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About the StoryIt is the fifteenth corpse. Among those they found.
More than twenty people have disappeared in the last few months. Some say it's a wild animal, stalking the outskirts of town. Some say it's a killer, a new kind of deviated christian, hunting his own kind.
But there's more to it. This town is no normal town. We have a history unlike any other.
It's November the seventh, in Elmville. And we sleep under the Wolfsmoon.
An old-style experience, with all the comforts of 2019.
Unravel the mysteries of Elmville, while you bathe in a pixel panorama!
Nominee, Best Use of Multimedia - 2019 XYZZY Awards
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Number of Reviews: 3
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Wolfsmoon features terse descriptions and responses to actions, instead letting its well-done pixel art do the work of setting the game's atmosphere. Commands are generally limited to verb-noun, although the game parses certain phrases like ATTACK [thing] WITH [other thing] well enough to tell you that ATTACK [thing] is sufficient if you're carrying the correct other thing. (It's written in Inform 7, after all.) There are few characters, and those who are present don't feature a wide range of responses, but this is in keeping with the older style of game Wolfsmoon is imitating.
As far as the story, you're investigating a series of murders around a small town. There are lots of ominous signals from the beginning that this might be due to werewolves, but the one police officer you meet is much more interested in her reading material than discussing the case with you. You'll have to marshal evidence and uncover the secret behind the murders on your own.
I found the puzzles to be mostly straightforward. The one exception is that I was stuck for a long time near the beginning of the game; I didn't realize that I could simply (Spoiler - click to show)take the boar cub. However, once I stumbled across that, playing through the remainder of the game went fairly smoothly. The game does subvert your expectations with respect to objects you find: Some are tools that end up being used in non-standard ways, and that added freshness to the puzzles.
There were a few moments that reminded me of other games: Zork 1, Anchorhead, The Chinese Room.
If you enjoy this older style of puzzle game, Wolfsmoon is well worth your time.
(I'd give the game three-and-a-half stars, but I'll round it up to four for IFDB purposes based on the enjoyable retro pixel art and the fact that it's reasonable to judge the game in the context of the older style it's aiming for.)
You play as an unnamed explorer who takes it upon him/herself to investigate a series of gruesome killings around a small farmtown. While looking around the town I found it honestly scary, thanks to small details like a family sitting safely inside their home while I was alone on the dark town square, a crooked scarecrow on the outskirts of the village and the ever-present pale moon hanging in the sky.
There are a few great puzzles here. All of them involve but two or three steps, but they are very clever, giving me a real "Aha"-feeling when I solved them.
The map of the town is altogether small, but it feels very naturally diverse, with wheat fields and hills surrounding the town. The graphics here do a lot to make the area feel bigger, more open than its number of locations. White, gray, black and blue, with a hint of red here and there, they add immensely to the oppressive atmosphere. The moonlit clouds almost take on a physical weight pressing down upon you.
After solving the cleverly bottlenecked puzzles outside, you gain entrance to the lone mansion in the fields. Here, for me at least, the feel of the game shifted from a creepy suspense-thriller to a more brainy escape-quest. You must examine all the rooms closely to gradually find your way into the master bedroom. This involves an obscurely clued combination lock puzzle that would have made me give up, were it not for an explicit solution I asked and received. (Thanks!) (btw: if you get stuck on the same puzzle -you'll know it when you see it- you can ask on intfiction.org, or just PM me.)
The final confrontation wraps things up nicely with a not-so-twisty twist.
It is clear from the writing that the author is not a native english speaker. Most of the time this is not a problem. In some places it's actually beneficial, with an uncommon twist of words that helps the game's atmosphere. In one place it was confusing, but a closer look at the graphics soon solved that. (Spoiler - click to show)The author uses "alcove", which I envision as a recess or crawlspace in a wall. It was used in the game to mean a smaller indentation or hollow in a surface. To be fair to the author, in several online dictionaries "alcove" is indeed listed as a synonym for "indentation".
The word that pops into my head when describing Wolfsmoon is "tight". The map is small yet full of atmosphere and things to explore. The number of verbs needed is limited but doesn't feel restrictive. The descriptions are efficiently terse and they are beautifully supported by wonderful pixel art.
Play this in a dark room on a moonlit night. Shivers!
This games passes all 5 points, but it just squeaks by on a few.
Polish: The graphics aid immensely in this area. A few things could be worded more graciously, like changing some more standard responses.
Descriptiveness: This is pretty easy to award. The game is lush in every way.
Interactivity: I struggled with verbs from time to time, and some puzzle solutions were obtuse, but some interactivity was so clever I just had to laugh. (a particular amusing example is (Spoiler - click to show)finding the silver key)
Emotional impact: Some of it was silly, but I felt a definite atmosphere throughout the game, and the villa portion was tense at times.
Play again: I see myself revisiting this in the future.
So that's my 5 star rating for you. It's a fairly simple game in structure, with some tricky puzzles. Best for fans of older style games, especially Scott Adams and Magnetic Scrolls.
If you enjoyed Wolfsmoon...
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PollsThe following polls include votes for Wolfsmoon:
For your consideration: XYZZY-eligible Best Use of Multimedia of 2019 by MathBrush
This is for suggesting games released in 2019 which you think might be worth considering for Best Use of Multimedia in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination.This is not an official list. The point of poll is partly to...
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