Growing up in the 1980s and ’90s, I always found myself grabbing for a Choose Your Own Adventure or Twistaplot book. You know how it goes – you’re the character in the story and you make choices as to what your character will do. Go to one page, you could suddenly die; hit another, and you continue along the story. Twistaplots were my favourite – I recently tracked down a dozen books from the series, including my all-time favourite, The Sinister Studios of KESP-TV. As I got older, I also read the Fighting Fantasy books from Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston, which were more along the lines of a Dungeon and Dragons-type adventure, where you were asked to roll the dice to make your moves (truth – I never once played that way).
One series I didn’t actually experience was the Lone Wolf series of game books created by Joe Dever. The series includes 29 books and has amassed a serious following. The title revolves around the titular character, the last of a group of monks known as Kai Lords, who roam the world of Magnamund. However, while I may not have read about the adventure of Lone Wolf growing up, that’s now changed here in the 21st century, with the release of the new Nintendo Switch game, Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf.
As per the promotional copy:
Lone Wolf is back, as a video game with a brand-new story, a deep combat system, stunning graphics and much more! Make meaningful choices and carve your own path through this epic non-linear adventure. Test your strength in dynamic turn-based battles, prove your skill with the lock-picking minigame and accept the challenge of wits posed by the mysterious Shianti Cube!
Not having any experience with Lone Wolf at all, I was extremely pleased when I started playing the game, developed by the Italian company, Forge Reply. I had zero expectations as it loaded, and what I found was a wonderful melding of video games and the books of my youth. First of all – the game is reliant on actual reading, which isn’t a problem since the story itself has been written by Lone Wolf’s creator. For this novice, I found Dever’s prose to be immediately engaging. Even though I haven’t visited Magnamund before, I quickly felt I was a part of the world. Keep in mind – there is a ton of reading that you’ll encounter in Lone Wolf. If that’s not your thing when playing a video game, I immediately suggest passing on this one. However, if you’re up for it, you won’t be disappointed or bored with the story.
Throughout the game, you’re given the option to make choices – which way you go, how you interact with events and characters. While those are done with a push of a button, when it comes to do battle with the various monsters you’ll encounter on the road, Lone Wolf shifts into a turn-based battle. While the fight scenes look great, it’s here that the game play is a little dicey. I still fumble around trying to figure out what buttons do what, what icons mean, etc., and this is on easy mode! A little more clarity or instructions while in battle off the top would have definitely been a plus here, and I can see less committed players getting frustrated. I can often be one of those types, but because I found the story so compelling, I allowed myself some patience to figure things out – the ability to retry the battles immediately rather than to start at a certain checkpoint first is definitely a plus.
For those of us that grew up loving to choose our own adventures AND play video games, I’d absolutely recommend picking up Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf on the Nintendo Switch. It retails for $14.99 US/$16.99 Canadian in the Nintendo e-store, and for that price it’s a steal.