Torn between instinct and common sense.
Being one of the first Visual Novels I ever played; it is really nice to see that even by my modern standards How to Raise a Wolf Girl keeps itself on the favorably higher quality side of things. A refreshing example of how a well-done romance drama could look like, at the cost of however only being a linear 10h journey.
Graphical & Technical Quality
One sticks out from the rest.
How to Raise a Wolf Girl is a higher tier Visual Novel featuring both a clean, detailed art style with high quality artwork and a solid engine foundation. Running on the KiriKiri engine this gives us a well-known set of default features like 90 individual save slots, auto and skip mode with behaviour customization, menu voices and other highly customizable stuff and a hidden "advanced settings" menu for more in-depth performance tweaking - though it already runs smooth as is.
Alongside these basics there are a few more unique additions, like the option to jump back and forth between the dialogue choices and a "quick settings menu" to quickly adjust the most useful settings on the go without the need to search through the full menu.
There also is a set of intuitive keyboard hotkeys available.
Graphically, How to Raise a Wolf Girl scores with a simple 720p resolution but - yes, I honestly do consider this a noteworthy feature amongst all the other VNs I know - gimmicks like having character sprites showing their back in order to give the scene a livelier feel, opposite to the characters just blankly staring into "the camera" all the time. This is furthermore accompanied by a vast set of smaller animations/movement effects and cubic sprite placement, making it really seem like they are right there in the scene.
The character sprites themselves are animated as far as blinking eyes and moving ears go, though sadly no mouth movement.
And the translation is above average, trying to keep the best of both worlds with only the normal handful of smaller typos.
Content & Runtime
A dance of fun and feels.
Shuuji Kousaka is living a quiet and peaceful life in the remote mountain village, alongside his little sister and grandfather - the only family he has. Aside from dodging the murderous rage of his not-officially-girlfriend Kana's father, who is strictly against the relationship of the two, nothing much ever happens here in the middle of nowhere.
That is, however, until one day when Shuuji and Kana make a shocking find up in the mountain forest: Caught in one of the hunters' life traps setups along the hiking path they find a girl; Wrapped in primitive fur clothing, looking worse herself still and fitted with a pair of fluffy wolf ears and accommodating a fluffy wolf tail. Despite the unbelievability of this scene, Shuuji, driven by a sudden protective urge upon seeing this poor girl, decides against his better judgement and takes her in.
Things become even more complicated though as the girl who so far only managed to make strange, animalistic noises, devoid of human speech, manages to tell them her name: Iroha Sakuraba. The very same girl that went missing in this very forest 10 years ago. And while this is already shocking enough, there is one more person that was involved in this incident - one that might not take the news of her sudden return, let alone transformation as well as the rest...
And so, trying his best to both bring Iroha back into human society while keeping her safe from same society that is scared of the unknown, while also fixing the errors of the past, his struggle between instinct and common sense begins.
How to Raise a Wolf Girl is a ~50/50 mix of both lighthearted RomCom and deeply serious (romance) drama. The story manages to fully switch between "laughs and giggles" to "feelz" and the other way 'round within a single scene.
Even though the chapters have fancy cut-ins to announce them, the story is divided into only two of them - plus Prologue and Epilogue that is.
The character cast is distinct and well developed, except for a few comedic tropes, to the point where the player's forced position in-between the chairs can actually hurt because you can't decide who the true "waifu" is gonna be. (And no, this isn't a mere "who's cuter" competition.) Even the male protagonist is a cut above the average dense harem king and hence a fair bit less annoying.
The story features a hand full of pseudo-decisions that mostly only alter the immediately following dialogue and is otherwise a completely linear story, hence capping at slightly over 10h of gametime (not rush-skipping). Though there is some actual meaning going on with the decisions, since you can - in some not serious/meaningful way - "choose" one out of the two available heroines. Some peace of mind (or headache, depends) for those not happy with the story's forced semi-harem setting.
The gallery is unlocked after clearing the game, where you can re-enjoy the game's 25 CGs, 19 OSTs, as well as opening movie and "scenes".
The R18 Content
A choice harder than it should be.
There is a total of 5 H-Scenes to enjoy with the same quality as the rest of the game. The voice acting is good and there are no accompanying sound effects (you know, those weird "break bones" or "mix cement" sounds) except for fitting background moaning, though there are no animations and no choices either, and there is mosaic censorship.
Also, as I mentioned before, all but one H-Scenes are optional, based on your dialogue decisions. What reason there is to get the R18 Patch just to skip all the H-Scenes? I dunno, but at least you can somewhat choose your waifu even though the story is completely linear and forces you into a triangle-harem.
Except for (can I even call this a fetish?) a more serious take on the "you know you can get pregnant from this, right?" topic and an unnecessary, forced peeing-fetish-close-call the game is completely vanilla.
When it comes to the depiction of bodily fluids and the inhuman stamina of the actors it too is more on the somewhat milder side, though still casual hentai.
And, your friend the "panic button" is here to save your day.
Is this game worth it?
As I stated with e.g. NekoPara, Wolf Girl is a rather expensive VN compared to multi route titles offering way more than 10h for not that much more.
Though if you don't have or don't want to have one of those on your to-buy-list right now, How to Raise a Wolf Girl certainly is a great Visual Novel you can try out. And don't forget, the next sale is always right around the corner anyway.