Howl from astragon Entertainment and Mi’pu’mi Games is a solid tactical turn-based narrative fairytale experience on Nintendo Switch. Learn more about it in our Howl review!
Howl from astragon Entertainment and Mi’pu’mi Games is a solid tactical turn-based narrative fairytale experience on Nintendo Switch. For this game, you’ll take on the role of a deaf prophetess who is the only one who can take on the current acoustic plague that ends up turning people into beasts that then propagate the plague. The game is presented through a living ink watercolor art style that helps to make each location and every character and enemy pop on your TV screen or on the Nintendo Switch’s screen. And yes, as the game’s name suggests, and as you can see from the trailer and screens in this Howl review, the game features wolfish creatures as your opponents.
While doing a straight-up tactical RPG would be good enough, the team at Mi’pu’mi Games decided to take things one step further to give a new spin to the genre. In tactical games, you always need to stay one step ahead of your opponents if you want to survive, all while making the most of your character(s) abilities. For Howl, you’ll need to stay up to six steps ahead of your enemies – once you unlock additional slots on the scroll – so that you can outsmart them and rescue potential victims before it’s too late and they end up turning into beasts.
You’ll be taking on 60 levels of increasing difficulty spread over four chapters, during which your skills will be put to the test. There are different types of enemies, so you’ll need to pay attention to learn their movement and attack patterns, as well as what abilities they can use. Mistakes will be made along the way since this is very much a game that requires some trial and error on your end so that you can find your groove. You might want to save all the villagers, but if you don’t plan your actions just right, some of them will end up falling for the plague!
To play Howl, you’ll be moving a cursor along the grid with the D-Pad or using the left or right analog sticks. With this, you’ll be selecting the path that your character will take and the actions it will perform. Skills can be selected by pressing the L button and pressing left or right on the D-Pad. You can shoot your weapon by pressing and holding down the ZR button.
Your turn will be split into planning movement and actions. For movement, it’s as simple as selecting the route you’ll take and deciding where your character will end up. For actions, you’re going to have to select the deck of cards at the end of the movement scroll. It’s then that you’ll decide if you’re going to shoot an arrow, use an ability like the radiant light that can push enemies back, or wait.
As you progress through the game, you’ll earn two different types of resources: Confidence and Skulls. You can earn 3 Confidence when you complete a level when you complete it within the turns contemplated by the Prophecy, which you can check on the upper left corner of the screen. Skulls are obtained by defeating enemies. You might run into some levels in which you won’t be able to obtain all Confidence or all Skulls in a single go. You can also save strangers by moving into them, which will reward you with 1 Confidence.
What other abilities will you gain access to in order to have a shot at victory? It will all depend on how good you are at slaying the wolfish enemies on your path. Doing this will reward you with experience points, which will allow you to level up, thus obtaining new abilities. Your first new ability will be Force, which you can obtain by placing an offering of 5 Skulls before the 6th level in the game. But in order for you to be able to use Force in subsequent levels, you’ll first need to spend some of your Confidence to upgrade the scroll so that you can gain a fourth slot. After obtaining an ability, you’ll have the option of spending some extra Confidence to improve it.
Take the aforementioned Force ability gained after placing 5 Skulls as an offering. When you first unlock it, Force will deal 1 damage and push the target back 2 tiles. On top of that, enemies that are pushed will be confused and end up losing their next turn. Upgrade Force, and the damage dealt to the first target within 2 tiles will go up to 2 damage, and the target will be pushed back 4 tiles, which can certainly make a big difference!
Using abilities is also important since you can use them to damage enemies without spending arrows. Yes, arrows are also limited! To balance things out, abilities will have a cooldown after using them so that you don’t abuse them. Something else you can buy with the Confidence you gain on this journey is Undo Round Points. If you make a mistake and the prophetess loses all her health points, then you can use an Undo Round Point to take a step back and rethink your strategy so that, by using what you now know, you can set up a better strategy.
Since the wolfish enemies will always decide to take the shortest path to their target, you’ll have to rush to someone’s aid in as few moves as possible while also keeping the prophetess safe. Oh, and if two paths are equally distant, enemies will decide to take the horizontal path. Knowing this is key if you want to enjoy your time with Howl on Nintendo Switch. The game helps you a bit with this by having the level grid show a gap in its vertical lines so that you can remember this.
You always need to pay attention to a level’s layout and to the enemies around you if you want to make it to the end. You must make sure that the Prophecy is fulfilled! Your character will have an amount of hearts for you to keep an eye on since if you’re careless and lose all hearts, the Prophecy will fail, and you’ll have to replay the level – or use an Undo Round Point once you gain access to them. Something else to consider is that losing a heart will interrupt the planned scroll, so you’ll have to rethink your strategy!
Howl is a solid tactical turn-based narrative fairytale experience. As a deaf prophetess, you’re tasked with making the Prophecy come true so that you can eradicate the acoustic plague that spreads through the land, turning those it reaches into a new wolfish monster that will then continue to propagate the plague. Can you use your arrows, your abilities, and your cunning to save as many people as possible? The game offers an Assist Mode so that gamers of all skill levels can have a chance at seeing the end of this adventure. While Assist Mode is on, you’ll be able to see the movements and attacks that your enemies will make, which makes it a lot easier to plan your round. Howl is out on Nintendo Switch with a $14.99 price tag.
This Howl review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by astragon Entertainment.