Rage in the Krajna.
The protagonist in Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of The Forest is a young American woman with Polish heritage. Her name is Maia, and she’s taking a trip to Poland to learn about her family and discover her destiny. The tale is presented as something of a cross between a classic tabletop RPG and a “choose your own adventure” graphic novel.
With a game that focuses on how your choices affect the story, I’m loath to give away too many plot elements. However, a few things are obvious right out of the gate. Maia is travelling with a new friend, Anya, and going to Poland to visit the town from which your family came. Maia hopes to discover her roots and find an answer to some dreams (maybe visions?) that may affect her destiny. The themes are pretty standard “legendary tales” stuff, with the bonus of getting some Polish folklore and a few Polish words thrown in.
There are some other words in this game which are maybe not so nice. The developers even provided a content warning:
This DLC pack contains content from the game Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest, which contains mature conversations and narrative descriptions that broach the topics of substance abuse, criminal acts, glamorization of/incitement to violence, cursing, and crude language.
Some of the imagery can be a bit jarring, but it’s not overly graphic or gory. Most of the images are static and somewhat impressionist in their presentation.
The background sounds and music are a good match for the feel of the game. They lend good ambiance without being too intrusive.
The gameplay (if it can be called that) consists of using the left Joy-Con to select one of a few options and using the A button to make your selection. You can also use the X and Y buttons to access your player profile and your journal.
There are three critical character factors you need to watch: rage, willpower, and health. If you reach zero with rage, you become more timid with your interactions with the NPCs. Got no willpower? Well, that will limit how you respond to situations.
Zero health gets a little weird. In one pass through, I hit zero health but didn’t die and stop the game, so death isn’t necessarily the end. One upside of the “chose your path” storytelling mode is you can play the game more than once to see how Maia develops differently with the choices she is offered.
On the downside, I played the first pass as a relatively middle-of-the-road character, and I finished the game in under three hours.
As a traditional game, this is not really much to go with. As a visual novel, however, there are interesting points to enjoy. You get a relevant story line, some interesting characters, a splash of Polish culture, and some supernatural elements such as werewolves and forest spirits.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of The Forest is currently available in the Nintendo eShop for $14.99. I’m not sure that’s a great value because the story ends within a few minutes of when it gets really interesting. Also, after Maia finds out she’s a werewolf (this isn’t a surprise) there is very little she gets to do as a non-human, and you get to see almost none of it in the artwork.
I enjoyed Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of The Forest, but it was a bit slow and was over too soon.
Review: Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest (Nintendo Switch)
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of The Forest offers adventure and visual novels fans a slow buildup of character development, interpersonal relations, and plot, then a really quick finish with an anticlimactic ending that left me wondering, “Was that it?” Its saving grace is that you play through more than once to see where you can take the decisions and how your character will end up.