Some games don’t have to try very hard to grab folks attention. For example, if a game is going to put me into the role and foaming fangs of a bloodthirsty werewolf, then that battle is already half won. I’m already on board the ship Lycan. Signed up. However, sometimes that outstanding centerpiece isn’t enough to carry the entirety of the game – no matter how much wolfiness is involved. Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is a game that falls deeply into this category.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse is based on a tabletop RPG that is part of a larger series titled World of Darkness. Developer Cyanide has brought the whole dealio into a gaming format and it goes without saying that this is an entirely different experience. Also, if you aren’t familiar with The World of Darkness or any of its existing mythos get ready to be punished for that fact. Werewolf: The Apocalypse doesn’t hold your hand if you are new to this world. The feeling ends up akin to walking into a season of Game Of Thrones Half way through and trying to make sense of it. It just doesn’t work and is majorly confusing.
In Werewolf: The Apocalypse you play as Cahal a shapeshifter whom is part of an eco-terrorist group. Cahal’s main goal is to bring down the Pentex coproation and its subsidiary… Endron. Yep, a small play on words there that is kinda pointing at an oil company that rhymes with Endron. Clever? The jury is still out on that one. As part of the the Garou Nation, an tribe of werewolves, Cahals goal is to savagely take down these evil corporations lead by Wyrm poisoning the earth and to ultimately save Gaia.
Werewolf: The Apocolypse is a third-person action game that allows you, Cahal to shapeshift into a regular wolf form and big badass werewolf form. Each of these forms suits you to take on varying tasks. For example, as a wolf you are able to scout areas quickly and remain mostly unseen. In human form you are able to quickly dispatch enemies with sneak attacks and with your crossbow. Your werewolf form is used to take down mass amounts of bad guys and to unleash your fury.
The largest problem you will find yourself facing right up front is that even though, the game has a solid stealth mode as a human, it ends up not mattering very much because, you can turn into a werewolf at any time and take everyone out with little to no effort. So what the hell is the point of sneaking around? What is the purpose of the smaller wolf form? There is very little reason to take on those tasks unless you want to knock out an achievement. Outside of that, I pretty much would end up defaulting to werewolf form and taking everyone out with no problem.
The larger problem there is that somehow Werewolf: The Apocalypse made turning into a raging big bad werewolf and taking out tons of enemies unexceptional and repetitive. It seriously just turns into button mashing and killing everyone, order up the same, do it again, order up the same do it again. You get the point.
Controls feel off too. There isn’t that snappy crunch to anything. Instead you are left with iffy controls that don’t make any of this feel tight or connected at all.
The AI in the bad guys is not very intelligent. The hordes of humans just run up to you and shoot, basically waiting for you to put them out of their misery and get them out of this game. The voice acting between characters is just as bad as the AI. It’s out of place and feels like baby’s day out with a soap opera. The stiffness of the characters and the dialogue is cringeworthy at times. This is a long way from the immersive world of the tabletop RPG’s. The details contained within those bits of setup and dialogue is artful and deserving of its fandom this game takes that and does little with it other than sprays exposition to little effect.
The skill tree much like the combat leaves a lot to be desired. Outside of skills that upgrade your health and basics like that, there is very little that makes the game feel any different or that adds anything fun you can execute. I was hoping that there would be some skills that drastically changed up the gameplay or that enemies would force you to play differently but again this was another half measure with little effectiveness.
There is no reason that playing as a werewolf that fights giant mechs and other giant werewolves and monsters isn’t an all-out shindig of a bloody good time. If Cyanide had even managed to create a fun hack-n-slash game with some great combat involved, it would have still been sad to see the stealth methods pushed out of the way, but It still would have given us a game memorable for something. Instead Werewolf: The Apocalypse feels dated and offers nothing new or even enjoyable. Outside of a few levels that I enjoyed the design of – there was nothing to get excited or wolf out about. For a series that is a distant relative of Vampire the Masquerade this was a very forgettable experience both for fans of the tabletop and for fans of werewolves in general.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and the Epic Gamestore.