Howl Review – Bark at the Moon

Howl Review – Bark at the Moon

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Sony PS5, Microsoft Xbox Series X, Windows PC, Steam

Game Name: Howl

Publisher: astragon Entertainment

Developer: Mi'pu'mi Games GmbH

Genre: Adventure, Strategy

Release Date: November 14th, 2023

ESRB Rating: T For Teen

Howl by Mi’pu’mi Games GmbH

Turn-based strategy games and puzzle games are peas in a pod. Both reward careful planning, dynamic reactions to new information, and – occasionally – pure trial and error.

It’s a combination that’s worked before in games like Desktop Dungeons, and if Howl is any indication, it will continue to do so.

Hungry Like the Wolf

A mysterious howl is echoing throughout the kingdom, turning all those who hear it into wolf-like beasts. As a deaf prophet, your goal is simple: slay the beasts, save who you can, and discover the mysterious fate of your missing brother.

Howl’s story is a simple but effective set-up for the game, accentuated by well-acted narration that keeps things focused. That said, this experience really is much more about the gameplay, which, much like the story, is easy to understand but slowly reveals more over time.

Every round in Howl is executed the same way. You have a number of turns where you can do one of four set actions: move a space along the grid-like map, wait, shoot one of your three arrows, or shove in a direction.

Between each turn, enemies will act, usually by trying to take the shortest path to you. If one hits you, you lose all subsequent turns in the round as well as one of your two hearts. Get hit again, and it’s time to restart the level.

It may sound like I’m simply describing a standard strategy game, but Howl uses these simple rules to create thoughtful puzzles out of each level.

You’re rewarded for completing levels within a certain number of turns as well as killing every enemy on a map. This means you’re constantly planning the most efficient course of action, especially given your arrows – your main source of attack – are limited. Howl also constantly adds challenges in the form of new abilities, enemies, and other surprises along the way.

Howling from the Grave

This may sound like a lot, but thankfully Howl does an admirable job of balancing out the challenge with its user-friendly gameplay.

There are no time limits to worry about, levels can be restarted at any time, and turns can be rewound if you make a mistake (though personally, I’m not sure if I like how rewinds are a limited-use resource).

You’re also meant to learn how enemies work yourself, but if that proves to be frustrating, the game boasts a helpful Assist Mode that lets you see exactly what each enemy will do on their turns. In short, it’s a game that wants you to challenge and enjoy yourself, not pull your hair out.

Howl is also helped tremendously by its gorgeous artwork. The watercolor style it borrows is both lush and easy to parse, meaning details you need to pay attention to never get lost in the mix. It’s a game where I feel comfortable describing every element as “elegant,” and for puzzle or strategy fans, it’s a must-play.

Howl is available via the Nintendo Game Store, PlayStation Store, Xbox Live, and Steam.

Watch the trailer for Howl below:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.