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October 2021

Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Heart of the Forest

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Walkabout Games
Developer: Different Tales
Release Date: Oct. 13, 2020


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PC Preview - 'Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Heart of the Forest'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 27, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Heart of the Forest is a narrative adventure game that throws you deep into a primeval wilderness in the center of modern Europe.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Heart of the Forest follows a young woman named Maia Boroditch. She has always had strange haunting visions of a forest in Poland, and she eventually decides to take a trip there. The trip brings her into the mystical world that lies within the verdant forest, and she must discover the truth of the beast that lurks within. Of course, it will be up to the player to decide who Maia is and what path her adventure will take.

Werewolf plays out as a choose-your-own-adventure visual novel. You are presented with plot snippets, and you make choices to influence the story. Maia's response depends on your choices, which gradually cause her personality to develop and influence how she responds to certain things without your input. Early on, you are able to choose a goal, such as, "Learn more about the forest," or "Discover Maia's destiny," which change how you would approach the story, since acting against Maia's chosen goal works against you.

While Werewolf is a choose-your-own-adventure story, you have the necessary resources . You have health and willpower, which are used to perform physical and mental tasks, respectively. If you run out of them, Maia will become impaired and lose the ability to perform certain actions. If you have a high rage factor, you may need to spend more willpower to avoid antagonizing people around you, and acting foolishly can cost health. Willpower is restored by finding clues to your chosen goal, so acting "in character" for Maia can pay dividends that you wouldn't get through seemingly random action.

Unlike health and willpower, the rage meter fluctuates between empty, balanced, and full, depending on the choices you make. Rage also influences the available choices and the positive or negative tone with which you make those choices. An empty rage meter makes it easier to control yourself in the face of provocation, but it also makes you less likely to act. A full rage meter may cause you to lash out at someone unless you expend willpower, but it can give you the presence to cut through lies and nonsense.

In addition, you have a series of personality stats: analytical, brave, cunning, inspiring, and spiritual. The choices you make for Maia gradually fill up the stats, which have both passive and active benefits. If you focus on analytical, she automatically views things from an analytical viewpoint, and she'll be able to make specific choices by being analytical. You're not necessarily locked into one set of stats, but trying to remain in character means you'll probably end up on a specific path.

The preview build of Werewolf covers (part of?) the first chapter of the story. It is largely introductary and sets the scene for what is to come. My first time through was as a calm and spiritual Maia (called "Seer" in the end-of-demo ranking) who took in everything with a hippie-ish calm, feeling at one with nature and rarely growing angry. My second time through was as an angry, impulsive and brave "Warrior" Maia, who was able to force more information about her destiny out of the characters I'd met earlier, but in doing so, she earned little loyalty. While a good chunk of the text was the same, there was enough of a difference between the two playthroughs to make it clear that a single time through Werewolf won't be enough to get the full story.

Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Heart of the Forest looks to be an interesting take on the World of Darkness werewolf mythos. It has a slower-paced story that's focused on the emotions and psychology of someone becoming entwined with the most primal part of who they are. Fans of interactive fiction or werewolves should keep an eye on this game; our brief glimpse into the title has some very interesting and promising implications.

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