Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest Review: Choose Your Own Rageventure
Werewolves, as it turns out, are an angry lot. You might have noticed as much from their many appearances in film, television, and other pieces of pop culture. Such an indignant demeanor might be because of how much decent hair products cost for lupine fur or the fact that flighty teenagers keep choosing annoying emo vampires over them. Hard to say, really.
Either way, the takeaway is that lycanthropy is big on being angry, and the new text adventure Werewolf: the Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest certainly captures the emotion. Rage and how you, the player, deal with it are major themes in this bit of interactive storytelling.
Heart of the Forest isn’t quite as simple as a typical "choose your own adventure" game, such as the recent and surprisingly witty The Innsmouth Case, where you just choose from stock responses and see where the story goes, though it does mostly play out that way.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest Review: Choose Your Own Rage Adventure
In Heart of the Forest, you play Maia Boroditch, a college student who has dragged along her new bestie, Anya, to Poland to discover her family roots. Now finding herself in the quaint if strange little town of her grandfather, she quickly discovers her family name is not beloved there. Her grandfather’s grave was desecrated and marked, the townsfolk shun her, and weirdness abounds.
Amidst this backdrop, protestors and loggers face off to determine the fate of the massive old forest that lies just outside the town. Logging companies want to profit off the ancient forest and others want to protect it. For anyone familiar with the source material, werewolves are intrinsically connected to the Earth, so this forest is particularly sacred ground.
For the most part, you’re given a description of a location, situation, person, or you're some shown dialogue, and from there, you select from a short list of potential reactions. Some choices are mundane, others intriguing, but some choices affect the protagonist’s very RPG-like character sheet stats. Rage, Willpower, and Health can all be affected by the choices you make over the course of the story, making your choices integral to progression.
At first, you're largely faced with emotional responses, but as the narrative progresses, choices can get more physical. If one stat, say Willpower, is depleted, then certain choices won’t be available. The inability to control your rage because of previous choices means you'll likely be forced down a possibly undesirable narrative path.
Though the gameplay itself is entirely text-based, the game's presentation, with lovely evocative art, music, and ambient sounds, compliments its narrative nature well.
With all of this in mind, Heart of the Forest unsurprisingly shares a lot with its tabletop roots. The game itself uses the same art and writing style as those sourcebooks, which is a huge compliment. White Wolf’s games are beautifully-made books with a narrative style of writing vastly different from Dungeons & Dragons. The art is edgy and superb, in its realistic photo-style. All of those qualities are present here, in what essentially amounts to a digital version of those materials.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest Review: The Bottom Line
- Beautiful presentation is nostalgic for fans of the source material
- Well written, with an eye on history, diversity, and real-world issues
- More advanced than standard choose your own adventures thanks to the inclusion of meaningful stats
- Feels way too pricey for a short text adventure
- Little action or in-depth roleplaying
Heart of the Forest is an intriguing diversion. It’s an interesting story with fleshed-out characters, and it makes fascinating use of actual history and modern issues. More importantly, the game uses the source material to excellent effect.
The story is only a few hours long per playthrough, though there are multiple paths to explore. That said, the $15 list price seems a bit steep for a game that would go for a fraction of that upon its inevitable mobile release. Still, for gamers who love text adventures, this is certainly recommendable.
[Note: Walkabout provided the copy of Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest used for this review.]