Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood Reivew – A Silver Bullet To The Heart

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A scan of my immediate surroundings reveals six heavily armed soldiers, two guns with silver bullets. Behind these dying guards is a mech threateningly pumping a flamethrower, clearly seeking to enlighten me. I can quietly break each of their necks in my human form, but another look at the area highlights a vent leading to a security desk. I can transform into my wolf form to rush into this space to turn off the security cameras, which would open a less guarded path. I would still be dealing with this mech. Perhaps the best game is to ditch stealth altogether, reveal my location, and transform into a werewolf who will quickly paint the walls red with their blood. I just hope I have enough rage left to take this nasty mech down.

Drawing inspiration from the rich tradition of World of Darkness table games, Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood follows a seasoned hunter named Cahal who can change shape at any time. It’s an exciting proposition that unfortunately cannot escape the overwhelming weight of repetition that plagues every battle and scenario. The lycanthopic action is extremely violent, and the fun can come from tearing enemies apart as if they were made of paper or throwing them at their cohorts as if they were a bowling ball. This fantasy doesn’t last long, and the uninteresting story and upgrade trees can’t save it in any way. It’s an experience that doesn’t have much of a bite in anything it attempts, wasting what could have been a cool approach to a stealth game.

Another question that this game doesn’t answer is the one that hangs over every encounter: Since the werewolf form is the most fun, why shouldn’t players use it all the time? Developer Cyanide tries to push stealth through story setups and with missions starting with Cahal in cover, but the player can become a werewolf whenever they want. All they have to do is press a button to immediately transform or be spotted by an enemy, then the sluggishness and doldrums of the repetition give way to enemy screams and a running wolf. like a maniac.

When the werewolf is in play, battles can be finished quickly. Razor sharp claws and teeth are put to good use in attacking enemies. The werewolf’s form controls well, but lacks semblance of precision. He can also change his fighting stance to be on all fours for quick attacks or stand on his hind legs to deal more damage with huge claw strikes. Certain types of enemies require you to use a particular position, which can be annoying when they clutter you up, but that’s pretty much the scope of strategy. You just have to hack, howl to heal, and most battles are fought in the blink of an eye. Mechs have some issues because they have huge health bars, but they are easily mined.

So what’s the benefit of being a human or ordinary wolf? Almost none. Wolf Form allows you to reach rooms that contain computer terminals, books that offer additional story beats, or spirit points that can unlock new skills (which don’t really change the flow of the game at all. ). The human can break his neck and shoot an arc gun to extinguish the lights. It is more or less that. Again, the controls are not a problem at all. Both of these forms work well, but just lack the fun. Sitting down and watching the guards move mechanically along the paths is as boring as it sounds, and there’s no way to spice things up. I tried to see the fun in stealth, but the monotony of it always made me turn into a werewolf to end a streak with the hope that the next combat encounter would be better. It never has been.

The repetition also extends to level designs, which mostly use the same textures and industrial objects from room to room. Cyanide injects some variety into the environments towards the end of the game, which is a welcome change, but the damage is well done before that. Most of the steps give the impression fuzzy area episodes through the same doors over and over again.

Cahal is well written and voiced, but I never once cared about his attempt at redemption or saving his tribe’s forest from fracking to death. The entire experience falls flat and never quite embraces the complexity of the shape shift. The idea ends up being a mess that causes players to just bar their fangs and get through it all as quickly as possible.


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