February 11, 2021 — The latest in the World of Darkness series, Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Earthblood tells the story of werewolf Cahal, and the struggle of his tribe against evil militarized oil corporation, Endron.
Developed by Cyanide and published by Nacon, the game features various missions aimed at ending the threat of Endron, and removing their influence from the Werewolves’ territory. Sadly the game struggles to live up to its potential and falls short of what could have been.
Barking at the Moon
As well as his human form, Cahal can shapeshift into a wolf for stealth and a werewolf for combat. Each has its own unique abilities and uses, with the human form utilizing a crossbow for stealth takedowns, for example. Despite the variation in styles being a clearly appetizing proposition, there are two main problems here. The first being just how repetitive the game feels. With missions boiling down to the navigation of mostly identical narrow corridors ending in an open section for combat. This formula is repeated ad nauseam. With the addition of the occasional boss fight, hacking computer terminals to turn off cameras, turrets, and open doors doing little to alleviate this.
The second problem is AI. While in a combat area, the player has two choices, go in all guns blazing as the werewolf, or attempt to take out guards using the stealthier approach, like the wolf. Attempt being the operative word here, as the AI makes it virtually impossible to accomplish this task. With guards spotting you across the room when firmly behind cover, and often alerting the others instantly. Poor level design impedes this further. As does an overly sensitive aim mechanic for the crossbow, making stealth a difficult and time-consuming option.
“Extremely dated animations and textures are quite distracting at times. The game also tries to implement way too many elements. Most of which do not fit too well with the rest of the game.”
It is far more satisfying to approach a section using combat, which is clearly the game’s strongest element. Light and heavy combos are the order of the day here, with two available stances providing some variation in approach. Cahal feels distinctly overpowered at times, bringing to mind action brawlers of old, such as Prototype and various Hulk games. The game is clearly attempting to rekindle some nostalgia here, and to some extent succeeds. It is again hampered by repetitiveness, however, and the waves of enemies per encounter rarely offer variation, certainly not until more enemy types are introduced at around the halfway point.
A Matter of Lycans and Death
Extremely dated animations and textures are quite distracting at times. Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood also tries to implement way too many elements. Most of which do not fit too well with the rest of the game. A limited skill tree feels unnecessary, with many of the upgrades being better suited to flesh out the gameplay from the beginning. There are only a handful of side quests in the game too, adding very little to the overall experience. Player choice is also a feature of the game, with optional dialogue throughout and the choice of two endings. Unfortunately, both are done rather poorly here.
With dialog options being too limiting, the ending feels especially underwhelming, removing any meaningful player agency. There are a few times throughout the story, however, where optional dialogue is more engaging. Interrogations crop up occasionally, with the ability to choose how to approach the conversation and extract the information Cahal needs. The ability at all times to become the werewolf and use violence, alongside a choice of dialogue, provides an added layer of depth. This is a rare glimpse at a much better game since repercussions for the players’ decisions are only surface level.
Out of 10
- Wolfey mood for those who enjoy barking at the moon.
- Repetitive gameplay.
- Outdated graphics.
- Performance issues.
Overall, Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is, unfortunately, a deeply flawed experience. With a repetitiveness that hampers enjoyment, frustrating level design, and flawed AI, the game is disappointing. Although showing promise with its shapeshifting mechanic and engaging combat, there are too many drawbacks, and it ultimately has been poorly executed. There are seeds here that could grow into something greater, however, and developer Cyanide will surely be able to improve on this for their next game.