E3 ’14 – Hands-On With Night in the Woods
By Marcus Estrada
Alex Holowka and Scott Benson make an amazing indie development team. Their game, Night in the Woods, saw quite a bit of success on Kickstarter late last year. Despite all the attention, it didn’t quite gain fire as some of its colleagues did, and that seems like a huge shame. After playing a demonstration of the game at E3, it’s fair to say Night in the Woods is probably one of the best upcoming Kickstarter-based releases out there. Here’s my “diary” of thoughts from playing it for the first time on the show floor.
Wow, what a ridiculously attractive game. I’m just a cat standing alone in a room but I’m in love with this art style! It’s cartoony with flat colors and sharp designs. My lead cat buddy looks precious – but wait – did she just say she wants to burn down her room while she’s still in it? In no time flat the game has presented its darkly humorous tone and I’m even more intrigued. I quickly examine everything in the room to hear more of this wit but quickly run out of topics. Time to head downstairs…
My mother cat calls from the kitchen and leads to even more disturbed amusement in the writing department. She discusses possibly watching a movie with her daughter Mae tonight about a philandering husband and the wife who goes cross country killing any man in sight. That’s totally a great movie for family bonding, right? Given the choice, I say my character would love to watch it with mom. In any case, I find myself smiling wondering if the people watching behind me dig this style of humor. I most definitely do.
With that done there’s little left for me in the house so I head outside. Again I’m struck by the beauty of Night in the Wood’s art. The color scheme is very tight and creates a specific, unique atmosphere. Then, seeing characters simply walking through town really brings things to life. I chat with a few of the cityfolk and find that they really don’t like me climbing around on things. That’s totally what cats (and other hoodlums, apparently) love to do. Besides, my character is 20, as she so strongly asserts. I curse the man and make my first attempt to climb on something. I’ve jumped on trash cans with rattling lids.
This is the moment I decide that, yes, this is a game I need as soon as possible. I jump around some more, testing my limits. Eventually I find it is possible to get up onto a roof where another character is waiting around. However, the simple act of climbing is joyous. It is so fun to see Mae stretch her arms out for balance while walking on stuff. And thanks to the cavalcade of characters telling her she isn’t allowed to jump all over things it felt fantastic to disobey them all.
Putting a demo filled with exposition on E3’s show floor is an incredibly brave decision. Many industry-types expect a very brief, action filled taste of a game before moving on a few minutes later. However, the developers didn’t seem to be under any misconceptions here. Their game appears to be in large part about story and characters so there was no way to avoid that during a demonstration. I applaud them for it as Night in the Woods looks like an awesome upcoming adventure game.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg” ]Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]