Price: $4.99 (episode one)
App Reviewed on: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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My experience with the Lone Wolf series doesn’t stretch beyond its expansive collection of gamebooks that have occasionally caught my eye over the years. However, the latest in the long line of media collectables and video games, Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf is a wonderful gamebook experience recently released on iOS. And it manages to succeed in every which way at being ‘different’ from anything else in its genre.
Expecting a long line of text and the occasional multiple choice option, I was certainly surprised when the game showed its true colors and in actual fact presented itself as more of a fully-fledged RPG than just a typical gamebook experience. Lone Wolf is the best looking gamebook I’ve laid eyes on; most likely the prettiest app I’ve ever seen. Text flows seamlessly across each and every page and beautiful illustrations pop up and bring the whole story to life, and then there’s the transition to combat, which just fascinates and hypnotises all at the same time. Sepia toned pages pull back and break away to reveal a vigorous and dynamic color-filled world, and that’s not even part of it.
There are so many special things about this app, that going into them all would be nigh impossible. So instead I will focus on just why this splendid experience failed to completely hook me.
Getting the hang of the combat mechanics and all the various options was no easy feat, but after some time it began to make sense. Combat is timed and turn-based; and within this small timeframe players must perform various attacks, cast spells, drink potions, heal, and so on before being attacked by the enemies (named Giaks). Attacks present themselves as Quick Time Events, with players having to follow the ‘instruction’ on-screen without failing. Throwing knives, for example, requires one to tap circles at the correct moment in order to actually make contact. In all honesty the combat gives a whole variety of choices, but the biggest downfall is how repetitive it can be. Although outside of combat there are a multitude of options to excite and fulfill hours of amusement, unfortunately the story lacks any substance and the combat gets seriously stale after a while.
The game itself is pretty linear; players follow a map, and the story carries on until it just... concludes. It certainly feels like there’s something missing, which is a shame because Lone Wolf is such a work of art. That said, these flaws are not valid enough to dissuade players from trying Lone Wolf, as it is highly exceptional and unique in ways that would only be discovered by experiencing it first-hand.