Wolf is a very cleverly made animal simulation. When I first played it, I was impressed with the amount of effort the designers had put into the game to make every aspect interesting. The premise is quite simple: You are a wolf, part of a pack. In normal simulation mode, your only goal is to hunt animals for food, avoid humans and interact with other wolves. This wolf interaction will ultimately lead to mating, which is very difficult to achieve.
When you first enter the game, you are met by a screen with several options. You may start a free simulation, in which you can adjust all the aspects of your habitat, from the length of the simulation to the number of humans in the area and the type of land you will roam. It is all quite overwhelming, but after a few minutes you'll get the hang of it. After you specify your main controls, you choose a wolf. You can be a loner or part of a pack. All the wolves have different ages and strengths, and you should choose wisely for the type of game you want to play.
The other option on the start screen is to choose a scenario. There are about twenty or so, ranging from finding a lost cub in the tundra to killing a large moose in the forest within a day.
After you have specified everything, you begin the game. The controls are a bit difficult to master: You drag your mouse across the screen to guide your wolf and its pack (if you have one). You can use various keys to activate the wolf’s senses (smell, hearing, etc.), which help you to tell what types of animals and features are in the area, and can warn you of potential hazards coming your way. You may also have confrontations with other wolves. You can have simple “dominance fights” with other wolves and “mating ritual” interactions with opposite-sex wolves.
The only real predators you have to face as a wolf are humans. Most carry guns. When you are confronted with a human with a gun, there is pretty much no escape. However, if you use the wolf’s senses well enough, you can avoid such confrontations, which usually end in a messy death.
As far as graphics go, the game is quite good for 1994. The colors are vibrant and the animations complex and smooth. The music tracks also deserve to be mentioned. The tunes are haunting and mysterious, just like the animals the game is based on. They have a wilderness-like quality to them which makes Wolf’s soundtrack the most creative I’ve ever heard. Like all game soundtracks, however, it can get repetitive after a while.
As a whole, I give Wolf a rating of 5 because of its uniqueness and its attention to detail. The learning curve is moderate to steep, depending on the quickness of the player. If you like wolves and you like games where learning is the goal, not shooting everything in sight, then Wolf is for you.
If you don’t have a lot of time to devote to it, you will probably find it dull. But as simulators go, Wolf is very good. I recommend it to all people who like games like SimAnt, SimIsle and SimCity, where it is not possible to win per se and the game was primarily made simply to observe and have fun.
You should watch the demo closely the first time you play, as it is actually a tutorial for the game.
the mouse is a bit difficult to use (kind of choppy) for people like me with Windows XP (not meant to rhyme); I don’t know about people with other systems. This game needs DOSBox to run.