by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Of Wolf And Man
Letís start a debate. Werewolves or vampires? Itís a long running debate, much like pirates versus ninjas, cowboys versus aliens, Freddy versus Jason and more. For fans of World of Darkness though, werewolves or vampires dives far deeper than surface level style and ability. From the tabletop through to PC games, World of Darkness has established so many different social hierarchies among the things that go bump in the night just out of sight of most prying human eyes.
Over the last couple years, the franchise has been ramping up its efforts to plant itself more firmly in the world of videogames. We have Vampire: The Masquerade- Bloodlines 2 on the way; we have several spinoff titles already out or soon to release, and on the werewolf side of things itís been heating up as well. In October of last year I had the chance to review the narrative driven Werewolf: The Apocalypse- Heart of the Forest, while today I get the chance to bring you my thoughts on the newly released Werewolf: The Apocalypse- Earthblood. As someone who firmly thinks werewolves are superior to vampires, does this game do our lycanthropes justice? Bare your teeth, and prepare for a wild hunt indeed.
Wildness Is The Preservation Of The World
In Werewolf: The Apocalypse- Earthblood, players step into the role of Cahal (whose appearance seems heavily inspired by Matthew McConaugheyís character Denton Van Zan in Reign of Fire). A Garou (werewolf) thatís in voluntary exile from his pack following a tragic event that causes him to briefly lose control of the beast inside of him, harming his own in the process. But Cahalís departure doesnít see his work done, because much like our own world there are sinister forces at work. The biggest threat to the Garou the world over, with their tight bond to nature, is the Wyrm and its use of over consumption, outright greed, and nonstop industrialization. While in our world deforestation and pollution is often a backdrop to the other chaos going on all around us, in World of Darkness it often plays a major role in the plots and when it comes to anything focused on the Garou it takes center stage.
The corporation Endron, as well as various smaller corporations are being fueled by the Wyrm to rapidly strip life from the world and it falls on the Garou to be the first and last line of defense against them. While the story itself is pretty interesting, the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. Cahal in his own right is a great character, but when his lines feel like they fall so flat...it works against his charm.
Cahal will have various tools and tricks at his disposal along the way, which leads to the game consisting of moments of stealth and moments of full on action. Most stealth segments involve players taking on the form of a feral wolf and sneaking around using swiftness and hard-to-reach spaces to get around large crowds, or by using Cahalís human form to sneak through lightly crowded areas and employing takedown moves or his handy crossbow to silence the enemy before they ever realize heís there. These moments are serviceable, but unfortunately in a world where weíve lived through Metal Gear, Splinter Cell, Thief and more the stealth in Earthblood falls heavily on the side of basic. It works, but itís lacking the substance that makes it exciting.
Lucky for fans of carnage though, where the stealth disappoints the action is pure button-mashing insanity. It may lack the finesse of most modern titles but thereís a lot to be said for clawing your way through hordes of enemies in your werewolf form. Tossing a body through the air and knocking over groups of bad guys, leaping yards towards a sniper and executing him in the blink of an eye, and even a fair share of frantic, if a bit predictable, boss fights really help bring back a feeling of nostalgia when games could float on mindless violence as entertainment value. Give me an open area and let me beat the hell out of groups of enemies and feel like some sort of supernatural beast like in Earthblood, and you can keep me playing your game.
Back To A Better Day
Werewolf: The Apocalypse- Earthblood may not be a game thatís going to gain widespread acclaim, but for fans of the World of Darkness franchise itís great to finally have an outing that dives into the more wild side of things. If Werewolf: The Apocalypse is able to find its footing with Earthblood, then things can only go up from here. The old-school beat-em-up feel of the combat encounters steals the show, proving once again that some things donít go out of style.
Fun beat-em-up combat encounters, an intriguing story that holds true to the World of Darkness framework.
Lackluster voice acting detracts from the narrative, stealth segments are serviceable but basic.