Seasons of the Wolf for PC
Western-made visual novels are rare. RPG hybrids similarly so, but they do exist. Winterwolves is one of the few companies still dedicated to the cause. In fact, they’re probably one of the most prolific. With over 20 titles in their repertoire, Winterwolves has the experience to back up an RPG, dating sim visual novel.
Tales of Aravorn: Seasons of the Wolf is the latest title from them. Mostly RPG, Seasons of the Wolf takes place in the same world and gameplay tradition as Loren the Amazon Princess. It’s similarly excellent as well, with a great story and characters and an invigorated combat system.
Seasons of the Wolf is thankfully not an episodic game, despite what the title might indicate. The game is broken up into chapters and seasons as it follows the story of Shea and Althea, snow elves from a distant land. Opening in medias res as they duke it out with orcs as slaves in an arena, Seasons of the Wolf has a “literary” high fantasy tone.
The narrative does a good job of balancing the focus between the twins. No matter which the player chooses to “control,” both Shea and Althea get their share of the spotlight in the common narrative moments. Inter-personal relationships are when the differences really shine.
Because despite picking different characters, the story will write itself around the chosen protagonist. For example, after a scripted fight with goblins, one of the twins gets poisoned. Who gets poisoned is determined by the player’s choice of protagonist. It’s a nice touch; instead of being stuck with the sibling that gets carted off to the healer the player gets to see the important bits firsthand no matter what.
Those interpersonal relationships, though, are strictly character-specific. Each sibling gets a straight and a homosexual romance option. Those dialogues are always fun to read, but the writing in general is quite good. The story’s chapters play out with appropriate amounts of humor, and the division into seasons makes for a good flow.
Outside of the story, most of the player’s time will be spent wandering the map. Buying and selling inventory, picking up quests, and picking fights are the order of the days in Seasons of the wolf. Where Loren had a world map to pursue quests, Seasons of the Wolf uses isometric maps split into areas with points of interest.
Each map has a set of quests and locations that can be discovered. Completing all the quests and discovering all the locations grants bonus experience, which is a nice incentive to see everything. Not all quests are easily obtainable either, demanding that the player “explore” as much as possible. At the same time, completing quests earns fame which directly translates into store discounts.
Points on the map will either be stores, places to get quests, start dungeons, start fights, or taverns to heal up at. Combat occurs on a separate screen where the player’s party of up to six characters faces off against an enemy group of the same. Sometimes battles will occur in waves with no break; others will involve bosses.
The battles themselves have strong tactical depth and are challenging even on Normal difficulty. Playing on Easy requires little to no player thought; anything else requires at minimum careful consideration of a myriad of factors. Seasons of the Wolf features a very large number of battlefield variables. Elemental effects, physical effects, battlefield conditions, and resistances all need to be managed.
Taking advantage of these are the character skills and abilities. The siblings select one of three classes: ranger (fighter with a heal spell), hunter (melee/ranged rogue-type), or druid (pure heal/magic artillery with a couple buffs). Other party characters comes from a wide variety of classes, each with their own unique skill sets. Each character can also spend skill points on “traits” instead, earning basic boosts to abilities that stack with levels.
Visually, Seasons of the Wolf is the exact same style as Loren, in the best possible way. The character designs, while following the same aesthetic, are rich and detailed. The landscapes, enemies, and maps are colorful and nice to look at.
Seasons of the Wolf also goes easy on the ears with a suitably swooping orchestral soundtrack. While it lacks a certain ‘oomph’ and character, it matches moods well. If it strikes one’s fancy it might be worth downloading the mp3 soundtrack add-on, but it’s not a definite buy.
Overall Seasons of the Wolf is a solid RPG. With excellent art, fun strategic combat, visual novel storytelling methods, and interesting characters it checks all the boxes required for a solid experience. Some might be turned away initially by the presentation, but Seasons of the Wolf is a must-play for fans of the RPG genre.