The Howler is a free game on Steam by indie developers Antanas Marcelionis and Renė Petrulienė. It’s from 2014 and has a steampunk style that reminds us of Rain Games’ excellent Teslagrad, even if the experience is much different.
In this one, you use gravity, tension, and wind currents to guide a hot air balloon across a bleak industrial region.
Like a Wind, The Howler Gusts Amongst Us
Right, there are also elements of 2008’s Lost Winds here, too, with The Howler’s physics-based focus on momentum.
Plus, dollops of Pilotwings 64 (1996) on the N64 (a game heavily entrenched in flight and guiding yourself around stuff.
The Howler’s design is based on the capital of Lithuania—Vilnius. The architecture you see is picked from the city for special inclusion in the game.
All sounds great. And it looks great! However, the gameplay aspect isn’t exactly overflowing with joy. It’s a slow burner of a title and we expect many gamers would find it tedious going. Many Steam reviews from players reflect that.
However, if you’ve got some perseverance in you then you may well find The Howler a great (if unusual) game. There are many puzzles in this one, with the goal being to drift around the city to drop off various bits of cargo.
It’s a very challenging game and every puzzle can be solved in a variety of ways. You also have to time that around wind currents and that thing called gravity.
You control the balloon with your left mouse button. Then the air currents do the rest. To shift to the right, you let the balloon drift into corresponding air currents.
The fact it’s free is incredible, as you can see straight away the artistic style is very distinctive and to a high standard.
It was, in fact, designed by classically trained painter Renė Petrulienė. It was all drawn by hand, on paper, in that traditional and difficult way (we’ll nod to the brilliant Papetura here, too).
The game also features a voice mode, so you can talk to it by shouting “UP!” or “DOWN!” to get around, but we didn’t try this feature. So, we won’t comment on that!
It’s a short game, too, being free and that. But it’s intriguing enough for a brief play to see what’s going on in that curious landscape. Plus, it’s mildly relaxing to enjoy, too (so long as you don’t choose voice mode, eh?).