Scott Watson reviews Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood…
White Wolf Publishing’s World of Darkness series has a rich and varied history and lore, a solid base from which to create an engaging world and game. We’ve seen this already with the likes of Vampire: The Masquerade and its action RPG styles. The series, however, isn’t all about those fanged creatures of the night. In Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood, dev team Cyanide have given our furry lycanthrope friends centre stage, in a cautionary tale about the demands and abuse we place on our planet and those willing to save it.
With such an interesting point of view and topic for the game to cover, it’s such a shame the story hits beats and tropes that we’ve seen so many times before in so many videogames. Cahal, our bald, muscle-bound, tattooed, gruff voiced, hero is like so many we’ve seen before. An outcast from his clan, thanks to a doomed mission that sees his wife killed, he returns just in time to save the day, save the clan, make amends with his estranged daughter, and of course manage to control and overcome the power of his inner wolf.
The crux of the story is driven through Cahal’s need to avenge his wife’s death, and take down the Pentex corporation as they pollute and destroy the environment.
The game takes us on this journey via a third person perspective action RPG, along the lines of God of War and its like. The hook, and main focus of making your way throughout the game and its areas, is Cahal’s ability to transform into not one, but two different wolven forms, each with their own specialities and uses. You’ll be in human form the most when making your way around the hub areas, talking to other members of your tribe, interacting with computers, doors, and with limited combat abilities using a crossbow. Beyond that, the two wolven forms have very distinct and separate functions. Shapeshifting into a wolf allows you to move stealthily through the levels, avoiding detection while also squeezing through narrow vents. The wolf form also provides you the ability to sense your enemies in other rooms to help you plan your way through them.
Invariably though, it feels like the game pushes you into a scenario where you have to transform into your final, and most deadly form. Going full-blown werewolf, or Garou, as they’re known by in World of Darkness, is very satisfying, and it’s here the action RPG element comes to the fore. Towering above your enemies, in Garou form you have three attack modes at your disposal, two of which you can switch between at will. Lighter enemies can be taken down by your more agile stance, while heavies such as mechs, shield bearing troops, and mutated soldiers, need the heavier, slower moving stance. The combat is good fun, but can be a bit of a button-mashing exercise, with light, medium, and heavy attacks all available, alongside modified special attacks you unlock over the course of the game through expansion of your skill-trees. Keep up your combos, or find yourself overcome by enemies, and the final full blown rage-state of your Garou can be activated for a limited time, bulking you up even more, and allowing you to produce a lot more damage.
The combat is simple, but as the game goes on, part of you actually looks forward to being spotted so you get to unleash your full fury on a room full of enemies and take them all down in visceral fashion. It’s very enjoyable, but like the storyline, it does start to get very similar the more you progress through the game. You find yourself going through a process of human form, open the doors, activate the computers, turn into a wolf, scan the room, take down as many silently as you can, get spotted, go full Garou, clear the room, then on to the next one. It wears a bit thin, even interjected with the boss battles and returns to the hub areas.
Beyond the gameplay mechanics, graphically, the game feels somewhat unfinished too. Cahal’s character model looks head and shoulders better than many of the other in-game characters too, and the environments at times. It feels like so much focus was put into how he looks and how he transforms into his wolven forms that everything else surrounding him was given a cursory glance. It’s a shame too, as it removes you a lot from the mythos and backstory surrounding the game world. It feels like someone picked Cahal up from the current-gen and dropped him into an older scaled down environment.
Yet, all things said and done, there are elements of enjoyment to be had. Fighting in Garou form is fun while it lasts, and the stealth elements can be quite satisfying when you managed to pull them off. It’s just a shame that the game is all a bit one-tone from start to finish.
+ Combat is frantic and fun as a werewolf
+ Stealth elements can be satisfying
– Story is really underwhelming considering the richness of content
– Character models and environments are lacking creativity
– Combat feels repetitive towards the end of the game
Rating – 7/10