Review: Wolfsmoon

Under a pale moon…

Wolfsmoon is a chilling text adventure with graphics that unquestionably add to the pleasure of playing.

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!)

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. 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!

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