Categories
Fragments

Going Home

On Mae’s own hero’s journey.

Home is an ever-changing subject. For Mae Borowski, it’s Possum Springs. 

Night in the Woods opens with Mae’s return to her hometown. Having dropped out of college, Mae hopes to pick up where she left off, but shops are closed, her friends are busy, and Mae isn’t sure where she fits in anymore.

Mae hoped to escape the loneliness of college, only to come home and find everyone’s moved on. The deep ache of isolation and the horror Mae feels, encapsulated  by dreams of underwater towns and uncaring gods, don’t just go away when she returns home.

Traditionally, this would be called “the return.” At the end of the hero’s journey, they come home and realize this isn’t the home they know anymore, if not because it’s changed, because they have. For Mae, maybe it’s a little of both.

On the fourth night, Mr. Chazakov shows Mae the dusk star Ferdinand the Mountaineer, an explorer from a flat land who dedicated his life to climbing mountains and returned home to find the sky felt heavy. Mae returned home and found that the town felt different. Maybe it’s the eldritch horror in the mines, or maybe it’s Mae.

Throughout the game, you see Mae’s relationship with her parents grow to a deeper, adult understanding of each other, her relationship with her friends evolve to fit their new, busier lives, and her understanding of her neighbors and her community deepen. She’s returned, a stranger in a familiar land, and made it into a home all over again. 

On the last you can find one last dusk star with Mr. Chazokov’s The Firemaker, “a wanderer in the cold and dark, making a fire and huddling up to it for light and warmth.” This is perhaps Night in the Wood’s last précis on the concept of survival, or perhaps, on the concept of home. Maybe you really can’t go back home. Maybe all of life is building your own little fire.

Or, as Mae’s friend, Angus, would say, perhaps home isn’t the “universe that doesn’t care,” maybe it’s “the people who do.”

By Linda M. Rullán

Linda M. Rullan is a full-time telecom worker, and a freelance proofreader and copywriter, located in Omaha, NE. Obsessed with how the unique art form of games can be used for storytelling, she works to combine her love of literature and gaming into something vaguely comprehensible. You can find her on Twitter (@rullan_linda)

2 replies on “Going Home”

As someone who holds Night In The Woods close to their heart, I had to read this immediately. I thought I already experienced all the emotions this game can make me feel, but while reading this I felt the overwhelming urge to play again, taking even more time than the first.

Leave a Reply