Werewolf The Apocalypse: Earthblood (Feature Review) Xbox Series X|S

Werewolf The Apocalypse: Earthblood (Feature Review) Xbox Series X|S
Review Score:

Based on White Wolf Publishing’s tabletop role-playing game of the same name, Werewolf The Apocalypse – Earthblood by developer Cyanide sees the player in the role of Cahal, an eco-terrorist werewolf who is determined to fight the evil Pentex corporation and the pollution it causes. With the assistance of his wife Ludmilla, brother-in-law Rodko and friend Ava, Cahal aims his sights on oil subsidiary Edron – a facility that is known to pollute the environment with their oil extractions. 

At the start of the game, Rodko asks protagonist, Cahal, to remain behind as Ludmilla is sent in first to infiltrate the Edron facility. The situation quickly goes awry, and Cahal is immediately deployed to retrieve his wife and to eliminate the threat before it’s too late. Unfortunately for Cahal, his wife is quickly dispatched by an opposing werewolf linked to Wadkins’ security. Suddenly enraged by the event, Cahal loses control of his werewolf form, and ends up slaughtering another packmate in the process. These events set the pace for both the story and game that lay ahead.

After the unfortunate events that unfolded at the Edron facility, Cahal disappears for a time and then remerges five years later, where he returns to his homeland Tanker’s Mill. Here he learns that his tribe is at war with Edron’s militia, which is led by Major Graner. It’s also discovered that Edron is developing a deadly new substance called ‘Earthblood’, which is used to create super soldiers in the image of the Wyrm. 

 

This is only the tip of the iceberg, though. Werewolf The Apocalypse – Earthblood‘s story contains many twists and turns, and it can be considered one of the better narratives in a third-person, hack ‘n slash action RPG. Gameplay is certainly a mixed bag, as are the graphics (especially for being enhanced for Xbox Series X), but more on this later. 

The player must explore various locations in the American Northwest. These locations are depicted as ‘hub worlds’, where the player participates in missions that can affect the overall game world. There is also a location called Penumbra, which is almost like a purgatory of sorts (somewhere between reality and the spirit realm). From here, the player can acquire challenges and/or side missions from the ‘Great Spirit of the Waterfall.’ This entity rewards the player for completing the aforementioned challenges, and for opening shortcuts between certain locations.

Despite being a third-person, hack ’n slash action role-playing game, WTA-E’s gameplay contains stealth elements similar to Konami’s Metal Gear Solid series. Some missions have the player sneaking through levels while avoiding detection. Enemy guards can be dispatched quietly by approaching them from behind. The mission objectives for most of these stealth missions, involves sneaking from one area to the next; interacting with machinery; and using environmental objects like crates (to name just a few) to take cover. 

The biggest issue with these stealth missions is how the game abruptly ends if the player gets caught. (In fact, the game sends the player back to the beginning of the room. Once this happens a couple of times, frustration begins to settle in). Not only should there be a way to kill the guards that discover the player, but an option to regain cover afterwards. Just cutting the experience short – and abruptly ending the game – feels punishing to the person playing, and it reduces their desire to continue on.

The combat sequences are a different story entirely. When Cahal transforms into a werewolf (which occurs when he’s enraged by the things he learns and/or witnesses during missions), he becomes far more powerful than his human counterpart. During these combat scenarios, the player can quickly dodge incoming attacks by pressing the B button and moving the Left Analog Stick together. The player can also ‘Leap’ towards an enemy by pressing the Right Trigger and then tapping the X button. This skill can kill enemies quicker than a standard melee attack, but it consumes a considerable amount of Rage.

While fighting, the player can switch between the following two combat stances by pressing the Right Trigger button – Heavy or Agile. As the name implies, the ‘Heavy’ stance provides the player with powerful attacks and resistance against certain conditions. The Agile stance provides agility and speed during combat, but weaker attacks. This stance also regenerates the ‘Rage’ meter faster. 

 

Cahal’s werewolf form also has a ‘Frenzy’ meter that slowly builds over time. When this meter reaches its peak, the player can press up on the Directional Pad to activate a skill called ‘Frenzy’. While in this ‘frenzied’ state, the player receives the benefits of both aforementioned ‘stances’ – speed and power. Crinos (Cahal’s werewolf form) is almost unstoppable in this state, and he is capable of dispatching multiple enemies with relative ease. His ability to heal (which is performed by pressing Left Trigger and the A button together) will not function in this state. Once this skill depletes, however – Cronis will return to his normal state.

The in-game ‘Target Locking’ system makes it easy to ‘focus’ on enemies (i.e. specifically the bigger, more dangerous ones that appear throughout the game), which is an added bonus. While some games have twitchy cameras that will literally obscure the player’s view by rotating behind objects or inside walls, WTA-E’s combat system had none of these issues (at least not at the time of this review). The Locking System kept up with the action the entire time.

WTA-E includes a Skill Tree where a variety of ‘Skills’ can be unlocked. This ‘Skill’ panel is divided into two categories – Combat (fighting enemy soldiers) and Tactical (based on the stealth aspect of gameplay). The Combat skill tree includes the following: General stats, Agility, Heavy attacks  and ‘Frenzy’. Where the Tactical skill tree is concerned, the player has access to Takedowns, Crossbows, Rage, and the Werewolf form, among others. Both skill trees can be cleared (and the skills reassigned) by talking to the spirit warden, Yfen, who occupies the player’s camp. 

Werewolf The Apocalypse – Earthblood claims to be optimized for the Xbox Series X (the console this title was reviewed on), but the only notable changes seem to be the FPS during combat and the in-game screen resolution. The graphics themselves could easily be mistaken for a last generation effort. For example: the character models lack in detail, and their flat, rubbery-looking skin gives the appearance of lifeless mannikins. The same can’t be said about Cahal’s werewolf form; the enemies he fights; or the environments used during the combat sequences. In fact, the overall graphic quality for these segments far surpass the quality of the intermissions (among others), which (ironically) uses in-game graphics to progress the story. It’s one of those tongue-in-cheek moments for sure.

Werewolf The Apocalypse- Earthblood is a decent third-person, hack ’n slash action RPG. As stated previously, the in-game story is engaging and the character development is quite involving. The gameplay, on the other hand, doesn’t always feel cohesive. The ‘stealth’ segments can be punishing to the player, and the combat itself — though quite good— could have been longer and more rewarding. With that said, some will find that Werewolf The Apocalypse- Earthblood is an acquired taste, that unfortunately doesn’t take full advantage of the console it plays on.

(Maybe some of these issues will change in a future update? Only time will tell…)

Werewolf The Apocalypse: Earthblood Official Website:
https://werewolf-videogame.com/en

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Xbox Series X
Developer: Cyanide
Publisher: Nacon
ESRB: M (Mature 17+)
Price: $49.99

Review Score
Graphicswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
The graphics could easily be mistaken for a last gen effort.
Soundwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Great music and good voice acting.
Gameplaywww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Fun combat, but frustrating stealth segments.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Werewolf The Apocalypse: Earthblood is a great concept that seems to miss the mark in some areas.
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