A popular trend of the the 80s and 90s era, “Choose Your Own Adventure” books (or gamebooks) were our adventures before we could have (or afford) our very own video game console or PC. Written as multi-branched stories with very diversified themes, ranging from fantasy to science-fiction, these books had the merit of being a good alternative, or even a very interesting complement, to the paper and dice role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. And so here comes Italian studio Forge Reply with the crazy idea of making a digital version of such books, one based on the work of Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf series.
The starting point of a gamebook, is usually where you live a scenario with multiple branches, in which you the reader advance through the story, according to your choices but also abilities initially defined for your lead character. Luck is also important because, in the spirit of old traditional roll of the dice and RNG gods, these novels usually include a long table of actions based on chance, which plays an important role in your choices made during the game, including combat. Now before we continue, note that this game was previously launched on mobile devices, then remastered in HD for PC, before it landed on Nintendo Switch which I reviewed.
Keeping with the story originally written by the British writer, Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf can be quite easy to understand by players who have never “played” his books. Even if the fans will appreciate this trip more than newcomers, you will all live the story of the last Kaï order survivor, after his clan was decimated by the armies of the Masters of Darkness. The four acts of the adventure take us to the Rockstarn village, the Sunken Forest, the Shianti Temple and the V’taag fortress, with different ways to travel through each chapter, according to the branched of the scripts. For those of you that are big fans of Joe Dever’s work, the game is technically set between the fourth and fifth book in the Lone Wolf series (The Chasm of Doom and Shadow on the Sand).
With reading taking a major place in these adventures, it was out of the question for the developer to remove that factor. This is why the game replaces the usual cut-scenes with long parts of the books, paired with illustrated narrative descriptions. By turning the pages of the virtual book, the player can let loose its imagination to picture himself in these story events. Unless you are not a fan of the genre, you will lose yourself reading this fantasy story, beautifully written and narrated in numerous languages for you non-English speakers. The narrative is not only there to describe the unfolding of this story, but also opens up all the choices for you to continue this adventure.
Since each of your decisions may involve one of your Kaï talents, not all of the choices may be available during the same playthrough, as their nature depends directly on how you chose to build your hero at the beginning of the game. Like the Books, you will have to start by defining the core abilities of the Lone Wolf that you will play. Will you take a direct but reckless approach, or will you rather rely on your skill and intuition to overcome obstacles? What will be your favorite weapon? And what Kai disciplines will you choose to master, knowing that these will be at the heart of the decision-making throughout the game.
To defeat the legions of the Dark Masters (mainly of Glocks, Drakkarim, Gourgaz and other Vordaks), you will also have to make use your weapons and summon the power of Sommer’s Glaive. Throughout the game, your stats (strength, intelligence, dexterity) will evolve according to the way you play, depending on the choices you make and the talents you use. That’s where we get out of the traditional book experience, and go into a sort of Active Time Battle and turn-based combat, where you pick your attacks based on your endurance and Kai power levels (for physical or discipline based attacks). Hand-to-hand attacks include techniques and combos that depend on your main weapon and what you hold in your free hand (shield or secondary weapon). The more you fight with a particular weapon, the more you will gain skills, and start inflicting debuff that will drain the lives of your opponents.
Review: Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf was reviewed using a Nintendo Switch digital download code of the game provided by Forge Reply. The game is also available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, iOS and Android devices in digital releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• A beautiful homage to the lost era of gamebooks
• The last story written by Joe Dever
• Decent combat mechanics
• Huge lifespan and replayability
• Your choices do not have that much effect on the core story
• Combat can be quite repetitive
• Might not be for everyone