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Turn-based strategy games have been famous ever since the rise of the Strategy genre. In these games, players take turns playing pieces or performing actions in a play area against other players or AI opponents. Chess, backgammon, and checkers were some of the best examples of turn-based strategy games back in the day. With time, the genre has evolved, leading to further developments in the various franchises under its mantle. With time, there have been multiple games with their unique mechanics that help add more content to make the genre more appealing to newcomers to the gaming scene. Howl is an indie title that tries to add its unique flavor to the melting pot of strategy games.

Howl was developed by Mi’pu’mi Games and published by astragon Entertainment. Howl came out for the PC last year and had a PlayStation launch recently. The review was done on the PlayStation version of the game.

A Children’s Tale

Howl is a predictive strategy game with card-based mechanics. The player takes on the role of a female prophet who wants to protect her people from the clutches of savage beasts and a deadly plague that has left villages in shambles. The main character, being deaf, is immune to the “Howl”, a cry that turns grown folks into wild beasts (and hence the name of the game). The story is dynamic in nature, and all events happening on screen are narrated as they are happening – allowing the player to “make their own story” (even though the goals remain the same). On each level, the player will have to make their path from the entry point towards the exit point, taking turns to mark their path and/or actions in the palette. As actions are resolved, the palette is painted to show the transitions frame by frame – it is a beautiful experience.

Howl is a strategy game with card-based mechanics.

Howl gives the player access to two resources – confidence and skulls. To gain confidence, players need to complete levels within a set number of turns, while enemies need to be killed to gain skulls. These resources can be used to unlock more powerful abilities which help the prophet to force her way through more obstacles. Sometimes, certain levels may not be completed with 100% completeness – meaning there’s still some confidence or skulls to collect. These can be replayed later once unlocked to complete it fully. This felt like a wonderful way of adding replayability without adding unnecessary “padding” to make the players spend more hours in the game. Actions are depicted on the lower part of the screens and can be undone if players feel that they have made a mistake.

Howl allows players to unlock more powerful abilities later on which could be used to complete levels.

The prophet must kill the beasts to collect skulls and ensure the paths are safe again. There are a variety of abilities to use to guarantee this. In the beginning, players need to predict enemy paths (who always tend to levitate towards the prophet and prefer taking horizontal paths over vertical paths) and land arrows to get some kills. Later, as the prophet gains more abilities, players can unleash their creativity to kill enemies. What’s more, there is no single way to complete a level. Howl does send a reminder about the games from childhood which resembled this (level-based games where one had to complete objectives to get more stars) – this feeling is further accentuated by the fact that the narration resembles the childhood feeling of listening to stories being read out by an elder.

Prophetic Paintings

Howl’s artwork is a masterclass in itself. The design is so unique, it seems like a palette that gets re-painted with each action done on the board. The style of drawing also resembles the child-like drawings most players might have made thinking of the stories narrated to them by their parents or grandparents – fully driving home the feeling that the developers wanted to help revisit. It feels like opening a children’s storybook again and going back in age quite a few measly years without actually doing so.

Howl has a beautiful artstyle akin to the drawings in children's books.

The game’s narration leaves very little to flaw. The use of a feminine voice soothes the mind with minimal music being played in the background to help the players get immersed in the feeling. With Howl, it’s all about jumping on the feels train back to childhood, and the minimal sound effects help it cultivate that feeling.

Nostalgia Galore

Howl is a masterpiece in writing that takes the features from basic games like chess, adds a touch of childhood nostalgia, and supercharges it with card-based mechanics. There’s very little left to flaw here with this game. The game is quite cheap on the PlayStation store and is definitely worth a try. Players having a PlayStation Plus subscription are encouraged to download the game trial and give it a go – one session should be enough to make one take the nostalgia train back to the time when they were children.


Howl Review

Howl Review
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Howl is a turn-based tactical folktale set in medieval times. A sinister "howling plague" has ravaged the land, turning all who hear it into feral beasts. You play a deaf heroine plunging into danger in search of a cure.
Howl is a turn-based tactical folktale set in medieval times. A sinister "howling plague" has ravaged the land, turning all who hear it into feral beasts. You play a deaf heroine plunging into danger in search of a cure.
Total Score

The Good

  • Excellent design
  • Over-the-top narration
  • All features help build the nostalgia trip

The Bad

  • Game becomes repetitive after a while
  • Solutions to puzzles may not be fully apparent at first
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