[REVIEW] Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest
[A Demo Copy was Provided by Walkabout Games, This is a Non-Sponsered Review. My Opinions are my Own. Links are provided in this Review to where you can find more information about the setting, world, and lore that is Werewolf: The Apocalypse]
Heart of the Forest is a Visual Novel taking place in the World of Darkness, Werewolf: The Apocalypse setting. In Werewolf: The Apocalypse “the Garou (werewolves) [are] made to defend the earth from the cosmic forces that threaten to tear it apart.”  https://whitewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Werewolf:_The_Apocalypse
Heart of the Forest takes place in Central Europe, as you take the role of Maia, an American with blood ties to Bialowieza, a town in Poland home to a mysterious spiritual forest, and home to even deeper and darker mysteries. [If you want to read more about the real-life place: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bia%C5%82owie%C5%BCa_Forest]
Maia has been dreaming of a forest in Bialowieza, the forest giving her drive and meaning to find the answers. You [The Player], get to decide what the question is. And that question becomes your drive throughout the game.
Your choices also influence what type of person Maia is, how others see her, and eventually, what her Auspice is.
Auspice is “The phase of the Moon under which a Garou was born.”  https://whitewolf.fandom.com/wiki/Auspice_(WTA)
Your choices influence what phase of the moon your Maia is, during my first playthrough of this game, picking this as I would have picked them myself, Maia was born under the Cresent Moon, and therefore was born a Theurge.
I realized quickly that this game was never going to be the same for two people playing it. My Maia was calm, timid, and open to the unknown as well as other people. The other characters were either very trusting of Maia or Sympathetic to her (the reason for their Sympathies was something I yearn to learn when the full game comes out) and even the forest itself seemed to be alive and responsive to my choices.
This game is a one-of-a-kind experience for players and really takes them on a journey that you otherwise wouldn’t be taking if you were following a guide or trying to brute force your way into the choices you want. With breathtaking artwork that is both beautiful, mysterious, and sometimes showing the true horrors of what being open to the world can be like, I found myself falling in love with it almost instantly.
The fact that the developers and writers of this game took their time to research and adore not only the world of the game but the World of Darkness itself, is shown throughout the mechanics. While this is a chose your own adventure (visual novel) game, mechanics come into play into what you are able to choose (some branches of the novel require spending Willpower, other make you gain Rage) and special dialogue that can only be seen if certain requirements have been met (having low or high rage, spending willpower, how certain characters see you).
A thing you have to do in this game, is balance Rage, and Willpower.
Rage shows how focused you are at your emotions, you’re quick to action and more prone to aggression. Different moments in the story allow you to gain Rage, as you lose perception of what can be morally grey. Those with a low Rage, however, will be less likely to take action in moments of danger, but makes you more perceptive to the feelings of others around you.
Willpower: Allows you to face things that can be emotionally difficult and grants unique insight into others. By moving towards your goal (which you get to decide for yourself), you find yourself regaining spent Willpower. However should you let this fall to 0, you may find yourself missing out on opportunities that otherwise could help you gain that understanding.
I think my favorite part of this game, and the thing I’m most excited to explore, is the fact that the Forest is a Character. The Forest will judge you, it will feel for you, and it will make you feel for it.
I have already added the full game to my wishlist, and in fact this game inspired me to pick up a copy of Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary as a hard-copy
You can add Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Heart of the Forest to your Steam Wishlist today! The full game is set to come out Q4 of 2020. https://store.steampowered.com/app/1342620/Werewolf_The_Apocalypse__Heart_of_the_Forest/
You can purchase Werewolf: The Apocalypse via DriveThruRPG (or your local TTRPG Bookseller) here: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/112871/Werewolf-The-Apocalypse-20th-Anniversary-Edition