It doesn’t happen much when two different studios work on the same IP. In this case Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Earlier this month we had Earthblood from Cyanide and now we have Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest from developer Different Tales. The games couldn’t be more different. Earthblood was a multi-genre action game and Heart of the forest isn’t even what I would consider a videogame. At least not in the traditional way. So what then? An interactive novel suits it better, a large portion of the time you’ll be reading and the other time you’ll be picking dialogue.
We played Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest for 4 hours on Series X.
What we liked!
- ‘Playable’ character Maia draws you in | The first half of the game is very interesting, with the main reason for finding out why Maia has a locked focus on a forest in Poland. The mystery surrounding Maia and her connection to that unknown forest was the best part of the narrative. The story will take different kinds of directions depending on the player’s actions. Nearing the end I feel the game is a bit rushed but I never lost my connection in the first playthrough with Maia. Seeing Maia’s personality traits evolve while making decisions in the game is surprisingly rewarding and the journal that keeps track of it all is very detailed. What shines here is that various other people she encounters have an impact too. As a result, I was always curious to see how a relationship with other people would influence Maia.
- Artstyle and appropriate sound | If a music composer would tell me it is harder to find fitting music for an interactive novel I would totally believe him. This is for example something that annoys me a lot from the interactive visuals novels from developer Ratalaika, the music and sound is always completely off. Not the case with Heart of the Forest though! Background noises help you with immersion, frequently it helped with imagining where Maia was. This was helpful as the still visuals with slight animations don’t always give you the best clues. Artstyle is brilliant, just not always fitting with the dialogue. It was a slight concern but easily forgiven because of the beautiful drawings.
- Different endings | It took around three hours to finish my first playthrough. When you have to make dialogue decisions or choose how to deal with situations it makes only sense that you have multiple endings. Frankly, I’m not the kind of gamer or in this case reader that likes to revisit a game and pick different options. Replaying for me destroys that immersion I have with the character, in that first playthrough you are making your decisions, you do what your heart tells you to do. That magic is lost after that first playthrough, for me anyway maybe that’s different for you. Regardless, it is still an excellent way to make a short experience a bit longer. One thing is for sure though, you really have an influence on what happens with Maia. There are a few inconsistencies but in general, it was refreshing to have a game with that amount of choices that actually mean something.
- Light gameplay elements |Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest is first and foremost a reading experience. It strikes a bit with what it means to be a videogame, as gamers aren’t used to be passive. Button-pressing is almost exclusively used for scrolling well-written text. You will have to keep an eye on your health, rage, and willpower that will matter a lot for narrative choices. There is no game over screen, even if your health runs out… it will only impact possible choices. This is very important to know as not all of you will enjoy an interactive novel.
What we disliked
- Nothing | Just be sure to understand what you are buying with Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest. This is a reading experience, so don’t expect much more.
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