There were a lot of heaters at yesterday's big Sony "State of Play" announcement stream, but only one of them (ok, two, I can't deny Alan Wake 2) really set my heart aflutter: Revenant Hill, a cozy, autumnal "stray cat in a strange world" game that just might put Stray on notice. Revenant Hill will be the first release of The Glory Society, a developer co-op founded by Night in the Woods creators Bethany Hockenberry and Scott Benson.
Night in the Woods is something special, an adventure game set in a diminished industrial town called Possum Springs, a place like rural Pennsylvania, but populated entirely by adorable anthropomorphic animals, and whose proud history of labor resistance has been appended with a sad coda of post-industrial decline. You play as Mae Borowski, the first member of her family to go to college, and also the first to then drop out of college, as she puts the pieces of her life back together in the shadow of a vaguely supernatural mystery.
It's like Daria meets Twin Peaks, a loving, melancholy portrait of a dying town brought to life with Benson's gorgeous storybook art and animation. It's the perfect game to play in the fall too, with a hazy warm color palette and the action of NITW itself taking place from late summer through early winter.
Revenant Hill looks to press the gas on both autumnal vibes and the themes of early industrial labor organizing. Its first trailer shows protagonist Twigs the cat running along through various distinctive locales, including a witches' coven and a city with striking workers in the background, before settling on a hill above a wheat field. This looks like a world with humans, anthropomorphic animals, and kooky skeleton guys living together in harmony (or at least living together), and the trailer as a whole reminded me of Cartoon Network's 2016 animated series, Over the Garden Wall.
Revenant Hill's official website describes the plot as follows:
"It is 1919 in the Lower North. After the barn he was living in burns down,Twigs the cat takes up residence in a wet log near an abandoned graveyard. 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.
Times are hard, making ends meet is harder, and the world doesn’t stop at the edge of the graveyard. Something big and dark is at work in the towns, the factories, in the forests and hills. Sooner or later, someone is going to have to push back."
Say no more, I'm in. We do not yet have a release window or even relevant storefront pages for Revenant Hill, but it is confirmed for release on Steam, and you can sign up for newsletter updates on the game's official website.