This is not what I was expecting.
So… Night in the Woods is a game I’ve had an eye on from afar. I know I’m going to buy it and, as such, haven’t wanted to see or hear too much discussion or too many previews. The one thing I was happy to see for myself was Lost Constellation; a Night in the Woods “supplement.” The game focuses on a young woman, an astronomer, who is seeking something she’s lost in the woods on the longest night; a recognised night like the summer solstice. The game is told as a bed time story, presumably between two characters from the upcoming Night in the Woods.
The game is gorgeous, as you can see from the art work that covers this page, but in motion it’s something else. The beautiful, subtle animations that your character makes as she jumps, interacts and picks up snow balls adds real character to proceedings. The music, too, lends a sense of menace and, at times, wonder as you progress through the woods and witnesses subtle changes in moods and tone.
The real star of the show, though, and the one thing that, should the quality remain the same into Night in the Woods, will drive me into a purchase, is the writing. There’s no voiced work here, which is good, but the timing and delivery of the lines is excellent. Each character you meet, however brief, has a real nuance and individuality to them; whether it be a hideous rat witch in the swamp, or a blind, honest gate keeper to the Gods or, and perhaps most spectacularly, a snowman with existential crisis.
I was a little skeptical at first; especially because I had no idea what I was in for. But by the end of my half hour play through I was extremely impressed. Through simple, but effective, writing and presentation Lost Constellation succeeds, resoundingly, on two fronts; the first is to make me a day one purchase of Night in the Woods. Secondly, and more importantly (and as is stressed by the game itself) this game is a huge success in its own right. As a piece of interactive fiction, or as a game, or as a narrative experience – whatever label you feel like putting on it – Lost Constellation is touching, intelligent and extremely engaging from start to beautiful finish.