Wizard Books, £5.99, ISBN 978-1-840468-38-0
I am not fond of Jonathan Green’s gamebooks in general, but delightfully enough, Howl of the Werewolf is a pleasure to read and play.
We have a poor sod – you, of course – a goody-goody warrior, who decide one fine night to take a short cut through the woods of Lupravia on your way to get to some nice R&R in a nearby settlement. It is a big mistake, as you are soon attacked by a werewolf and are turned into one yourself. If you don’t find a cure by the next full moon – by killing the Arch-Lycanthrope, the Big Daddy of the werecreatures that infest this cursed land – you are going to spurt fur all over your body and howl at the moon.
In my first play of this gamebook, I find it very easy to reach the big bad wolf in the end, but imagine my dismay when I realize that I have missed out a few crucial turns and therefore skipped over a major subplot altogether. Here’s a clue: you need to collect a few items to truly defeat the big bad wolf, and the paths in this story can be random enough to let you miss out on any of these items. I should know.
Still, even if the random nature of the plot can require one to go through the gamebook a few times, this one is a fabulous campaign with some great descriptive passages and plenty of creepy atmosphere. Fans of Ravenloft may be amused by the appearance of a Vampire Hunter named Van Richten and a Carnival slightly reminiscent of a certain mobile domain of the same name. There are some dungeons and mazes here that can be annoying when you find yourself coming back to the same locations, but here’s a tip: when that happens, leave the maze because there is nothing more to look for. Don’t overthink or overanalyze everything too much.
The only thing I dislike here is the need to take out a calculator and do some mathematics to get to a certain passage.
All in all, a very fun and creepy read, not too unfair in terms of beating the odds in fights and rolls, and a very well-depicted spooky setting.