Having picked this up for just a couple dollars during a Steam sale I can honestly say I am not sure if I've ever received this much enjoyment for so little money.
I had spotted the game on Greenlight many months ago and was intrigued by the novel and clever premise for a hybrid strategy/tactics/action. Even then at the 15 dollar mark I was strongly considering the purchase if the game turned out to be good fun. Sadly, the game flew in under my radar on release and I forgot all about it until I noticed it at the top of the User Review list on the Steam sales page.
You play as one of two brothers living in the woods on the outskirts of Wolvesdale, somewhere in Canada. The winters are harsh here and the prowling wolves even harsher. Lil' Jos, the burly big brother is more than capable of whopping wolves with his axe, shooting them with his musket, and setting traps. The other Brother, Jack, is a more frail sort and you will have to lean heavily on your ingenuity with traps to succeed with Jack as your choice.
At the start of the game you are first introduced to Jack and soon thereafter, Jos and their sister Josephine. Josephine has come down with a fever after a travesty at the local church parish involving the pastor. I won't spoil the story for you, as it does a fine job of effortlessly tossing the Christian and pagan at you without being heavy handed, offensive or overtly absurd. Christian motifs figure prominently in the story as well as pagan and Native American belief. The characters are well done and push the story along quite well.
Josephine begins to prophecy foreboding events and the two brothers resolve to get her to town for medical treatment. After the nearby bridge has mysteriously burned down, events begin to domino toward ever more sinister happenings. You'll face two varieties of wolves, 2 varieties of werewolves, and a handful of other mythical creatures such as the Amerindian 'Maikan" which amounts to their verison of the werewolf myth, as well as Will-o-Wisps and the like. The Devil plays a major role and is puppetering the corrupted pastor and townsfolk to play out his wicked game in an attempt to destroy the townsfolk, the brothers and their sister. The writing is solid and the voice acting is competent. I'm enjoying the cutscenes story unfold into the missions you are tasked with.
The main game consists of a pre-game tactical strategy map where you purchase and place any number of devious traps to incapacitate and dispose of the hellish fiends. The game has a good learning curve and introduces you to the myriad devices slowly; as it should. This aspect of the game is very reminiscient of the Bullfrog Dungeon Master games of years gone by. Great fun is to be had plotting your tactics to deal with the many waves of enemies that are tasked with destroying your assorted buildings. To write of the many traps and how to use them would amount to a miniature FAQ and so I will leave that to you to research. To say the developers gave you a treasure trove of gadgets is putting it mildly.
At the beginning of each match you are also able to use the money you acquire from defeating the creatures to purchase better weapons, ammo and gear. A coventry nearby can bless your bullets or axes, respectively, so as to deal greater damage to the diabloical creatures. The general store sells an ever increasing number of muskets that have authentic descriptions of their real world counterparts with some very nifty trivia thrown in. You also can purchase new gear and ammo. And the hotel furnishes you with an assortment of liquors that have varying effects on your character in battle.
During the match proper, you will be scurrying as your very life does depend on it. Following the routes you planned during the pre-game phase you will have to be front and center for certain traps to be effective. The deadly net trap requires you to shoot the net and drop it on the creatures below. If you have a bait present under the net you simply take your time and fire. Otherwise, you'll have to get crafty and 'shout' for your enemy to come inspect the area. Bonfires help buff the 'fear factor' that keeps the creatures at a distance as they prowl slowly around you looking to strike. During this time you can reload your musket and go for the headshot without worrying about being ripped to shreds. Fire walls can be strategically placed to alter the route of your enemy. Watchtowers with ziplines to other parts of the map are a lifesaver when you need to 'be there' quickly to prevent destruction of your precious buildings. This is only a smattering of the many traps available. Nevermind all the possibilities on how to use them in conjunction with each other.
And I haven't even touched on the player levels. Much like an RPG, you earn experience points that allow you to upgrade many traits. Typical character buffs like more health, stamina, and the like as well as quicker reloading and stronger traps are available. But there are also quite a few unique buffs such as poisoned bait that damages the devouring creature or increasing the damage done as a 'sniper' if you should decide to try for a shot from one of your watchtowers.
I could go on and on about all the neat features of this game with impunity. The game is well balanced and is a blast to play once you grasp the game mechanics. Most of the game elements will feel familiar to the hobby gamer. But by combining them in such a manner requires an enjoying pause for thought that many modern games no longer ask of you. To have my intelligence and keyboard savvy so tested has been a real treat. The art style is charming and the music very well done. Artifice Studio is officially on my list of promising developers to watch.
I cannot recommend this game strongly enough. Especially for the money. A MUST BUY!