#NightInTheWoods is a beautiful adventure filled game about a college dropout named Mae. Mae has returned, after being away at college, to her hometown. This hometown is quite small and quiet, very much like my own in fact. Playing Night In The Woods strongly reminded me of the first time I came back to America after leaving for Europe straight out of high school.
My hometown is in the middle of nowhere. Everyone knows everyone, and you honestly can’t go far without running into someone that knows your life story. Mae has the same experience — walking around her old stomping ground, running into a multitude of different people who vary between excited to see her, mildly interested, or not at all happy she is back.
When I first went back to my quaint little hometown, I had the same reaction. I did not go to college out of high school, but instead went to England to try to make a life here with someone I loved deeply. Everyone knew I went to Europe. Everyone.
Many people were interested in what it was like outside of my old town, many were politely agreeable to me being back, and some didn’t enjoy the fact I was home after being away. Some people even thought it was odd I left in the first place and couldn’t understand what other places had that my small town didn’t. Running into this assortment of people was inevitable, just like in any small town.
The biggest thing about being home was how much everything had changed. The game perfectly captures the experience of slowly realizing that the world has changed while you were gone. Even if your town is small, it still changes, shifts into something that is different from the faded memory of your past.
My town now had plans for a motocross track, several new shops, and a few old favorites had now closed. Mae experiences something akin to myself — new shops replacing old shops, construction to update various areas and changes to the roads.
Her friends (much like mine) were the same — the same personalities and the same faces I remembered. But they were different. Instead of just hanging out like it was a long summer vacation, everyone had jobs, some had families, and generally speaking, far less free time.
While I was coming back to my home town, i had a truck load of question marks in the form of visas and immigration — Mae has a completely open and unknown future without a direct path forward. Having this openness while everyone around me had such certainty to their lives is intimidating, especially when confronted with questions.
It's hard to know what you are going to do, meanwhile everyone else seems to have their lives so figured out and in such a solidified manner in their own adventures.
I did press on with my future, as is to be expected, but Mae’s is much more interesting and mysterious than my own. My stop was a quick pause as I figured things out. Mae on the other hand, is in the midst of discovering some deeper mystery in her own life.
Her town starts to have some very scary and serious issues — body parts turning up in the streets and strangeness about her unknown past. I have only touched the surface of this game — and was very pleasantly surprised with how it related to my own.
I honestly can’t wait to continue Mae’s adventure — I feel it will be very different from my own, but her adventure still starts close to my heart.