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Alpha Wolf, March 14, 2022
General Recommendation: I recommend this game, particularly to those looking for a well-branching narrative, those fond of traditional monster movies, and anyone looking for a fun and varied game.
Preview: Can you, a semi-washed up werewolf, reclaim your former glory days and make an impact on this world popultaed with characters from monster movies?
The idea of a world where monsters from horror B-movies live alongside humans is a truly unique concept that I’ve never seen done anywhere else. It’s a fresh idea with lots of possibility, and the wide variety of branches in this story explores it in a full and satisfying way, without ever letting the concept overstay its welcome. It’s not easy to put werewolves, mad scientists, and martians all in the same world and still have it feel natural, but all the elements of this story feel like they really could exist alongside each other.
Wolf’s pride in his own, and his struggles with his changing role in a new world are struggles many people can relate to. This parallel makes the character three dimensional and relatable, while not hitting the reader over the head with it.
Once again, EndMaster does an excellent job writing a character with an antisocial nature and aggression issues to be genuinely likeable, without falling into any of the common edgy pitfalls many similar characters do. Wolf is an excellent character, and the perfect choice to narrate this story. His done-with-everything attitude only makes the story’s campy aspects more fun and amusing.
The campy concept of movie monsters works well with the episodic tone of the story’s different plots. Each of the plots is its own little snapshot of Wolf’s life, allowing a glimpse into the colorful variety of characters and monsters you can encounter.
Despite each of the individual characters not having much screen time, each of them brings something new and interesting to the story, and it’s fun to see the variety of different inspirations for the characters in this story. A few highlights are the creature from the black lagoon, a typical long-winded posturing alien invader (I know he actually looks like bigfoot, but I kept visualizing him as the alien from looney tunes), an assortment of mad scientists (from Invisible to Fly), THEM!, killer plants.
I’d be quite curious to know the inspiration for this story, as it is a genuinely original concept.
-The opening paragraph does an excellent job of characterizing the narrator with “You also realize it’s still daylight. You hate waking up early.”
-As always, I’m not a big fan of extra information links. I do think they’re important in this story though, as without them it would be tough for the player to get a feel of this unfamiliar world and its characters. As usual, the pace of EndMaster’s writing style helps these links be genuinely entertaining rather than just info dumps to slog through.
-Selecting a werewolf to tell this story through is a good choice. Many movie monsters are too specific or strange to be familiar to the average reader, but everyone is familiar with the concept behind werewolves.
-I’m usually annoyed by random murder schemes against the main character, but the tone of this work and characterizationo of Jekyll make it believable.
-I like that the government is taking advantage of the mad science in this world. Too often, alternate universes that have a concept like this (such as “real life superpowers” or “wizards”) will ignore the obvious real-world implications of its developments. Details like this make the world feel much fuller.
-The ending of the super serum plot is a nice “and the adventure continues” way of wrapping things up. I came, I saw, I kicked ass, I didn’t get paid. Life goes on.
-Henry tries to do the supervillain thing and explain why he did everything, and Wolf is having none of this shit.
-Though the ending where you refuse Henry’s offer is obviously more mundane, it does a good job of showing what Wolf’s “typical” jobs are like.
-The martians being defeated by the common cold is both amusing, and scientifically accurate, especilly since Earth has a higher temperature and more biodiversity than Mars.
-Gil’s complaints about factories being built in his swamp is an excellent tone-setting detail, showing both reality of the world, and the frustration many of the old monsters are having with its changes.
-I like how Wolf and Godzilla are both fans of each other, the casual way in which they interact fits the nature of the story’s humor.
-Moreau’s “paradise” has obviously been on the tipping edge for a while. In the endings where you do talk the inhabitants into standing up for themselves, the island descends into violence soon afterwards.
-Lol, Andre can’t get ANY free sugar packets? He’s clearly just not trying hard enough.
-It’s interesting that many of the monsters (like Kong) have gotten used to human comforts. It just shows how much the world has changed for them.
-It’s amusing that Wolf’s main beef with the body snatchers is how boring they are. UPDATE: Curses! Defeated by the history of cabinet making!
-It would have been interesting to see the storyline with the killer plants developed a little more, they’re certainly a staple of the genre and lend themselves to a wide variety of plots.
-After the (fun) chaos of the previous arcs, the plotline with Lawrence and Mary is a surprising and pleasant diversion. It’s nice that Wolf gets the chance to reconnect with his ex and his son, and meet some new family members he can be proud of.
-It’s both interesting and in character that Wolf remains satisfied as long has he gets pretty much any ending other than death. He’s attached to the “Alpha Wolf” image, and reassures himself that he’s still top dog no matter what, even in the pathes where he’s failed to assert himself.
-Interesting that Wolf hasn’t run into any of the wannabe werewolves, because there are PLENTY of them, and yes, Wolf would definitely hate them.
-Wolf’s random decision to go attack Vlad and/or Victor would seem weird in almost any other story, but given his personality and the tone, it works here.
-The path were Wolf takes the pack of actors for Mary’s movie under his wing to kick Victor’s ass is oddly amusing. It seems that on both this path and the one with his son, he winds up playing the mentor figure role regardless, despite his derision of the concept.
-I like the way the conflict between vampires and vampire hunters has adapted to the modern age, and I like the references to how the cinematic potrayal of vampires has changed a lot over time.
Grammar: All good!
Mastery of Language
Yeah, there’s a bunch of sentence structure issues, this could have used another proofread. It’s not enough to distract from the writing, but enough to be noticed. Some more commas would be nice.
Branching: This game has some of the best branching out there, even better than EndMaster’s other majorly branching work, paradise violated. The player gets to make lots of important decisions.
Obviously the broad nature of this story means the individual plots can’t be as deep or complex as the ones in EndMaster’s longer works. The story doesn’t suffer from this, however, rather it fits the work’s episodic tone.
Player Options/fair choice: Very good, there is generally a clear strategy available for each challenge.
I guess I never gave this game a complete playthrough the first time around, so finding all the new branches while doing this reveiw was a pleasant surprise.
CONCLUSION: A fun and particularly original game, with a unique brand of humor.