How does your page look today, what words have been written to document your life?
Life is an unwritten page, and we spend our time jotting down experiences, decisions and whatever our fate throws at us. You can’t become whatever you want, and no matter how many times you tell your kids that they can be anyone they want there is a whole lot of as ifs, maybes and no-gos happening. In Joe Dever’r Lone Wolf we get to write a story with a lot of constraints. For one our hero is a grown man at our starting point, and we can’t control where he has been, or what he has done. We can however decide how he will choose to tackle upcoming obstacles, and what he has in his arsenal to do so.
Do you want to tackle events with brute force, sneak around them or hang around to see how they evolve before taking action? Or focus on Kai magical powers calling for aid from wildlife? These are a few of the options you have before the adventure begins, but they are all being written down for posterity.
The game book genre has evolved significantly into full-fledged adventures where dice no longer have to be used to give the game a sense of life and randomness. The brilliant Sourcery! series was a major leap in this direction, and Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf certainly takes it far beyond what could have been done in a book.
Having the words flowing onto parcel is a striking effect that is used in the game giving an organic feel. The adventure is written, as you play it. For the most part you read the story, and make decisions on how to proceed using magic, force or cunning. Once the game goes into battle mode it turns from the withered beautiful pages into a semi-turn based action game with a lot of influences from Infinity Blade.
The action sequences are like a mixture of the turn based battles in Final Fantasy, and a very limited version of the gesture action of Infinity Blade. You get a limited time, or rather initiative to act when it is your turn. Different melee attacks, ranged attacks consuming ammo or Kai magic attacks can be used. You can also opt to shield yourself, or use potions when in a pinch. Some attacks require you to draw gestures, or tap the screen repeatedly while most are just automatic. Once your turn is done you are the for the most part a passive defender. The battle sways back, and forth until one party is downed.
The transition between battle, and reading mode is beautiful, and perhaps the most striking graphical effect in the entire game. This is saying a lot considering how polished the game is in both reading, and battle mode. I think it might even be the game that struck me as most polished on iOS since the first Infinity Blade was released.
Reading, and battling through the first part of the game takes a couple of hours depending on how you choose to face events. There are three more chapters coming later that you can purchase as iAP. I do like this solution more than creating multiple separate games for the individual parts.