Night in the Woods (2017)

Reflection, Introspection, and a Night in the Woods

Night in the Woods’ cast of characters provides a great jumping off point for looking at your life.

4 min readMar 19, 2017


Night in the Woods is a game which will forever stand out in my game collection, especially when contrasted with the type of game I normally play. My library is packed to the brim with frantic action-fests, sporting mechanics and systems that go to depths I will never fully explore, all alongside lore-dumping fantasies with extensive universes I will never fully see. Both deep mechanics and deep worlds aren't a negative, but usually they’re exclusively serving the purpose of asking the player to put thought into just that game and nothing else.

Night in the Woods stands out in this regard; mechanically simple, with a relatively simple and quiet world, which you will find yourself frequently retreading. Inside this small world are characters and stories which feel expansive and more importantly human. This is quite an achievement for a game with such a furry cast.

Often, these stories hit home; smacked me upside the head. Through the stories being told, I was finding myself being introspective, thinking about my life as compared to those of the residents of Possum Springs. To have a game which asks me to — just maybe — think about something outside the game is a rarity and a treat. To have that same game allow me some space to be introspective and reflect on my life is a rarer treat, and it is one which Night in the Woods provides in ample measure.

Good Times Online™

A lot of the opportunities for introspection in Night in the Woods arise from the game’s central protagonist, Mae Borowski. Through my time with Night in the Woods, I could see more and more of myself in her. Mae felt like a character who wasn’t just an every-person; she was incredibly specific, thought out, well developed. She felt like a real person, and many times, Mae’s experiences aligned with my own.

I’m the college dropout, who wasted her family’s money on a degree she never got, and felt shitty about it. I’m the kid who had something break inside of her during middle school. I’m often left feeling a bit aimless. I keep a digital journal (and Twitter, I guess) to try and keep my thoughts collected and maybe vent on occasion. I found myself at the wayside of religion, wondering if I believed in anything. I’m haunted by ghosts; things I did and said that can’t and won’t leave me. I’m a trash mammal.

Night in the Woods touched on those life experiences through Mae, and brought me back to experiencing all of that myself. Seemingly at every step, Mae managed to connect to me. This personal connection to Mae made my heart soar and brought me further and further into the woods. As I delved further, I also found that her friends provided more to think about in my life.

Bless this mess indeed.

Sometimes it was thinking about being an anchor in my relationships (Gregg Rulz ok). Other times, it was dealing with feelings of aimlessness, questions of purpose. Thinking about friends I had, and then just moved on from, vanishing from their lives, sometimes reappearing a couple years later. The feeling of reuniting with a friend you haven’t talked to. The mundaneness of small-town life, alleviated only by having a few friends you can be close to. The feeling that your friends are changing, and that you’re stuck in the past. The feeling that you’re the one that got left behind, even when you tried to move ahead. The disconnect of being somewhere new, the comfort of home. The messiness of life. The feeling that the ground you stand on shifts beneath you and you’ll be swallowed by it. Even now, I continue to think about these things. Night in the Woods is simply the vehicle which brought me here, and for that I am grateful.

I’m very fortunate to have played this game at this point in my life and have this connection with it — and more specifically with Mae. To have this opportunity to very seriously think about some things, laugh about others, and have a game guide me into thought about things outside of the game is a joy, and I don’t take that for granted. It is because of this that Night in the Woods is going to stick with me for a long time. The very personal connections which Night in the Woods has formed with me, and it’s ability to tell a story that resonated so deeply within me will have it sticking out in my thoughts in the days, weeks, and months to come.

I cannot recommend this experience to anyone enough.

Gregg Rulz Ok