Werewolf – The Apocalypse: Earthblood – Comfort Food Gaming
Xbox One/Series, PS4/5, PC
Long have I lamented the disappearance of the 10-12 hour AA action game. The type of game that you popped in after hiring it from Video Ezy and finished it over a weekend, enjoying every second of it but satisfied to never play it again. This type of game was once a common sight, the equivalent of a Sunday afternoon action movie, but sadly they began to disappear as budgets got bigger and publishers seemed to focus on the big blockbusters and not the smaller, niche products. So when I installed Werewolf – The Apocalypse: Earthblood on my Series X and immediately realised that it was a throwback to that old style of AA gaming, well I couldn’t stop smiling.
Set in the World of Darkness universe (the same universe that Vampire: The Masquerade is from) Earthblood focuses on the story of Cahal, a Werewolf who leaves his pack after giving in to his rage and killing one of his brethren. After an initial setup mission, the game takes place five years after this event as Cahal returns to his pack and continues their work to undermine a massive corporation that has fallen under the influence of the spirit of destruction (one of the three spirits that control earth.) Thanks to human influence, the spirit of destruction (or the Wyrm as it is referred to more often than not) has grown in power so it is no longer in balance with the other two controlling spirits. Therefore Cahal and his pack see it as their mission as protectors of the earth to engage in some eco-terrorism, with the goal of bringing this corporate entity to its knees. It is all very “Captain Planet” in feel, just infinitely more violent and it makes for a wonderful backdrop to the in-game action.
Speaking of in-game action, the entire game is set up around the premise of being a werewolf. Cahal has the ability to change between three forms at will. In his human form, he is able to stealth kill enemies, use tech and interact with NPC characters. In his wolf form, his stealth and senses are improved and he is able to traverse tight spaces and move at greater speed. His final form, a werewolf, is used when it is time to tear enemies limb from limb. As a result of this three form system, the game is essentially broken up into two types of gameplay, during stealth sections, much of the time your goal is to sneak around destroying doors, picking off enemies and taking out turrets so when the inevitable happens and the shit hits the fan, you have a much easier time killing the rest of the reinforcements as a Werewolf. It isn’t complicated by any means and the stealth is a little basic, but it is satisfying without ever wearing out its welcome. Each mission is connected by a couple of hub worlds which can be explored and have a few side quests to take on if you so desire.
Combat as the Werewolf is split between two stances, one for power and one for agility. The agile stance is perfect for taking out a room full of enemies, dashing and leaping between each foe with bloody abandon. The power stance comes into its own against big mechs and during boss battles as it can take more damage and hit with greater force. Each of these stances (along with other stealth related skills) can be upgraded using some light RPG mechanics as the game goes on, eventually giving Cahal a vicious array of death-dealing skills to unleash on those nasty polluters. Special mention has to be made of the boss battles too. In this sort of game, boss battles have a habit of being unsatisfying and often rely on cheesy tactics to beat so I am pleased to say that every boss battle in Earthblood was both satisfying and challenging. The final boss was an especially fun battle and left me with a feeling of contentment, happy with my time spent and basking in the warm glow of victory.
Graphically the game is solid but not outstanding. As I said in the opening paragraph this is AA gaming and as a result, it clearly doesn’t have the money to spend on presentation aspects that other games do. That being said, it is never ugly and it was almost completely bug and glitch-free, something that even the biggest, most expensive titles can’t say. It is clear the developers made smart choices regarding resources, allocating them to the areas that make the game smoother and more enjoyable as opposed to making it the prettiest looking title out there. Gameplay beats graphics every time in my book and I am glad that the dev team behind Werewolf also followed that reasoning.
If there is one thing that lets Earthblood down it is that there is simply nothing more to do once the game has been completed, no hook to drag gamers back in for another go-round. There is no new game +, which would have been a perfect reason to tackle higher difficulties and considering the game ends with a binary choice, give players a chance to see the alternative ending. In this day and age and considering the length of the title, it seems like something that should be there. Hopefully, the developers can patch it in at a later date because the game only runs for 12 or so hours so I am sure it will be welcomed.
Werewolf – The Apocalypse: Earthlood is really a big bowl of nourishing comfort food. It won’t be remembered as a fine dining meal, but just another satisfying feed in your gaming meal plan and honestly that is fantastic. There is room in gaming for this sort of title, a title that players can fire up, have a blast and then forget in a few weeks time. In fact, I wish there were more of them, they act as satisfying palette cleansers between the huge feasts offered by so many massive open-world AAA games. With all of this in mind, it is easy to recommend Earthblood to action fans everywhere. It is a well put together blast of action that leaves you satisfied from start to finish and while it won’t stay with you for long, it will thoroughly entertain while it does.
Werewolf – The Apocalypse: Earthblood was reviewed on the Xbox Series X with code kindly supplied by Home Run PR