From the creative minds over at Cyanide Studio and Nacon comes Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, Werewolf: The Apocaylpse is a part of the expanded World of Darkness universe which also features the arguably more famous Vampire: The Masquerade.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood follows the tale of eco-terrorist Cahal, a Fianna garou (werewolf) warrior.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood kicks things off with a fairly simple tutorial mission. Players are introduced to the game’s mechanics in a very rough around the edges stealth mission which introduces you to the game’s main characters. The opening mission involves raiding an Endron facility, but things go awry in the process. Cahal succumbs to his inner rage and ends up going into self-imposed exile for five years.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse
Drawing from the Werewolf: The Apocalypse lore, the story establishes the background rather early. Gaia, the Wyld, the Weaver and the Wyrm are central elements that drive the plot forward. Gaia being the planet Earth, the Wyld being nature itself, the Weaver being “order” and the Wyrm being chaos or destruction. It’s all very apocalyptic and there’s a lot of talk about the world’s ultimate demise at the hands of corporations such as Endron.
The introductory mission teaches you how to swap between human and wolf forms and also lets you transform into a Crinos.
The Crinos is what one would consider a more traditional werewolf form and it is every bit as powerful as you can imagine. The introductory mission sets up the story but feels extremely jarring when the next mission takes place five years into the future and characters don’t really seem to be all that phased about what just happened. This may however be due to the game’s voice acting falling flat and seemingly being inconsistent or emotionless at times.
Nevertheless, five years have passed since a terrible event occurred and our protagonist Cahal is back in the spotlight once more. Taking on the role of Cahal, players will approach missions that use a tried and trusted formula of stealth and action throughout. Players will use their human or wolf forms to sneak around facilities, pick off guards, activate keypads and disable security cameras.
Eventually you’ll face off against waves of enemies. It’s fairly straightforward and it works. What does not work however is the fact that you cannot be completely stealthy in levels. There are some enemies which need to be engaged in werewolf form so even if you manage to pick off everyone else with silent takedowns, all of that hard work feels like it was thrown out the window when you’re forced into combat anyway.
In human form players will have access to a crossbow with a limited number of bolts. These bolts can silently take down enemies from a considerable range and you’ll eventually be able to upgrade your character to carry more bolts. The character upgrade tree features plenty of useful abilities to invest in with Spirit Points.
Spirit Points are earned by completing missions or by activating Cahal’s “Penumbra Vision” and interacting with spirit items hidden in the world. Penumbra Vision also highlights all nearby enemies and turns the screen a crimson red. Interactable items such as keypads are highlighted too and this is incredibly useful when infiltrating enemy bases in levels.
The combat in Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is where the game redeems itself from its rather unpolished other aspects. Playing as the Crinos is incredibly fun purely because it feels powerful. The Crinos form can be swapped between agility and strength stances which affect the combos you can pull off.
Button bashing your way to victory is entirely possible but if you string together combos and make use of the Crinos’ stances, dive attacks, healing and roars, fighting off waves of enemies is quite satisfying.
Cahal can also enter a “Frenzy” mode in Crinos form which increases his power even further. If you’ve played Devil May Cry before, think of it as entering your demon form. Just far more werewolf-like in this game.
Upon completing missions, you’ll return to a hub area where you can interact with NPCs and find notes to read which further explain story details. You can also take on very simple side quests such as finding spirits. The hub areas are not that big and exploring them won’t take you too long.
These areas serve as distractionary downtime to break up the stealth and action and we wish that more could have been done with them to maybe further flesh out the story and make the game less linear.
Graphically, Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is rather lacklustre. Cahal himself looks incredibly detailed but everyone else looks rather plain. It’s quite jarring to see this in-game and the lack of polish in the NPCs is unsettling.
Thankfully, the wolf and werewolf forms do look great. Environments, however, aren’t all that detailed and you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a title from a few years ago instead of 2021. It should also be noted that this game throws tonnes of blood around though no actual dismemberment takes place in battles.
The soundtrack of Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood features a Maori metal track on the title screen which is a rather interesting choice considering that the game is completely set in North America. The voice acting featured throughout the entire game feels strange with characters not really being convincing, but at the same time having stereotypical over the top accents.
Overall, Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is a rough around the edges product. There’s plenty of content in the game to keep you entertained for around 10 hours or so depending on your playstyle and there’s a lot of tried and trusted gameplay mechanics which just work.
It ultimately suffers from being unpolished and coming across as a lacklustre, seemingly rushed job. We can’t help but think that if this game was given more time in development to refine some of its gameplay and story, it would have excelled. Instead, what we have here is an average-ish title.
Only pick this is up if it’s deeply discounted or you absolutely must have a button basher title right now.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood is a rough around the edges product. Only pick this is up if it’s deeply discounted or you absolutely must have a button basher title right now.