At the Playstation Showcase on Wednesday, the creators behind indie darling Night in the Woods announced their newest title, Revenant Hill. The game has big shoes to fill, given how queer, socially aware and emotionally resonant its predecessor was. Luckily, even this early teaser hints there’s much in store for LGBTQ+ players in Revenant Hill.
The announcement trailer shows an animated cat (a nod to Night in the Woods’ pansexual protagonist, Mae) running across the screen as seasons change in the background. Along the way, there are references to the game’s rural setting, occult themes, industrialization, and labor revolts. If you ask me, nothing says queer like anti-capitalist witches.
A follow-up post from Playstation Blog elaborates on Revenant Hill’s story and gameplay. “The year is 1919. After the barn he was living in burns down, Twigs the cat takes up residence in a wet log near an abandoned graveyard,” writes Coby West, technical designer for the game’s studio, The Glory Society. “When the owl from the next hill over starts demanding rent, Twigs must find a way to make ends meet, and things just get more complicated from there.”
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The ultimate goal is to become “a fully licensed familiar.” But first, you’ll have to grow and sell crops, make friends and enemies with regular folks and supernatural creatures, learn hexes and charms, explore the wide world around you—and of course, eat plenty of mice.
“The world of Revenant Hill is big and strange and beautiful and complicated,” writes West. “Building a community is too. But it’s worth it.”
The creators’ previous title, 2017’s Night in the Woods, was a narrative adventure game. You play as Mae, an anthropomorphic cat who has just moved back to her financially struggling hometown after dropping out of college. Here, Mae reconnects with high school friends, including gay couple Gregg and Angus, and she spends several days visiting old haunts and getting into trouble (like playful knife-fights kind of trouble).
The story explores the comfortable familiarity of old friends, but it also does not shy away from dark topics—dissociation, abuse, failure and self-worth. Night in the Woods’ inclusive cast and frank handling of mental health issues earned it a passionate queer following—so much so that last June Mae became a Pride mascot at a Portland Timbers soccer match.
Can Revenant Hill achieve these same queer heights? I’d say it can go even further. While Night in the Woods did feature a trans character—the anti-fascist goat Jackie—this was not mentioned in the base game. A later update had Jackie as the sole member of a band named “Trans World Order Give Them Hell.” This actually fits well with the game’s ethos of incorporating queer characters naturally and casually into the world, but there’s room for more of a focus on gender diverse stories.
So far, it’s a safe bet we’ll be in good hands when Revenant Hill launches on Playstation and Steam.