Guise of the Wolf is a first person puzzle game with a cell shaded aesthetic set in a medieval castle where you play as an alchemist tasked with defeating a werewolf. The twist becomes that you are stricken with lycanthropy and after dabbling in some potions, you unlock the ability to control yourself as a werewolf. Its a game that has charm enough to be playable despite being ripe with imperfections such as stiff animations, clipping through background objects, poor voice acting and seeing through the seems of objects just to name a few.
The bulk of the game, you’re in a snowy castle that does a good job of detailing the look and making it convincing as a real place that someone could live in. There’s a kitchen, a dungeon, a main hall, a courtyard and so on. The dungeon has bear traps set for the werewolf, so always look at the brown floor to see the rust colored traps. Stepping on one or any kind of death will restart you at the last frequent checkpoint.
There are a few characters to interact with. Some with instructions and other are there just to flesh out an area. They are voice acted and as wooden as the acting is, I’d rather hear it than read it. That’s one of the game’s issues, hearing the text. Even with the sound cranked up in the settings, the speech from person to person is inconsistent. Some are soft while others are clear.
You’ll encounter the werewolf a few times where your only choice is to run. There are levers to pull that will spare your life when a gate comes crashing down to separate you. For a budget game, the werewolf’s animation is serviceable, but its basic. Every animation is basic in the game, but at least the characters have moving mouths. Almost nothing else moves though. No one blinks, but they seem to breathe by slowly bobbing at the knees.
When you become a werewolf, you have the ability to dash and destroy objects like twenty stone statues or barricades. You can even maul citizens to death. To transform at key moments, simply stand in the moonlight for long enough until your character drops to the ground and his arms get longer, grow claws and hair. Its a basic system that lets you get to the next area. Your time as a werewolf is limited, the moon on your screen will time how much time you have left. Its a good mechanic.
The game is linear, but you’ll still have to search around a bit to discover things like ingredients for a potion or a lever to open a door. You can even see your current objective in the inventory, but its never that far away. Its good if you take a long hiatus from the game.
The controls feel like a lot of other games, mouse to look, keys or controller to move. You have buttons and keys to interact, run, a pathetic jump, map, inventory and cancel. Its a game that is self explanatory that keeps you on point and task. It quarantines you in an area until you figure out how to progress. If you try to proceed without doing what you need to, the game will prevent you from leaving.
You’ll need to look in your inventory, select them and find something to use them with such as giving an apple to a prisoner that could kill for an apple rather than saying, “Could I bother you for some food? You see no one has fed me in quite a while, in fact you are the first person I’ve seen in maybe a day.” You’ll need an item that breaks down weak doors and drop ingredients in a cauldron to make a potion.
The puzzles are never anything that cryptic and solving one will lead you to the next area in fact the game will often tell you what needs to be done and you figure out how to do it. There are switch puzzles, places where you’ll need to mix a potion using a list. Just follow the instructions. You can even pick the locks on a treasure chest by clicking four switches to make four tumblers shift into position. Its a fluff mini game, but its still engaging at the same time.
As simple as these tasks are, there is a moment early on in the game where you need to realize that you’re supposed to pick pocket a guard for the key. This is so cryptic and soon into the game that it can turn people away from the game forever. A different guard comically tells you no one is allowed to pass, but he’ll let you pass for two hundred gold. Now go loot the castle. What? That’s like having a bank tell you, sorry you don’t have enough for an account, but if you rob us, you’d have enough.
I have to say the cell shading makes the game stand out in a good way. There are so many games without it, that just look awful. Its better to have something that looks unique and better than cheap. The torches and light affects do a lot to enhance the visuals as well, but upon closer inspection you can see faults with the art style. The black lines are drawn as objects rather than on the textures themselves. So if you put your nose up to something like a book or a bar, you can see black lines floating. One specific giant crack in the wall is just in front of the wall, so if you move, the crack will shift position on the wall. Its nothing game breaking, but its still noticeable.
Guise of the Wolf has a lot of noticeable faults. Walking through bushes and chests. When you click on something in the menu or your inventory, you need to move your mouse cursor off it in order to click it a second time. The fireplaces look tiny compared to the beds. Rather than pushing a door, its the handle you need to interact with, even if there is no handle. The alter in the church is up to your chin, as are some of the tables. Some barrels you can only click on their lower half from far away and last, it just looks funny seeing your hand as a cursor on a character’s body parts.
Its two biggest sins are the cryptic pick pocket leads to frustration and its production values fall short. With better animation, the game would excel to its audience, but it still needs some hint that you can pick pocket. These are both things that could be fixed, along with the visual issues and the menu. There is a good game under all of this that people can still enjoy.
While I like the game its tough to recommend with all the hate it gets. I can overlook its faults, because they’re all visual and it still manages to interesting to me. The problem is that a few years after the game’s release and these minor issues never went away.