Night in the Woods paired with Dog Days
Dog days signify a period of inactivity and sluggishness. It seemed like the perfect beer to pair with Night in the Woods, a game about dropping out of college, coming home, and just hanging around in the most stressful ways possible. And with Mae’s tendency to sleep in, Dog Days lager seemed about right.
The game itself is an adventure game, with a cartoon art style. In this town of animals, you’ll spend time on you laptop, eat pizza with friends, go to band practice, drunkenly talk to your old prom date, and find an arm outside a diner which doesn’t become significant again until hours of gameplay later (which is a bit strange pacing wise but okay). Night in the Woods hints at a horror story underneath what can only be described as Mae’s second childhood, but it takes its time getting around to it.
Mechanically, the game centers on talking to people in town and giving you some dialogue choices—which I’m happy to say actually has an impact on what non-playable characters say to you. Aside from that, Night in the Woods gets players involved with a series of mini-games/interactive moments. Recurring mini-games include playing your bass (rhythm games) and grabbing/interacting with various items (one of the earliest things you do is grab a can from a vending machine, using the joystick and square if you’re playing on PS4). There’s also a game within a game. Players can open Mae’s laptop and play Demon Tower, a surprisingly fun dungeon crawler that increases in difficulty each level. Lastly, Mae has surreal dreams.
These dreams serve as platforming puzzles, but they’re not much of either. Really, these “puzzles” are just a matter of exploring the whole area, which is fairly small. Every dream follows basically the same pattern, so it gets old quickly. There’s some light platforming in other areas of the game, but none of it is challenging, interesting, or satisfying. Sure, it’s fun to bounce on wire but that can only get you so far.
The game itself moves too slowly, giving the player plenty of time to grow tired of Mae’s immaturity, privilege, and eye-roll inducing disposition.
I played the entire game because I kept hoping it would get better. I’m happy to say the final “part” was amazing. The climax of the game was done perfectly: every time I thought I had an answer, new questions arrived. And in the end, (mostly) everything was made clear. I cannot in, good conscious, recommend Night in the Woods, but if you’re already a good way through it, you need to finish it. No point in trudging through mediocrity just to leave before the grind pays off. Night in the Woods is a failed attempt sprinkled with brilliance, and for me it was just enough brilliance to keep me wondering if this might be a good game after all (Spoilers: it’s not).
Oddly enough, I don’t want to discourage people from playing it, either. Most of me hates Night in the Woods, but I still have some fond memories with it. From going on my laptop and clicking on sharkle every day (multiple times) to talking to my Mom in the kitchen every morning and begrudgingly watching TV with my dad every night.
So much of Night in the Woods feels real and beautifully honest, but all its glory fades into the background over how terrible Mae is as a lead character. She is literally the only character I don’t find interesting (and actually actively hate): from her having literally no plans for months after dropping out to her stupid jokes and self-centered nature. Mae really does ruin everything, including my experience with the video game she was in.
While HLTB labels it as a relatively short game, I logged approximately 15 hours into the game over the span of 2 days: Dog days indeed… which brings us to our beer:
Brewed by Two Brothers, Dog Days is a Dortmunder Style Lager.
Extremely light in color and easy to drink. This beer is flavorful with a bit of slight twang after taste. Not memorable, but reliable; the name fits. You can easily pound these back. But with a low ABV of 5.1% you’ll have to go through the whole six pack to make Mae tolerable. And have I mentioned she hates beer?