What is this game about?
Loup Garou is a game in comic book form, one in which you are a newly-converted werewolf trying to survive and thrive in a hostile world. To navigate through the story, you choose your direction by choosing the next panel to flip to—a system that can take you to some surprising places, especially when combined with Loup Garou's combat system and branching skill tree. There are also plenty of riddles and hidden items to keep it interesting as you navigate through the game.
While I don't want to give away the storyline, I will say that Loup Garou offers a very interesting melding of "on-the-rails" storytelling and freedom to explore. The book starts off as a pretty limited survival story, but turns into a sprawling adventure that allows you to navigate through several different areas of towns, while also progressing through an interesting story that successfully hits its plot points.
How does it play solo?
Loup Garou is geared towards solo play. It's a gamebook, after all!
There are a lot of features that I particularly liked in Loup Garou. It comes with several elements that make it a bit more complex than just a choose-your-own-adventure book, and it requires a bit of bookkeeping—you will need a character sheet and a spinner or die for combat. (I preferred to use a die.) It's definitely portable. While you could probably blast through most of this game in an afternoon, I carried this book around in my bag for a long time while I was working through it. (If you play it the way I did, I highly recommend taking some notes so you can remember what is going on from session to session.)
These minor complexities do not, however, get in the way of you diving in and starting the fun right away. Loup Garou will gradually teach you what you need to know, when you need to know it, and I really appreciated that. Although you start by just going from panel to panel, before long you are tracking gold, items, experience, and your progress on the skill tree. I was happy to see the skill tree—I love those (although I agonize over what to choose), and in this case it added some interest and replayability beyond the storyline.
Speaking of the storyline, I was also really impressed by the way that various pathways looped and led it some different directions, but still converged in ways that hit the right story beats without me feeling totally railroaded into them. There is a fine line between freedom to roam and preservation of the story in a gamebook, and I think that Loup Garou does a good job with that. I won't say too much, but things get pretty epic by the end.
There are a few irritations, however, that distracted me while playing Loup Garou. While the game informs you that it is possible to pick up items if you are watching the panels carefully and spot hidden ones, it is not always apparent which items are available to pick up and take with you. Some of the pictures are also a little bit unclear—if you find a key, is it a particular special key you were looking for? Additionally, there are a few inconsistencies in the plot of the story that made me scratch my head a bit. However, for what it is, I think Loup Garou is really impressive, and I would definitely try another experience like it.
Do I recommend it?
If you like gamebooks, yes. Loup Garou has an engaging storyline and enough "game" to it to make it feel like something more than being on the rails. It's not perfect, but it's ambitious and fun.
Overall Rating: 3.5 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.