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A Wolf in Autumn' review

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The world spins and whirls around you as you rise from a mat on the floor of a shed. Shafts of vibrant sunlight filter through the cracks in the wooden wall. A key dangles from a string in front of you. In the distance you hear the sound of wolves.

'A Wolf in Autumn' is a new horror/adventure game from David Szymanski for PC. The game is very short, taking me just about an hour to complete. It has no save system since it's meant to be played in one sitting. I probably could have finished it in a about 40 minutes, but a couple of puzzles dragged it out.

As opposed to many smaller story-based games, this gamedoes have actual puzzles. The way they are handled is for the most part very interesting. Most puzzles can be solved with normal, real-world logic in more than one way. For instance, in the beginning you can use scissors to cut down the key and then use that to unlock the door. You can also use an ice pick to pick the lock. It was refreshing to see that sensible solutions worked.

Sadly, in a game that is so short, one or two bad puzzles can really hamper it - and this game has two. They both involve turning two handles on a pipe to open a door to a basement. I spent about 10 minutes clicking those handles into every combination. Eventually I realized that I had to also push a small button that was the same color as the panel it was on when the handles were in the right place. Another puzzle right near the end revisits the pipes and isn't as confusing but has a loading screen between the pipe and where you can see if you have been successful.

The story is interesting. You receive messages from your mother urging you to stay in the shed. As the game progresses, she grows increasingly angry. You hear wolves in the background. You get little story hints, like the fact that you have one hand. The resolution is sort of unsatisfying, but there is some room for interpretation.

The game is built on the ever-popular Unity Engine. It doesn't look bad for a Unity game made by one person. My biggest gripe with the graphics is that it can be hard to pick out things in the environment sometimes. The lighting can be legitimately impressive at times, though.

I'm all for short form games, especially when they are priced at $2. I can't complain that the game was too short for the cost, but I will complain that the game was too short for its own good. Even another 30 or 40 minutes could have gone a long way. The story and gameplay both feel a little incomplete.

'A Wolf in Autumn' is a game with some interesting ideas. It won't go down in history or be a smash hit, but I think it shows Szymanski is one to watch.

Last modified on Tuesday, 03 November 2015 20:11


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