Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest Review – Pet Werewolves
Developed by Different Tales
Published by Walkabout
Available on PC
There has never been a video game based on Werewolf: The Apocalypse before. There’s been a few efforts, but they’ve all been canceled. In a way, that puts a rather heavy burden on Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest. It’s not just the first Werewolf: The Apocalypse video game, but it has to be good enough to justify future games. There’s a lot riding on it. However, there’s some good news. Heart of the Forest is a compelling and straight up impressive first effort for the brand.
You play as Maia Boroditch, a woman who just arrived in Poland in the hopes of discovering more about her family history. She has been having dreams about Białowiża Forest, so her hopes are that she can figure something out there. It turns out there’s quite a lot for her to learn. Before long Maia will dive into her family history, her obligations to the woods, and why everyone seems to hate her family. That’s not all though, as currently the government is logging in Białowiża Forest and Maia needs to figure out if she’ll support the protesters in destroying them or find a compromise to keep everyone happy. It’s going to be a crazy few weeks.
While Heart of the Forest is a werewolf game, it’s in the title after all, the werewolf stuff isn’t really the main attraction. It’s a game about environmentalism first, and much of it about Maia’s actions in trying to protect the forest while also learning humanity’s place in the cycle. Depending on your choices, you may spend the majority, if not the entire game, as a human and only vaguely interacting with the werewolves around you. If you’re expecting to be a werewolf and go on a bloody rampage… well that’s also an option. You can just as easily werewolf out early in and then use this to rip people’s heads off until you’ve stopped the logging that way. Your call really.
It’s a little tough to really say how your story will go, and this is something Heart of the Forest really excels at. The choices are going to lead somewhere different, and each little choice will help push you in one direction or another. In my story, I made the decision to try and be a storyteller who would go on a big PR blitz, live streaming in the forest, and defacing the logger’s stuff. There’s also the option to just become the biggest, angriest, werewolf, and tear off the logger’s heads. Or I could become a peace broker, making a treaty for the several factions.
Perhaps the only catch to all these choices is that there’s no easy way to go back and try something different on a whim. If you want to see a different timeline you can’t just go to a chapter selection screen or skip through stuff you’ve already played. You need to start the game over again from the very beginning. It’s a little frustrating, but as a whole Heart of the Forest only took me about two hours to finish so it’s not like that’s a massive time commitment.
When you make decisions you’ll also be managing a few different stats. Maia’s rage can change the outcome, allowing her to charge into combat without fear, or take a more levelheaded approach and analyze a situation. You also have willpower, which you gain by completing objectives in the storyline and can spend on actions that are particularly difficult to do. See a corpse and want to move it? You’ll have to use willpower to do that. You also have health, which is, well… health. If you run out of either willpower or health it’s not game over, but it does make certain actions in the game more difficult to do until you can recover either resource. There’s always the thought of “can I afford to expend that now?” with each decision, but willpower is at least given out at a steady enough pace that I wasn’t super worried.
No matter what’s going on, you’ll get a chance to experience some fantastic art. Each scene in Heart of the Forest uses some absolutely lovely pictures, which are often superimposed on other pictures to create really striking images. When the game decides to go full horror it manages to do so just as well, with terrifying descriptions and pictures edited to be as creepy as possible. Maybe it’s me, but I’m just a total sucker for the “taking a person and crossing out their eyes” look that the game goes for.
If you’re looking for a solid werewolf story, then Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Heart of the Forest is the story for you. If you’re not interested in the werewolf bits, this is still a very well written pro-environment story that hits upon several human notes. If you want a bloody werewolf massacre, the option is there and you can murder to your hearts content. Either way, Maia’s tale is worth not only experiencing, but replaying just to see all the ways it can play out.