9 of the Most Interesting Games from PAX West 2016

Night In The Woods

Infinite Fall

They could have called this game "Chilling with Your Friends Simulator" and it would have been just as accurate of a title. Night in the Woods is a game which intends to prioritize narrative and characters over gameplay, much like games such as Gone Home and The Stanley Parable. However, among other games that emphasize story over everything else, Night in the Woods still has more gameplay than most of its contemporaries.

What gameplay is there is pretty scattershot, and exists in a vast minority to walking around and talking to people. But it is all fun to do, and much more traditional in nature compared to the average walking simulator type game. In the hour of Night in the Woods that was shown off at PAX there was a Guitar Hero style band practice with your pals, breaking flying light fixtures with a baseball bat, and even a shoplifting stealth section, all with plot relevance and different, intuitive control schemes.

When you aren't being a college dropout, you're exploring your home town by platforming across mailboxes and power-lines in order to find secrets and talk to people in order to build up the world around you. It is possible that the target audience for this game is somewhat limited by the modern-ish teenage mindset of the principal cast of characters, but it if you do fit into that same age group, you're likely to see a lot of your friends and possibly yourself in the protagonist Mae and her group of friends.

The real plot of the game didn't show itself very much in the demo, but there will be an overarching plot involving strange paranormal happenings involving the disappearance of people in the slowly shrinking town of Possum Springs, and Mae and her friends getting caught up in it. While the premise is admittedly very old-hat sounding and definitely been done before, there is a great deal of strength of writing shown in the very humorous and human dialogue -- so perhaps Night in the Woods could still re-invent the wheel on this one. 

Only time will tell how challenging or important the actual gameplay will be to the final product. But as it stands, Night in the Woods has a relateable cast, hilarious and well-written dialogue, gorgeous graphics, an intriguing if tiredly familiar setup, and simple, novel gameplay. 

Published Sep. 6th 2016

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