Review: Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood
Cyanide Studio has published some rather good games, with Call of Cthulhu being the latest one I can remember - a title I even reviewed and actually liked a lot. They've now gotten the opportunity to develop the next title in the Werewolf series, Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood, and when I heard that it was them, I set my expectations pretty high. The game is mixing action, a deep story, and exploration together (as well as a lot more), but does it all work out well? I've completed the game and I'm ready to share my thoughts.
Platform: Xbox Series X.
Visuals & performance
To start off, Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood is by no means a bad looking game. In fact, it's very beautiful most of the time, and it is also optimized for the Xbox Series X|S, so there are a lot of benefits to look forward to. Textures are rendered in a very high resolution that makes everything from walls & floors to all kinds of objects but also whole enviroments look extremely rich in detail and realism.
Thanks to these nice textures, character models are also highly detailed, but some of the less important ones found can look a bit rough, so the focus has definitely been on making sure that the protagonist is as good looking as he can be, cause there's a clear difference. The level design isn't bad at all, with most of it giving me a varied and unique look to wherever I go, while also looking very good - big and beautiful forest-filled enviroments with amazing lighting and colors, semi-linear facilities/indoor sections, and a desert area that is magically aesthetical with its open landscape.
Now, the resolution seems to be very high, and presumably at the very least around 1800p, but I don't think it's 4K, made apparent by its slightly soft look overall. It's the framerate that is more important, however, and Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood is running at a 100% stable 60 frames per second on the Xbox Series X, with no issues in this department in any way during my playthrough, a feat that is definitely important during combat. This stellar performance is joined by a completely bug-free experience as well, so I never had to restart any part due to some game-breaking issue, for example.
One of my most favorite parts is the extremely quick load times, with the longest ones only lasting around 6-7 seconds. It's pretty surreal witnessing a game load this quickly, to be honest, and it's perfect since the game does have a tendency to make you have to retry a section several times. As a bonus, Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood does a great job at mixing together superb lighting, very defined shadows, awesome effects, and some truly terrific cinematic cut-scenes in-between it all. It's safe to say that in terms of visuals and performance, this game more than delivers, even though I would like the resolution to be higher.
The voice acting is also pretty rad, though not surprising to me since I knew that Cyanide would deliver as far as this goes. There's great performances from pretty much everyone involved, especially when it comes to Cahal. Mostly aside from some dull facial animations and animations in general, during conversations, for example, the game is visually exceptional.
Gameplay & story
The gameplay is definitely king in Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood, where the majority of it saw me mowing down, at times, insane amounts of enemies as a werewolf, and a very fierce one at that. Let's start with the story, though; I played as Cahal, a Garou that can transform into either a wolf or a Crinos at any time (a werewolf), hellbent on staying faithful to Gaia, the creator of the Garou, and one of the most powerful spirits there is. Endron, an evil corporation led by Richard Wadkins that does everything in its power to get rid of all of Gaia via the help of the Wyrm, a spirit of destruction, has been trespassing on Cahal and his group's territory for some time now.
Cahal is in company of his good friend Rodko (the father to his wife), his wife, and daughter, all working together on a plan to infiltrate the nearest Endron facility in an attempt to remove them from the forest. Things take a turn for the worst, unfortunately, resulting in the loss of two people, and Cahal going into exile for 5 whole years after giving into rage during the mission, "abandoning" his whole team. On the fortunate side, one of his missions later on leads him right back to his old friends, in order to once and for all end Endron's reign in their territory. I wasn't sure what to expect from the story but I can honestly say that it's not bad at all; there's vengeance, choices, side missions (although not many), many different characters, slight character development, big plot points such as having to fight a dear old friend, and an ending that, despite being very predictable, is both sad as well as satisfying.
The cut-scenes are very well done - featuring some great plot sections and story development, all put in a nice cinematic package that looks marvelous. Cahal meets all kinds of different characters, mostly humans, but it's not limited to just that, as he also gets to talk to two powerful spirits such as Pachu'a and Yfen. I did think that the story was dragging on a bit once I got further into it, mostly due to the fact that I was chasing the same objective for a while, yet I was never really bored. Arguably, the gameplay is the best of part of the game, despite having some flaws. Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood plays in third-person and is mostly focused on extreme & brutal action as a werewolf while listening to awesome rock/metal music.
It's way deeper than that, though and from the moment I was able to control Cahal, I was tasked with entering a hostile Endron site to find my wife, which also introduced me to transforming into Lupus (a wolf), making me go faster and harder to see. Shortly after, I'm met with the first of many stealth sections found in the game, consisting of moments where Cahal can either quietly make his way through by evading enemies, taking them down with either his hands or crossbow, or enrage and become a werewolf to kill anything standing in his way. While the stealth sections are somewhat enjoyable, they're definitely flawed as well due to how dumb the AI can be at times, making them too easy but also too simple in general for them to be anything special at all.
After making my way through the site and finding my objective, I finally get to wreak havoc for once as Cahal's werewolf - serving as the highlight of the game, in my opinion. These fights are very awesome and work in the way of mostly pressing A (fast) or Y (strong and slow) to inflict damage on your enemies, but also B to evade attacks, mixing it all up with combos, all contributing to filling the rage meter, which is highly essential in order to survive as they give Cahal the ability to use powers such as healing himself, or frenzy; the most lethal one there is, killing enemies extremely quickly. Enemies come in different sizes and behave differently as well, so I wasn't able to get too comfortable with just one specific type of enemy, forcing me to adapt during combat.
The game isn't entirely open world but does feature similar freedom when not in a main mission that sees Cahal infiltrating some sort of facility, allowing for some collectible hunting and free time to talk to NPCs - which brings me to conversations; during speeches with one, I'm able to choose between different dialogue options, giving me an additional sense of freedom in a way, but not in a significant enough way, as they're mostly pretty thin. In-between fighting enemies, completing mission objectives and exploring, an occassional classic boss fight appears and they're actually pretty cool to take part in, ranging from small to big ones, some being more difficult and some being very easy.
Now, even though I love the fighting and how brutally bloody it is, I did feel like it became a bit too repetitive after doing it over and over again, although a certain change in enemy behavior around the half point of the game does alter it all up a bit. Mission tasks are fairly logical and can be stuff like planting explosives, hacking a computer, or simply finding helpful information, filling the gameplay up decently. The main issue I have with the game is that it's too short AND the general gameplay is too barebones to be asking for $50.
Even with all the collectibles that can be found, collectibles that help gain spirit points, which in turn means being able to unlock several different skills that could for example give Cahal's Crinos a more powerful agile stance, or for slow-motion to be activated once seen in stealth. I mean, I've completed the game twice, spending at most around 5-6 hours in one playthrough, and that's with exploring as much as possible. It's just too little for too much. The general gameplay is nice and I like a lot, but $50? I don't feel like the game justifies that, to be honest.
All in all
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood is a worthy addition in the World of Darkness series, but not a worthy $50 game. It doesn't last long length-wise but does offer interesting gameplay, with the werewolf fight sections definitely acting as the highlight of it all, mostly due to how much fun it is, even though it can be somewhat repetitive. Dialogue options, skill system, stealth, exploration, side missions, and more, all working together to create gameplay that is fun. Paired with stellar visuals, very good voice acting, a great story, a skill system and awesome boss fights; these more than makes the game shine bright. The feeling of the werewolf sections carrying the game for the most part is for sure a true thing, but I don't see that as a problem. In short, the game is great and offers a lot, but not enough to justify spending $50 on it.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood is available digitally on the Microsoft Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S, with two different editions to choose from. Are you interested in buying it? That can be done here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/werewolf-the-apocalypse-earthblood-pre-order/9n5zh5b23x9n
This review is written by Jesper Ingemansson and is based on his honest opinion about the game.
A review code was provided by Nacon for review purposes.