WEREWOLF: THE APOCALYPSE - EARTHBLOOD
By Tom "TomBsTone" Bronneberg on February 4, 2021
Alright I have got something to confess. A lot of times when I see a new game that tickles my fancy with interesting design or a great teaser trailer, I tend not to look at other trailers or reviews, before I actually get my hands on it. I just want to experience the game like it was intended. Not biased by other people playing or reviewing it. Werewolf: The Apocalypse-Earthblood (WWtAE for short) was one of these games.
I saw the game poster, with the bald biker dude, a big wolf and an even bigger werewolf and my mind went crazy. I thought we would finally get a next gen werewolf title, maybe running around like in God of War and beating the crap out of everything that moves, or a massive open world like Skyrim only now you can become a Werewolf right from the start. At least these were all dreams and valid possibilities at the time. Boy was I wrong... but not in a bad way. So be patient and let me explain.
WWtAE is an action role-playing game, developed by Cyanide Studio, which is not a huge AAA game developer but certainly not fit for the Indie tag. The studio is best known for games like Call of Cthulhu and the Blood Bowl and Styx series. They also made a couple of dozen rugby and cyclist video games, still not sure what to make of that combo, but hey; to each his own. Back to the game at hand! After installing Werewolf, you are granted a very nice intro cinematic and then the menu presents itself. Massive Werewolf in your face, and pumping Thrash-Metal from our New Zealand friends of Alien Weaponry. Freaking awesome!!! But after starting up the game, I'm immediately thrown off balance. Wait a tick, this isn't like God of War... I can't free roam like in Skyrim... Now, just hold on for a minute... what is going on here? Well, ladies and gentlemen, it was my feverishly NOT looking at other trailers and previews that led me astray this time, because WWtAE turned out to be a role-playing game based on the Werewolf:The Apocalypse table top RPG by WhiteWolf publishing... Say what?!
After doing a bit of reading up on this "minor" detail, my view of this game has completely changed. At first I was a bit disappointed about the gameplay, and about the motion refinement, and the graphics. I mean, it felt like one of the earlier Hitman games. A bit clunky, like something was a bit off with the animations. The human skin textures are amazing, especially Cahal himself, but the character movement is off. Also, the scenery is a bit like last gen. At least, so I felt still dreaming about my "Werewolf of War in Tamriel" game. But like I said, all that changed after I started playing the game. WWtAE is not a hack and slash game, it's not a open world game, it's not a puzzle game, it's not a platformer... Actually, it's everything at once. And that's freaking awesome!
Starting off as Cahal, a member of a semi spirit, half man / half wolf tribe, who are bound to Gaia, Nature Incarnate, we are dedicated to protect it at all cost from the evil spirit called the Wyrm, a corrupting entity that is poisoning the Earth. Pentex, a multinational corporation that serves the Wyrm is presented as the physical enemy that is producing an army of mechanical and biological terrors to protect its fracking and oil refinery sites all across Northern America. Cahal and the other members of his tribe are capable of transforming between their human, wolf and Crinos (werewolf) form at will. During our quest, Cahal will need to control his Rage in order to stay focused and protect his tribe. Because when a Crinos loses that rage control, the real Werewolf kicks in, and won't stop until everything in the area is dead... be it friend or foe.
The gameplay is totally different from what I initially thought, as I have already mentioned. And the somewhat clunky playstyle resembling an early days Hitman, starts to make sense now. You need to walk around as Cahal to converse with the people around you in order to discover the secrets, the plans, and the history of the tribe. In wolf form, you can sneak past guards and pass through small gates and tunnels. And in Crinos form... well, let's just say this is when all hell breaks loose. So in a sort of roundabout way, it is a hitman game. Only this time, we don't need the silver ballers, we have a freaking werewolf to let loose. The level design is also done in a way that makes more sense, now we know this game is based on a tabletop game. You'll need to infiltrate locations like a dam, power plant or prison, where you'll need to sneak past guards and camera systems. Each level is like a small puzzle in its own way. You need to observe the room, the scientists, the evil henchmen and the camera systems to plan your route from A to B.
Open doors, activate elevators, disable the defence turrets or whatever the game throws your way. But if you fail the sneaking around part, and get noticed by the camera system or one of the guards, well then the shit will hit the fan and Cahal will go from Eco friendly tree hugger to terrifying werewolf in less time than it takes the average person to correctly read out loud the word "Lycantrophy". It is at that moment that the bloody fun starts. In a way, this part is like early days God of War. You can lock on to your enemies and unleash the most awesome display of ass whooping I've seen in quite a while. And if you trigger the Frenzy mode, well, let's just say the cleaning crew will be mopping body parts and blood from the ceiling and walls for quite some time.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood manages to successfully combine elements of story driven conversations, experience points to use for all sorts of enhancements, abilities and upgrades, stealth puzzle level design and massive bloody brawl sequences into one bad-ass experience, and I can only say that this is a really, REALLY fun game to play. The Sound design by Alien Weaponry is a welcome addition for me as a Metal head, but it's not too extreme, so everyone can enjoy it. It really fits well in the hardcore scenes and this type of game. The voice acting is also really well done. So, to be honest, Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood wasn't quite what I expected, but turned out to be even better. This really is an interesting game, and a must play for all of you metal heads, Eco friendly tree huggers and wolf enthusiasts out there!