If you read our review of The Banner Saga, you’ll know that we appreciated its charming reminiscence of a classic Choose Your Own Adventure book, and lamented its initial attempt to seemingly deny that fact. Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf doesn’t suffer the same deception; it’s an interactive Choose Your Own Adventure through and through, which is all the more endearing as a result.
It’s nothing particularly innovative, but there is meat on the system's bones, and experimenting unearths tactics that can prove satisfactory when you resultantly slay Giaks with efficiency.
Detailed and evocative writing conjures a story that is consistently engaging, though it's a while before you can really invest in any of its characters. A wealth of branching possibilities encourage active narrative engagement; you’ll inevitably wonder whether you reached the ‘right’ conclusions, what might have been if you’d made a different decision, or whether you perhaps could have travelled a completely different path afforded by differing character abilities.
Players must manage Lone Wolf’s vitality, endurance and Kai power (mana) carefully, which can lead to some uncharacteristic decisions, made only to preserve these resources. They can each be restored through the consumption of potions, or by resting, either at a camp or by paying for accommodation. The former opens you up to attack, which brings us to the game’s turn-based combat system.
Resource preservation is so important as they’re each integral to your success - you’ll require endurance to perform both offensive and defensive manoeuvres, Kai power to cast spells and employ use of the Sommerswerd sword, vitality to stay alive. A timing-based system keeps you on your toes, as if you delay for too long you’ll plain miss your turn, but you’ll often want to delay for as long as possible to regenerate endurance and buy time for ability cooldowns, before launching a multi-move assault in a tempting risk/reward proposition. Landing manoeuvres requires the completion of a quick time event, so you’ll need to remain vigilant at all times. It’s nothing particularly innovative, but there is meat on the system's bones, and experimenting unearths tactics that can prove satisfactory when you resultantly slay Giaks with efficiency.
Satisfactory whilst somewhat lacking is a comment that extends to the game’s presentation, which is mundane, whilst getting the job done. Combat sections could’ve been pulled from an early Xbox 360 release and the tome and neatly integrated menus are inescapably unexciting visually. By the same token, there’s nothing wrong with soundtrack, though nothing sets it apart either, you’ll have heard similar many times before.
The transition from touch and mouse control on their respective platforms to a console game-pad also presents issue, as cumbersome menu navigation clearly results from their initial design. We also question how at home this sort of experience is on a static console - you don't generally hit the couch, controller in-hand, to read a book on the telly. You do, however, pull out your touch device for a blast from an e-book - and this is a badass e-book!
Despite its drawbacks, if Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf sounds to be of interest to you, don’t hesitate to pick it up. When it's available cheaper and more accessibly elsewhere, we’d just recommend thinking twice before purchasing the Console Edition.