I’ve been fortunate enough recently reviewing some high-quality titles. But the one that grabbed my attention was Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood. Developed by Cyanide and published by Nacon, this nature-inspired bloodbath is brutal and enthralling.
Set in a third-person perspective, you control Cahal, a powerful and renowned Garou. He has dedicated his life to aiding Gaia, and will stop at no lengths, and there is nothing he won’t sacrifice to ensure she is protected. It’s an epic Hack ‘n’ Slash/stealth adventure game that holds mysticism as its secret ingredient. Cahal lives in a dangerous world, yet this matters not as he is part man, part beast.
An epic story of loss and redemption!
The plot revolves around Gaia and her protectors. The mystical world she exists in is being destroyed by a Wyrm, it devours everything before it and uses sentinel beings to continue its path of destruction. The oil company Endron is the catalyst for this Wyrm to spread its evil presence across the globe. The only thing standing in its way is the Crinos who serve Gaia. These giant werewolves will lay down their lives to save her.
Cahal’s story is one of loss, sorrow, and exile. His rage got the better of him before, but this time he goes too far. To protect those he loves, he expels himself, leaving behind his family, his friends, his pack! 5 years pass and fate delivers him back home, the Wyrm has grown strong, and the Wyld has weakened. Gaia can only be saved if Cahal aids his old pack and seeks redemption from the ghosts of his past.
Gently, gently, catchy Werewolf.
This is a game that allows for all-out warfare, or silence and stealth. You may choose between 3 forms; human, lupus (wolf) and Crinos (a giant killer Werewolf). Each allows for a different tactical benefit. As a human, you may; interact with technology, sabotage electronics, hack systems, shoot crossbows and take down foes. The lupus slinks stealthily around each area. Crawling through ducts, hunting down its prey undetected. It has an enhanced version of the humans Penumbra Vision (more on that later). Finally, the tank that is the Crinos. Hack ‘n’ Slash destruction and rage awaits. Special powers and takedowns, executions, leaping gaps and pummelling the enemy. He is not graceful or quiet, he’s hellish and destructive.
No one approach can be taken permanently, and each must be used to progress through the story. You will master each and you can attempt to manipulate the scenarios. This will increase or decrease the likelihood of confrontation, but 9 times out of 10 it ends in an almighty brawl. The aforementioned Penumbra Vision is a skill reserved for each Garou. It allows the empowered to observe spirits attached to Gaia and objects of interest during missions. With it, you will see through walls, observing coloured hues that represent; people, electrical goods, spirits or plants. It’s a handy tool, and it becomes your best friend when planning your approach.
Plants, spirits, and skill trees.
Whenever I see a houseplant, my first thought isn’t, Werewolf. However, Cahal must search out certain plants and absorb their spirit force. You’ll also gain it during battles and when successful on a mission. Spirit force is Earthblood’s version of XP. Gain enough, and you will be awarded points to spend on skills to improve your abilities. Side quests can also be completed rewarding you with special prizes and increases to traits. The extra quests added longevity and depth to the character. It ensured that you searched the environment and prevented you from rushing through the main story. I particularly enjoyed how it reiterated the pack’s desire to protect the Wyld, and their love and loyalty to Gaia.
Without these extra goals, the gameplay could be accused of being linear and repetitive. Most of the missions follow a similar pattern, and if there were no break away from it, you may find the action tedious. The variety in gameplay approach and the tweaks in the focus of each task should be enough to keep you happy throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed infiltrating areas as a lupus, biding my time before I went Werewolf Hulk on their ass.
Mostly stunning, but off in places.
The power of the Series X is amazing, and because of it, we’re seeing some amazing looking games already. Earthblood is no exception. Mostly it is stunning to look at. Character models are great and detailed, the cinematic could be confused for real life, the environments are vibrant and alive, and all the action is smooth with no stuttering. Yet, there were some minor issues. Lip syncing was off, and the mouths appeared like they were making a ventriloquist doll speak. The other issue surrounded the Penumbra Vision. Its use of a red glaze made everything look dated and cheap. I understand what Cyanide tried to achieve, but it missed the mark.
An ear-splitting cacophony awaits you once the battles begin. Bullets thud, and heads pop as fists start flying. Furniture scrapes and crashes as it explodes. The sound effects create a superb and exciting experience. The voice-over work is excellent, well delivered and adds life to each character. The music is well chosen and compliments the rest of the audio. The presentation across both elements is of a high level and works brilliantly with the theme.
Because of the 3 approach methods, there are a lot of tiny cogs driving the main engine. All these little bits have their button layout to learn and master. Though it’s complex, it isn’t complicated thanks to a well laid out UI that helps to simplify matters. After a small amount of practice, you’ll be sneaking around and ripping through Endron employees with ease.
The multitude of primary and secondary quests combined with a skill tree and moderate achievement list gives this both a good longevity and replay value. Like with most Hack ‘n’ Slash titles, there is a risk of it getting tedious. I believe Cyanide has alleviated that with the stealth approach. There is certainly enough to make you want to play this repeatedly.
Can you redeem yourself?
The road to redemption is a long and winding path. I will not spoil it for you and trying it out for yourself is the only way you’ll discover Cahal’s fate. If you play this, you’ll be experiencing a well-designed game that; looks, sounds, and feels great. You’ll be at home almost immediately with the controls, and you get to decide how each mission unfolds. So, do I recommend it? Of course, so buy it here! The life of a Garou is tough. But the Wyrm must be stopped, and the Wyld and Gaia protected at all costs.