Review | Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood
Playing as a werewolf can be an exhilarating experience. There’s something satisfying about sneaking around as a wolf only to quickly turn into a human to blend into a crowd. Unleashing your rage and turning full werewolf to get yourself out of a tense situation. Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood lets you do just that. Unfortunately, poor design choices, a bland story, and rough visuals hold back what could have been an exciting entry into the Action RPG genre.
In Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood you play as Cahal, a member of a pack of werewolves dedicated to fighting against Endron, a mega-corporation destroying the natural world. Aside from the werewolf aspect, there’s nothing fresh when it comes to the story. It’s your typical story of revenge against an evil company that only seems to be evil for the sake of being evil. You’re given little motivation to care about any characters or causes. Cahal himself is given little personality other than “Endron is evil and I’m going to stop them.” Your pack isn’t much better either; a generic wife with no development, an annoying teenage daughter that hates dad, a typical hacker, and a leader who seems to be a carbon copy of Cahal but older.
However, where Werewolf: The Apocalypse lacks in story, it makes up for in gameplay. Cahal being a werewolf gives you access to three different forms. The Homid form is your basic human form in which you’ll spend much of the game. This is the form you’ll take to operate mechanical systems, stealthily take down enemies, and blend into crowds. Lupus form, which is your wolf form, lets you quickly run around the map without detection, giving you much higher maneuverability. Finally you have Crinos form, your full werewolf form. This is the form you will use when all attempts to use stealth or negotiation have failed and you just need to kill everything in the room.
Taking down enemies in your human form will build up your rage meter, giving you extra abilities to use upon detection and combat starts. I always looked forward to getting caught however, and that’s because Crinos form is where the game truly shines. Cahal is a true monster in werewolf form, tearing through enemies like tissue paper. This is all while a riveting heavy metal soundtrack gets your blood pumping for ruthless carnage.
The three forms provide an excellent gameplay loop that rewards a stealthy approach while also giving you the freedom to play how you choose. Each mission gives you a choice in how you can approach it. For example, an early mission has you infiltrate an Endron training facility. Right from the first dialogue option, I was given the choice to enter werewolf form and break in by force. On the other hand, I could pretend to be a recruit and talk my way in. If I chose to, I could also bypass the whole crowd and sneak my way in as a wolf. Using all three forms in tandem makes you feel like an unstoppable force of nature, stalking the battlefield, picking off targets one by one until you’ve built up enough rage to power your werewolf form.
Unfortunately, the gameplay isn’t without problems. To start, stealth can be widely varying depending on enemy placement. I’ve had rooms where I can go from one person to the next with zero effort, and other rooms where I can’t touch a single enemy without everyone in the room noticing me. Another issue is with Cahal’s one and only weapon, a crossbow. I haven’t talked about it much mostly because of how insignificant it felt. I never wanted to use it due to how scarce the ammo was, which usually ended with me forgetting about it altogether. It also felt clunky, and more often than not, I would ended up missing and notifying everyone in the room about my presence.
I would often find issues with the camera as well. While in werewolf form, the camera can’t seem to keep up with the fast movement of Cahal. This is especially when getting close to a wall. The camera would clip through a wall, making the timing of dodges difficult.
While Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood identifies as an action RPG, the RPG elements are very limiting. There aren’t many upgrades to speak of. Most are statistical upgrades like more health, or more damage, with just a few abilities you can choose. Like other action RPG’s, Werewolf: The Apocalypse gives you dialogue choices during conversations. The system itself is fine, however the phrasing of the choices can be awkward at times. Some choices will be in first person while other choices will sound like Cahal’s inner thoughts.
Among its other issues, Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is visually unimpressive. The game begins with a beautifully rendered cutscene that sets the bar high. Unfortunately, this bar quickly drops just a few seconds later once the game really begins. Once that cutscene ends, you’re greeted with subpar graphics with uncomfortably bad facial animation. During dialogue, characters awkwardly flail around with stiff animation that undoes any immersion that the game creates. Unfortunately, these stiff animations also apply to stealth takedowns, making them less appealing than they already would be. Interestingly enough, the Crinos form runs smoothly, managing to avoid the poor animation issues in the game.
One of the main appeals of Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is simply playing as a werewolf. It succeeds at this goal, but fails at almost everything else. If you enjoy the idea of rampaging through enemies as a werewolf, then this is the game for you. For those that are seeking a bit more in their games, then this is an easy pass.
Final Score: 6 out of 10