First Impressions – Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf HD Remastered

In the time when I had neither a computer nor a console, nor a home computer aka bread box and the first DSA group had dissolved because of, ahem, interpersonal quarrels, the game books of Joe Dever, Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson were more than just adequate replacements. With a cube, a sheet of paper, a pencil and an eraser, Magnamund’s journey through the world of caves and dark forests was a page after page battle. It was a struggle with self-control when, after a fatal wrong decision, one was tempted to cancel the last step.

These game books have been enjoying a small revival for a few years now. In Germany, Mantikore Verlag not only reissued the series “Einsamer Wolf” by Joe Dever, but also completely revised it, retranslated it and published adventures that were not published by Goldmann Verlag in German for the first time. There are also more and more digital versions of popular single titles. And not just as PDF or HTML documents from official or unofficial sources, but as real, interactive games.

A few days ago “Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf HD Remastered” was released for PC via Steam. As far as I know chronologically located after the end of the last volume, the last of the Kai Lords is experiencing a new adventure here.

The game visually makes a very high-quality and opulent impression. Single pages are turned rustlingly, the UI is stylish and polished. Again and again the text is illustrated with illustrations. For battles, the graphics morph from an illustration almost seamlessly into a pretty 3D view, where it is then in a real-time battle to select special attack tactics, weapons, items and special abilities.

The sound effects are fitting and crisp and the soundtrack itself … …leaves no wish unfulfilled. From a purely production point of view, this is a round, clean thing.

In no time at all one is in the story and in my mind I sit again at my small youth desk and smell the paper. Actually, the game leaves nothing to be desired, especially for fans of the book series. Actually. But as always, the devil lies in the details.

As already mentioned, the game has also been released for the PC. But the main platforms were Android and iOS pads. Although the game can be operated quite well and easily with mouse and keyboard, especially in realtime battles you quickly reach the limits of mouse and keyboard. Although the developers have put a lot of effort into the implementation so that almost everything can be triggered and controlled via keyboard shortcuts in combat, I find it very difficult at first to trigger special actions within the story or during a battle that decide on the success or failure of an action with the help of a QTE-like wipe control, correctly and above all in time enough. On a pad you just wipe the pattern with your finger, but with the mouse it’s much more bulky. Yes, you get used to it over time. No, it’s not a game breaker. But at least for me it remains an unsatisfying feeling. So if you want to get the game for your PC, be warned. Either you wait for a sale, look at an LP or get the test version to get a feel for the controls in these sections before even a cent changes owners.

When it comes to gameplay, of course, you orientate yourself on the role model. There are the well known abilities and equipment. The hero can throw in various potions during or outside the fight or meditate in safe places to restore stamina and health. Some injuries and poisonings have to be treated specially if you don’t want to face a shameful end, because the Lone Wolf has physically defeated all enemies in one place, but then announces with foam in front of his mouth the unavoidable collapse of vital cell membranes. So you should always pay attention to the injuries you have suffered during a fight. It also helps a lot if you could open all the boxes and find all the hiding places where you can often find enormously useful and important things. In this respect, the books were already a small survival sim.

Difficulty.

From the level of difficulty I wouldn’t necessarily hand the game to a bloody beginner in RPG now. Even though the game was primarily developed for pads, the target group was not the infamous “casual”, but the EW fan, who already devoured the books, who already has some experience in CRPG. One must consider already exactly, when one does which like. Blind forward storming is only rarely a good idea and to throw in potions, as if the wilderness is peppered every ten meters with beverage automats, does not represent also necessarily a wise proceeding. It is advisable to read the texts in peace, to remember which abilities one has chosen and then to act accordingly thoughtfully. As hectic as the real-time fights can be, the more calm and thoughtful one should be in the story itself. And those who are clever enough and make clever decisions can even avoid some fights or make them much easier. Here, too, the game clearly follows the book template. The fights themselves are often quite challenging enough, until you get the knack against certain types of opponents and sometimes quite unfair, if there is only this and really only this strategy to defeat an opponent and you like to try half a dozen times and more to figure out this strategy.

To sum it up…

All in all … on a pad it’s definitely great class, on a PC it’s easy to deduct the B-note because of the controls, even if, I can only repeat it, the developers tried hard to convert it and you can get used to it.

PS: The overlaps of “Lonely Wolf” with the Witcher series are striking, by the way. The developers of this game were inspired by the work of the CD project in terms of art design and gameplay mechanics. And whether Sapkowski at least unconsciously had the last Kai Lord in mind, when Geralt took shape in his head or Dever and Sapkowski simply had access to the same morphogenetic fields at that moment … one doesn’t know it

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