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Running around the side-scrolling town as Mae day in and day out is more enjoyable than it sounds at first. It's mundane, but there's a lot of meaning to find around the town if you're willing to look for it. You go wherever you want, finding out stories about the townspeople and the town itself, or hanging out with friends for scripted story moments. Poking around all over town to find out the history is pretty cool, like the underground diner that Mae used to steal from back in the day, or the old shopping mall that barely gets any customers anymore. When you're not talking to people or going somewhere, you can play around with the rhythm mini-game as you practice with Mae's bass either in her room or in her old band with her group of friends. You can fall into a nice habit of checking in with the NPCs and locations you care about most, almost like in real life where you prioritize the people and places you spend the most time around. See More
The story slogs through the premise of Mae's anxieties and disillusionment for a long time until it suddenly switches somewhere in the middle. There are a few hints here and there about how and why the plot becomes a murder mystery, but these things seem inconsequential and not as important as Mae's personal issues. It ends up feeling strange to change things up partway through to something unrelated to the original premise. While the murder mystery isn't necessarily bad, it would have been nice to see a more focused insight and resolution to Mae's young adult troubles. See More
The coming-of-age story in Night in the Woods is unconventional for a video game, making it more unique and intriguing. After dropping out of college, the main character, Mae, struggles with her own disillusionment in life and refusal to grow up, all the while her old friends find success and move on without her. You join in on that struggle as you live as Mae: aimlessly going around town talking to everyone and listening to their worries, browsing your laptop when you're supposed to be doing other important things, and even pressing a button to wake up in bed every morning as a reminder of how mundane life can be. You see all the ways she doesn't necessarily want to grow up, wishing she could stay a kid forever, but then she talks to an old acquaintance who thinks she's washed up now, making her feel anxious about her failings as a young adult. This type of story is familiar for anyone who has also had a hard time with similar problems, and eye-opening for anyone who hasn't. See More
It's hard to like Mae from the start for a few reasons. She's extremely self-centered, she likes to steal for the thrills, and she has no interest whatsoever in fixing her shortcomings. Her life seems to be one awkward moment after another where you can't help but cringe in embarrassment, like in one early scene where she gets drunk at a party and blabs away about her personal problems after spending hours telling herself she wouldn't. As you get to know her, Mae might grow on you, but if you're the type to lose your patience with people who are immature, then you probably won't like her all that much. See More
Night in the Woods is set in Possum Springs, once a booming mine town but now a forgotten speck on the map, rife with poverty and decay. Its history is based on several real Adirondack towns, and its portrayal of rural decline is painfully accurate. The townspeople you talk to lament about having to close down their businesses, or wonder out loud how they'll make ends meet. Everyone's economic hardships feel real and relevant to anyone who's gone through the same thing or knows someone else who has. See More
Every character feels like they have a history and realistic personal motivations, even when they're left unexplained. Mae's friends are all different yet interesting in their own ways, like Gregg who's always happy to see her and helps Mae feel like someone truly cares, and Bea with her biting sarcasm and apathy that seem to cover up her more complex issues. The residents of the town also talk about things in ways that are true-to-life, like how they gossip about their neighbors as you listen in, or just flat-out tell you sometimes to leave them alone. Every character in the game feels like a real person, whether they're central to the story or just one of the NPCs you see sitting on their porch all the time. See More
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There's no combat in Fe, resulting in some pretty tense situations with the monsters. If you are spotted by the Silent Ones, rather scary robotic creatures, they can kill you on sight. Hiding in a bush or climbing a tree in a panic to escape can deliver some pretty exciting and tense moments. No matter how careful you are in the open world, some objectives will require sneaking past or evading them to grab key items. These situations can deliver some of the most exciting moments in the game. See More
The platforming can feel a bit clunky or rough at times. For example, when climbing trees you have to jump to the top branch by branch. Hitting the jump button one time too many will result in falling and having to re-climb the tree from the base. It's just little unpolished details like this that can sometimes make the platforming feel a bit clumsy. See More
Songs are used to interact with the world and navigate the platforming aspects in interesting ways. Using various melodies, you'll be able to perform such actions as calling birds to help you cross large gaps, spring boarding off plants for super high jumps, and even summoning a stag to attack enemies. If you're ever lost, there is a melody you can use to call down a bird who will point you in the direction you need to be going. Using musical melodies to navigate the platforming is integrated incredibly well. See More
There is no dialogue in the game, so the story can be hard to follow at times. During cutscenes, sometimes you'll have no clue what's really going on due to their surreal and strange nature. A lot of the story is left up your own interpretation, which can be disappointing for those who prefer a solid, coherent narrative. See More
Abilities are learned gradually as the game progresses by collecting gems and also learning the musical language of the forest life from plants and animals. As you gain more abilities or learn how to interact with more creatures, you can then go back to old areas and find new paths that were previously inaccessible. For example, birds that may not have paid much attention to you before may now gladly carry you over large gaps once you speak their language. Plants can springboard you high into the air once you can communicate with them. This ability progression is an exciting way to keep things fresh, and makes visiting old areas rewarding with new secrets to be found. See More
The puzzles are pretty straightforward and intuitive. Most items will serve practical purpose, rather than relying on the absurd logic that some other adventure games suffer from. For example, wire cutters are used to cut gates, paint thinner is used to dissolve paint, etc. Most puzzle items are used in the general area of where you pick them up, so there's not a whole lot of running around. While most of the early puzzles are fairly easy, some of the later puzzles can be quite tricky. However, they are still perfectly solvable with a little brain power. All in all, from an adventure gaming standpoint, it's certainly balanced. See More
Jump scares are few and far between. Detention focuses more on atmospheric horror through it's rather oppressive and bleak environment. To emphasize the dread, most of the game's artwork consists only of dark shades and washed out textures. Almost everything is depressing and bleak - the story, artwork, and sound design - resulting in a real horrific atmosphere. Roaming through the dark halls of a deserted school and its flooded grounds while being hunted by disturbing looking ghosts results in some downright terrifying moments. See More
The soundtrack isn't a typical soundtrack. Rather, it is purely environmental ambience and effects. There are no gentle melodies or soothing tracks at all. Rather, the audio itself involves a lot of screaming, scratching, moaning, humming, and strange otherwordly tones. Forgoing music for strange ambience was an interesting design choice, but it definitely pays off here as it makes you feel entirely uncomfortable, and the sense of dread is captured incredibly well. See More
Detention takes place in 1960s, a time period in which Taiwan was under martial law. The story focuses heavily on the social struggles of the time. Much of the game's horror elements are heavily inspired by the atrocities committed during this time. The creepy and disturbing factor is amplified due to the fact many of the notes and items scattered throughout the game are based on real historical events. The hopelessness and despair is felt throughout, especially when experienced through the eyes of the young and innocent protagonist, Wei. See More
There is no combat or weapons in this game, making an encounter with the many ghosts a tense and frightening experience. Since you have no way of fighting directly or defending yourself, your only survival options are to use stealth and trickery. In order to sneak past a ghost, you will have to hold your breath and slowly creep by. You can't be detected when holding your breath, but managing your air supply while sneaking can be pretty suspenseful when a ghost is right next to you and starts to give chase. If you absolutely can't get past despite your best sneaking efforts, you can lure a ghost away from it's spot with a food offering placed on the ground. But, even in this case, you'll have to be very careful you're not seen when the ghost comes looking for the treat. See More
Detention does a great job of ensuring a tense horror experience from start to finish. The entire atmosphere is just downright creepy, often washed in dark with very few light sources. The ghosts look absolutely horrific. Having to sneak by them can create some of the most tense moments in the game. The story intertwines pieces of Taiwan's tragic real life history with the in-game narrative which gives it a historically accurate, but disturbing feel. On top of all this, the screaming and otherworldly sound effects which play in the background give you a constant sense of unease. See More
Since the protagonist is blind, much of the horror in Perception is delivered through audio. The lack of detailed visuals and having a clear picture of your surroundings help to make the sounds stick out a bit more. Hearing constant footsteps in distant rooms, doors slamming, and all the bumps and scrapes in the dark can be pretty disturbing and amplify the horror. See More
There is an easy mode where the ghost can't hurt you. This is great for players who just want to enjoy the story and soak up the atmosphere without having to watch out for danger. While it ruins much of the tension and fear, it's still a great way to experience the adventure without worry. See More
Stumbling around a strange house only using echolocation to guide you can be daunting enough, but the addition of a scary presence who stalks you creates some very scary moments. Having to stand perfectly still in a dark corner or hiding behind some boxes while some unknown entity strolls through the room really gets the heart racing. Every footstep or tap of your cane can alert it to your whereabouts, making each step a fairly nerve-racking experience. See More
Being spotted and caught by the ghost is sometimes a matter of pure luck. Having it appear randomly when you're not even making any noise can be frustrating and dampen the excitement of carefully managing your footsteps. Sometimes, it will just show up to ruin your day, often giving the impression that it's simply spawning next to you. Depending on your difficulty level, this either sends you back to entrance of the house or to the game over screen. See More
Using echolocation to get around as blind girl is a very interesting premise. By taking a step or tapping your cane on the floor, it sends back information that you can use to navigate the house. However, this same noise can also alert a ghost to your location, meaning you'll need to tread carefully while you search the sprawling house. Carefully navigating the house, searching for clues, and avoiding the ghost all come together to create some pretty compelling gameplay. See More
While walking around using echolocation is a unique mechanic, it creates some pretty boring visuals. Walking around in the dark in video games is usually pretty annoying and uninspired, and this is no exception. Lighting is extremely dark with neon highlights around objects such as doors, tables, and walls. It's a very promising idea; it just doesn't translate well to being visually pleasing. See More
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