Vampire: The Masquerade was a game I was late to the party to but it still left a very strong impression on me. Then when I found out it was part of a larger universe, well colour me intrigued. Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood will be the first title that expands the universe for me and is developed by Cyanide Studio. Let us see if the swap from fangs to fur is a good one.
The Werewolf universe consists of three entities: The Wyld, which is in charge of nature and life, The Weaver, which creates the concepts that the Wyld foster and finally, The Wyrm, which strikes a balance between the other two entities. Pentex, a human corporation, has continued to pollute the planet and corrupt The Wyrm, and with it drive the werewolf clans into war. Cahal is a well-respected werewolf and after an incident at a Pentex training facility, he gives in to his primal rage and accidentally kills one of his own. This drives him into exile, but several years later he learns his family is in danger and returns to protect his clan and restore balance to nature.
Watch the gameplay trailer below:
Right out of the gate we have a solid concept. The werewolves operate outside of human society and are trying to keep nature balanced, but human businessmen are content with destroying the planet to make more money. The werewolves use guerilla tactics to damage Pentex and strike from a giant tree, somehow across the road from several Pentex facilities…don’t worry about that detail.
Cahal is your standard broody hero and his drive to keep his family and clan safe is enough to push the plot forward. While the plot is relatively safe, it’s not too bad, everything is explained well and the deeper lore is interesting. The story won’t win any awards, but there is enough to interest you. However, the script undoes a lot of the good work. The dialogue feels really rushed and important scenes are given no time to breathe, seriously they just hard cut to the next scene. The story is also really dour, the Vampires series managed to inject style and humour into its projects and here, well it feels bland, despite having a solid base.
The game is an action RPG with stealth elements. In each combat location, the game pushes you to begin with stealth. It’s a simple system, get behind people for an insta-kill, pick them off at a distance with a crossbow, hack cameras or turn into a wolf and sneak through vents. It works well enough, while there are a couple of areas you can sneak through, most require combat. When combat begins you turn into your werewolf form and there are two main fighting styles, ‘agile’ and ‘heavy’.
They’re true their names and have a couple of abilities tied to their movement style, to complement the standard action game combat, yet again it works well enough. You can get through most of the game by simply using the ‘heavy’ style and doing a light-light-strong attack pattern. The lack of difficulty and enemy variety really hurts the overall experience and it becomes easier to simply avoid stealth and mash the same combo repeatedly, which yes, devastates bosses as well. If you want to get fancy, you can trigger a ‘frenzy’ mode too.
As far as the RPG elements go, you gain XP from battle and absorbing spirits in a level, the skill tree is very limited and allows you to become almost unkillable very early on. There is a dialogue system, but you can’t influence anything and the final decision ends in “Which type of waved based combat do you want to face?” and while there are side quests, they boil down to simply finding a couple of spirits. Everything is fine, but nothing elevates itself, I can’t say I didn’t like what I was playing, but I was hoping for Cyanide to break out just a little bit.
On a visual front, again it’s okay. The PS5 version looks very clean and loads quickly and, with taking into account that Cyanide is a small studio, it looks competent. I severely dislike the copy/paste levels though, every level feels like the exact same lab/factory and gives the game the impression of a movie tie-in game. Voice acting is pretty poor, though the voice actor for Cahal does a good job. The score is quite good throughout, it nails that mid-2000’s alternative vibe.
I may be coming across as negative and the final score of 2.5/5 might seem low, but here’s the thing. For a game like this, that is a commendable score. The story is okay, but the script is weak. The gameplay systems work well enough to get you through the entire game, but never step beyond anything average. The visuals are fine, but never eye-popping. All of this leaves a game, that is perfectly playable from start to finish and there are moments of good stuff, fairly often at that. However, if Cyanide had taken an approach like their Game of Thrones title and nabbed concepts from Vampire: The Masquerade, this could have been a much better project. Games like Werewolf: the Apocalypse – Earthblood have a place in the industry and I hope Cyanide continue to improve in their next project……which better be another Styx game, I miss that dude.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood was reviewed using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Publisher: Nacon Developer: Cyanide Release Date: 4th February 2021 Reviewed On: PS5 Also Available On: PC/Steam, PS4, Xbox Series X/ S, Xbox One