Synopsis: Moving far away from civilization, you hoped to live a life of solitude in a snowy cabin. Just as you begin to adapt to your peaceful new life, you discover an intruder; a wolf-girl, alone and shivering in your storeroom. Fearful for her life, you take the girl in for the night, offering her a place to stay until she recovers.
Once she has recovered, however, the wolf-girl shows no sign of leaving. In fact, she seems quite content to move in.
Soon after, yet another wolf-girl shows up, loudly accusing the “Princess” of running away from her duties to the pack. She wants nothing more than to bring the Princess back home with her and restore order – and despite your best wishes, you’re now stuck in the middle of it.
Firstly, perhaps full disclosure is in order: I love kemonomimi and think it’s a crying shame that we don’t see more of that in yuri. Perhaps we should find a way to get Itou Hachi to make his own visual novel…
Also, I’ll try and keep this review spoiler-free.
Your player character has moved out to the wilderness and has willingly separated themselves from their previous life, friends, and family. They’re quite happy to live in seclusion like a doomsday prepper, minus the nuclear fallout shelter and anti-government rhetoric.
The story takes place in the mountains, probably somewhere in the northern hemisphere. Where this is exactly, is entirely up to you, since it isn’t really important to the story. What is important, however, is that humans coexist with half-humans, with both groups generally not interacting with each other. The ones we are concerned with here are a pair of half-wolf girls named Mirari and Fuyu.
The first wolf-girl you encounter is Mirari, who you discover unconscious and very close to gaining the Steam Achievement “Wolf-girl Popsicle”. She took refuge in your home while you were away. When she wakes, you quickly realize that she is quite clearly running away from something, but won’t yet divulge what it is. Mirari is your prototypical deredere who will spend a week trying recipes for the perfect homemade Valentine’s Day chocolates and attempt to feed you an octopus-shaped bento hotdog by going “Aaaaahn!” (admit it, you made the sound in your head just now).
Fuyu is the second wolf-girl in the game and quite literally barges into your life not long after Mirari does. She gives off the impression that she is Mirari’s butler or bodyguard, and her primary concern is the safe return of Mirari to their wolf pack, as she is next in line to the “throne”. As a result, she is quite hostile towards you, at least at first. She is everything you would expect a wolf to be: proud, fearsome, and protective of their own. Fuyu is therefore a total tsundere and abso-frickin-lutely adorable.
Despite these first impressions, these two wolf-girls aren’t just cookie-cutter characters and have more to them that you’ll have to discover on your own. Because the girls have almost opposing goals, you’ll have to choose one or the other (sorry, no harem endings here). For me, though, the end of the Mirari route wasn’t as satisfactory as I would have liked. It seemed insufficient to address why Mirari ran away to begin with, but that’s just me. Fuyu’s route, on the other hand, I enjoyed immensely. Have I mentioned yet that she’s adorable?
The game starts with an interesting twist from a developer that concentrates mainly on yuri-themed games (these are the guys that were behind Love Ribbon and Starlight Vega): you get to choose to play as a male or female protagonist. You might think this is a simple matter of swapping the pronoun “her” with “him”, but the game actually makes a substantial effort to differentiate between the two. The art, the dialogue, as well as certain scenes have been changed to reflect your choice. Even the endings are slightly different. This means that there are really four good ends, two for each player character gender.
Another plus in my book is that you can name your protagonist. I know this isn’t groundbreaking or terribly difficult to do, but having played some other VNs, it gets really old really quickly being referred to as “Producer-san”, “Chef-kun”, “Manager”, or something similar (then again, this only really happens for voiced VNs). The only downside to this is that the more childish among us will take the opportunity to give their player character some juvenile name…
Okay, scratch that. I just played through the first few minutes of the game with a silly name, and it was hilarious. Yes, I have the mind of an 11-year-old.
Most of the choices you make are light and inconsequential—except when they aren’t. There are one or two that will throw you into a bad end almost immediately, and after having fun making decisions without much forethought, you suddenly sit up and pay attention a little more, or at least I did. You also don’t get the whole story with one playthrough. Small details are revealed when you make different choices for each route, which is a good incentive (albeit not a big one) for multiple playthroughs.
Another plus that isn’t addressed often enough is that this game is built on the ever reliable Ren’Py engine, which means you should be able to play this game on multiple platforms and operating systems, be it Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, or even Android (though I’ve only ever tried Ren’Py on Windows and MacOS).
The art is what first got me to take a look at this title as I was browsing through Lena’s tweets a few days ago. Kemonomimi? In a new yuri VN? It’s on sale? Yes, please! The watercolor-like backgrounds really set the mood and are quite well done. Character art is no less beautiful and blends together well with the background. This is particularly important to me, that the art feels like a homogeneous entity. It is particularly difficult for me to watch a badly done blue screen effect. If you have seen the first season of Initial D, with its late 90s computer-generated cars, you’ll know what I mean.
The developers promote “animated intros” on their website, something called “Movie Effect” in the credits. This means that the normally restricted viewpoint is put on a steady-cam rig operated by a cinematographer who thinks he’s going to get an Oscar nomination for this. I quite liked this effect because it adds a sense of motion to an otherwise static scene.
I would also be remiss not to mention the Wolf Tails 18+ Patch. If you could do without annoying puffs of steam or errant shafts of light, you are going to want this. Installation instructions can be found along with the patch itself in the link above.
The music was quite enjoyable and enhanced the levity or seriousness required in a particular scene. It never felt like it got in the way of the story, and it complimented the mood quite well. I’m actually listening to it now in the background as I write this.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the sound effects. For lack of a better word, they sound too… generic. It’s not a big deal during the lighter, fluffier moments when a character gets a forehead flick, for example. And it does an admirable job of imparting the impending malice of bad weather rolling in, however, when the scene becomes emotionally charged, the last thing you want to hear is the sound effect of a slap that was taken from Adam West’s Batman TV series from the 1960s.
Using the YuriReviews Yuri Rating System (patent pending), because of a mention of a heterosexual pairing in the female protagonist route, full marks cannot be awarded, but nothing is mentioned about decimals, so 8.9 is as close as I can get. As expected from Razzart Visual, the game handles the yuri aspect very well and does not make too much fuss over it. We also get 2 H-scenes per route, and each has two minor variants.
The male protagonist route, on the other hand, fails the yuri rating system miserably and should be sent to the YuriReviews gulag for processing and re-education. It is still fun to play, if only to see the alternate male endings. However, if you’re in it for the yuri, all you get is some skinship between Mirari and Fuyu (that you also get in the female route). Yuri goggles are a must, as these two don’t seem to see each other in that way.
With all that said, I still haven’t addressed Wolf Tails biggest shortfall yet: its short length of between 2 to 6 hours. As I said at the beginning, I just wish there was more yuri kemonomimi action going around, and this is still how I felt once I finished the game. Wolf Tails ends disappointingly quickly, but truthfully, it didn’t bother me all that much. You see, I own a metric ton of VNs, most of them yuri (and the fault of this blog), but I’ve only ever finished a handful of them. Real life gets in the way, and pretty soon, I’ve lost track of the story and need to spend half an hour loading an earlier save to get a refresher on what’s happened so far, and sometimes, I can’t be bothered to do even that. With Wolf Tails, I finished it in one night, half when I got home and half after dinner. It’s nice to get a whole story in without having to get an intravenous espresso drip the next morning.
It also helps that Wolf Tails comes with a price tag under $9.00 USD (depending on where you live). It’s quite a bargain. I paid more to see the recent Marvel Avengers movie, and it is just as long, if not longer. I know that the short playtime may put some of you off of trying this game, but if, like me, you’re a bit too busy to invest a whole Saturday playing a VN, this may be just the game you’re looking for.