Released by the indie studio Mi’pu’mi Games in November 2023 for the Nintendo Switch, Howl is a tactical turn-based adventure game where you control a deaf protagonist trying to survive in a world ravaged by an eerie “howling plague.” The narrative is set in a mediaeval-inspired universe with a “living ink” aesthetic. It’s recommended for fans of tactical survival games.
One of the greatest aspects of the game is its choice of a disabled protagonist. Players embark on the quest as a deaf hero, delving into danger to unravel the mysteries of the “howling plague.” The narrative, while somewhat backgrounded, probably draws upon the grim storytelling reminiscent of the original Grimm fairy tales. It's a refreshing departure from conventional plotlines, adding an extra layer of depth to the overall gaming experience.
Another wonderful feature of the game is the “living ink” aesthetic. Navigating through the 60 levels of this dark fairytale world is sort of like flipping through the pages of a kid’s storybook brought to life. Each brushstroke contributes to an atmospheric palette that captures the essence of folklore. The acoustic guitar soundtrack complements this look and provides a harmonious backdrop to our prophet’s survival journey.
Howl is a puzzle-solving experience with a touch of tactical excellence. The turn-based encounters in Howl evolve from deceptively simple puzzles to intricate tactical challenges. Players must predict the consequences of each turn, planning actions strategically to survive in a chess-like puzzle where all pieces move at once. Like a masterful chess match, every move in Howl requires foresight and planning.
The gradual introduction of new abilities adds layers to the gameplay, mirroring the satisfying skill progression seen in many of our favourite titles. The game's progression system, tied to optional locations on the world map, is based on skulls and upgrade points, and offers flexibility, encourages replayability, and rewards methodical players with new skills. These abilities include, for example, versatile pushes and explosive arrows. The ability to upgrade these skills enhances the prophet's capabilities, allowing players to tackle increasingly challenging encounters. So, the game strikes a balance between difficulty and reward, creating a sense of accomplishment as players continue on the adventure.
- Disabled protagonist
- Living ink aesthetic
- Tactical, chess-like gameplay
While Howl excels in crafting intricate puzzles, there's a fine line between challenge and repetition. Some levels may lean towards a sense of déjà vu, especially with the insistence on collecting all the “skulls” of enemies. The balance between strategic difficulty and avoiding unnecessary repetition is an aspect where Howl, like many games, falters.
Also, during gameplay, an occasional bug was reported where the upgrade screen became temporarily locked. While this presented a slight annoyance, it had an easy workaround, and the active Discord community facilitated quick bug reporting and resolution. However, such bugs can disrupt the flow of the gaming experience. Navigating the dark fairytale world isn't always seamless, and occasional design flaws like these may disrupt the player's immersion. Whether it's a minor bug or a momentary hiccup in the game's flow, these issues, while not game-breaking, are noticeable and could benefit from some polish.
Additionally, Howl's goal to offer 60 levels might be both a strength and a weakness. While it promises a substantial gaming experience, there's a risk of stretching the narrative thin. The pace may lag at times, and players might find themselves hoping for a more concise yet intense adventure. Quality often trumps quantity, and probably Howl could benefit from a more focused approach to level design.
- Narrative-pacing issues
Final Score: 6/10
Howl by Mi'pu'mi Games is an enjoyable mix of strategic challenges and folkloric aesthetics, inviting players to immerse themselves in a world painted with “living ink.” For fans of turn-based tactical adventures, this is worth checking out. It may have its share of hiccups, but much like the protagonist's journey, the experience is about embracing the challenges.
Thank you for checking out our Howl Switch review, thank you to astragon Entertainment (via Homerun PR) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: