97 Reviews liked by Orangehenge

Night in the Woods is not a great adventure game. It is however, a fantastic piece of art that brings its story too close to my home for comfort, and has given me an experience that I can't in good faith criticize to that great an extent, despite how heavily flawed it is.
It's defined by its aesthetic generally, the cozy but melancholic autumn colors that bleed through the characters and storyline, circling around nostalgic wants of a past that has left or decayed long ago. Each of the characters presented struggle with their own way of finding a future for themselves, or even their identity. Bea tries to find a place to belong as well as deal with her own struggles, and Gregg and Angus ponder in their own way about where their future should go. It's unfortunately not paced as well as it could (the fact that it's awfully presented that you can only complete one of the character stories at a time is shitty), but each of them are told with such powerfully lifelike dialogue and very natural prose.
The story allows the characters and the town to grow and be further fleshed out as you walk up as Mae, the titular disgruntled and tortured MC. It fumbles over itself in the last act, and honestly leaves this game with a super unsatisfying end, but retroactively I can somehow tolerate that. Because, even despite the story fucking up and failing to capitalize on Mae's arc, it left me with enough heartwrenching stories to ponder over and feel strongly attached to each of the characters here.
I should also mention that NitW also offers a super good retro game to play as well in-universe, with Demontower. It's actually a rather competent 2d action game, with some good enemy and boss design. It came as a big surprise to me that even if you're bored of the gameplay, you have something legitimately fun to play rather than just to read.
Overall, despite its incredibly flawed structure and end, I can't recommend Night in the Woods enough if my description of what the game is about even slightly piques your interest. It's an incredible journey that encapsulates the mental struggle of growing up, depression, and dealing with changing times during economic crisis.

This game is unimaginably horrible and it's baffling it's the hill so many are willing to die on. There is no enemy variety, which is for sure a good idea for a modern open world game. There is no spell variety either (26), which again certainly was a great idea for a modern rpg based solely around it's magic set at a magic school, but hey Harry Potter has always had a terrible magic system so ¯\(ツ)/¯. For reference Final Fantasy (1987 NES) has triple as many spells (60), and Skyrim a more modern open world game for comparison has over 100 AND both those games have multiple combat classes besides magic. The game will let you use the "unforgivable curses" but it has no morality system to give any meaningful consequences to your actions because according to the devs it would be "too judgmental on the game maker's part". The world is empty, which is always a problem with open world games (not remotely a fan of the genre tbh) and every door is a loading screen. The game is also a buggy mess and anyone saying otherwise is just lying, the game literally has Denuvo lmao. But none of this is surprising, ignoring the original author for a moment, every trailer made it look lackluster and it's made by the developers infamous for Disney tie-in shovelware.
And now for the elephant in the room... The game doubles down on all the racism and antisemitism of its source material, anyone saying Terfling had nothing to do with this game is bending the truth. The official Q&A for the game on their site says they worked closely with her team so it perfectly fits her world, and that it does a little too perfectly. The main premise is squashing a goblin rebellion riddled with antisemitism. The goblin rebellions are not new to the franchise, they are a thing mentioned in the books and expanded material as something the students learn in history class. And what were all the rebellions about? The lack or basic rights like using wands, and checks notes wizards attempting to enslave them "as house elves" but we’re supposed to believe they’re still the villains throughout the franchise?
Which brings us to the next topic, the house elves... As in the source material Hogwarts is run by slave labor and the franchise doesn't want us to look deeper into what that means, waving it off with "well they like it". But if wizards can attempt to enslave goblins as “house elves” what does that actually mean, what exactly is a “house elf” and why doesn’t the series creator want us to examine it? The head house elf at Hogwarts becomes a companion, so you don't actually get to own a slave but you still get one by proxy. The game also lets you decorate the Room of Requirement with mounted house elf heads, with how controversial this aspect of the books has always been idk who on the dev team didn’t think “maybe we shouldn’t keep the mounted head of a sapient creature decoration item”. Again none of this is surprising given the source material where they decorate houses with elf heads and the kids put little hats on during christmas, oh isn’t it so cute and whimsical? And the fact that one of the lead devs was a gamer gate youtuber (them stepping down was never going to divorce the game from these elements). The game is also a prequel set in the 1800s so it can't actually effectively deconstruct the issues with the source material, the goblins are still the anti-semetic bankers, the house elves are still slaves, and the ("good") wizards are still the good guys that have every right to oppress them. Just like Terflings own politics and the politics of the source material the game's message is about preserving the status quo, nothing meaningful can change and it shouldn’t cause we have a continuity to uphold damnit!
The game also throws in the series "first trans character" who they named "Sirona Ryan", this is a name of a Celtic goddess (as many people will point out in an attempt to ignore criticism, despite the origin not being the issue with the name) but just like "Cho Chang", "Anthony Goldstein" and "Kingsley Shacklebolt" it's certainly a choice out of all the Irish names to deliberately use that one for your first trans women. Sirona was also very obviously thrown in last minute in an attempt to save face and say the game was divorced from Terflings and her raging transphobia, but as you can see the game is quite the opposite.
But you know despite all that 9/10 IGN-ostalgia am I right!
In conclusion this game is truly the “Legacy” of this franchise and I can see why fans say “this is everything I ever wanted in a Harry Potter game” because this is all the franchise really truly is. I certainly hope everyone who bought the deluxe edition for the sole reason to spite a minority the author is actively harming daily love their overpriced shovelware and fuck off. Remember yall were the same people in the 90s who hated and wanted to boycott the books for being “satanic” and "progressive". (spoiler alert they never were)
And for anyone who can’t let go of the franchise because of “childhood” and cause “it’s so magical”, let me recommend “Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin, “Discworld” by Terry Pratchett, and “Percy Jackson” by Rick Riordian. None of those series are perfect and have their fair share of problems, but they were written by authors who actually cared, who actually took criticism and grew from it. You can let go and grow too.

the ending was the biggest piece of dogshit but then I saw Suda51 in the credits

Bitches be like "I have my whole life ahead of me". No you don't, Onrush (14-26 slash damage) is coming 😂

I don't like saying pieces of fiction changed my life, but SeaBed definitely informed my perception of grief. I'm completely in love with this VN and there's nothing like it. Also has the relationship that ripped my heart out the most.

this game destroyed me
play it for emotional turmoil

Like the wide ocean, it’s not about what appears on the surface. A tempest could be accompanied by a placid underwater, a calm stands above fierce undercurrents. It’s about what is below all of that, the true depth, the almost magical, unknown world of the seabed, where the idiosyncratic and unconstrained sprouts and lies. It can’t be conveyed all at once, you scoop some water but just so much can be held in your hands, so you look for ways to show more without spilling any. These vessels can be a glass, a bucket, a word, a music, a picture, they are all manifestations of the seabed in the real world. There is nothing overly dramatic about it, it’s just how nature works, and in all its simplicity it is such a beautiful place.

Worst of all time. Trench of the medium. Denunciation of media. Dirt standard of storytelling. Bottom of creativity. Bedrock of invention. Foot of ingenuity. Underbelly of imagination. Nadir of innovation. Worst of the worst. Failure among failures. Abyss fiction.

I have 50 hours in Vampire Survivors. I treat it like time machine. I use it to travel 30 minutes forward in time and feel nothing afterwards.

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