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Turn-based strategy game Howl, aka Into The Breach as an illuminated manuscript, is out now

Lion Song developers unleash a work of "living ink"

A grid-based parchment-style map in tactics game Howl, showing the player character moving through a wood to confront a scribbly wolfish creature
Image credit: astragon Entertainment

If you happen to be a medieval monk illustrator trapped in the body of a modern videogames enthusiast, you might like Howl, a turn-based strategy game from Lion Song and Flower Collectors studio Mi'pu'mi Games. It’s powered by what the developers are calling “living ink”, an art style that fills in each papery map as you play.

The game certainly looks arresting: your cursor is a quill, the HUD is a collection of smaller parchment scraps, and the terrain is a slowly brightening wash of swirling colours, leaking beyond the outlines of trees and buildings. Lovely stuff. And what's more, you get to beat up a bunch of wolves.

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Howl consists of 60 levels spanning four chapters, and is the story of a deaf heroine with oracular abilities trying to find a cure for a “howling plague” that transforms all who hear it into ravenous beasts. Back in January, Katharine described it as a mixture of Pendragon and Into The Breach, with challenging but "digestible" puzzlebox scenarios.

You can plan up to six moves in advance, and the idea is naturally to anticipate enemy movements and catch them out, perhaps by shoving them into a pit as they scurry past it, or tricking one into blocking another. There’s also a “Prophecy” system whereby completing a map in a certain number of moves earns you Confidence points to spend on special abilities.

The virtuoso art direction (which reminds me a little of the amazing Chicory) isn’t just for show. It reflects the premise of fulfilling prophecies, with areas and stories starting out as wet ink and drying out in the course of finishing a level.

Howl is on sale now. I haven't had a chance to play, but I think this looks good? There’s a demo on Steam, if you’re interested.

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