Something calls to you, in your dreams. A place, dark and beautiful, old and wise, but in pain. The pain fills your ears with a hum, your bones vibrating to the rhythm. You feel a desire to scream, to fight, to kill, the pain becoming yours. Then you wake up.
In Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest, you play as Maia. You have travelled to Poland to learn more about your family roots and to find the place that calls to you in your dreams, again and again. Białowieża Forest is ancient and full of secrets and surprises, powerful things that tug on your emotions, that tug on your mind calling you deeper towards barrows and abandoned dens.
Heart of the Forest is developer Different Tales next narrative-heavy adventure. Following in the footsteps of Wanderlust: Travel Stories, this game puts you in the someone else’s shoes, telling a story through text and beautiful artwork. However, instead of managing finances and stress for a traveller, this time you have to focus on the various bits of the Werewolf tabletop roleplaying game, managing your Rage and your Willpower as you try to uncover your ancestry.
From what I have seen so far, Heart of the Forest blends real-world locations and local traditions with the supernatural. Deep in Central Europe, on the borderlands of Poland and Belarus, nature has survived almost untouched, almost primal. Your guide tells you that forest is not a good enough word to truly convey the nature of this place, full of animals, ancient trees, burial mounds and places of power.
Of course, humanity loves money, so loggers work illegally, greasing palms to make people look the other way as they cut into this ancient place. The trees scream out in pain and hatred, their voices calling to you to join in their screams, their fury. This is where your attributes come in handy. If you expelled your Willpower on other tasks, you might not be able to resist a strong call to action, or convince a friend to stay with you. Having a goal and achieving progress towards it will reward you with more Willpower, allowing you to push yourself to do more. However, underneath everything you have to watch your Rage carefully. Rage gets things done, but it might hurt someone in the process. Do you keep it bottled up, hoping to unleash it when necessary, or do you act out on your impulses to stop from walking around like an energetic bundle of explosive compounds? I think I will need that Rage to deal with the logging company. It looks like some eco-terrorism is in Maia’s immediate future.
With only 30 minutes of gameplay available right now, I found myself wishing for more. Just like with Wanderlust, I wanted to visit those actual locations, to see the magic for myself, to trace the steps of Maia through Białowieża. While it is completely impossible and impractical to travel right now, I look forward to seeing how Different Tales blends reality with roleplaying and I really hope that the final version has more of the text transitions and timings that Wanderlust had to help punctuate the scene.
I was a Storyteller Maia, born under the Gibbous moon, and I have never wanted to play the Werewolf roleplaying setting as much as I do right now.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest has a planned release for Q4 2020. You can wishlist the game here.