Developed by Cyanide and published by Nacon and Bigben Interactive Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is a third-person action game with some RPG and stealth elements. The trailer for this game, and some of the cutscenes, look stunning, really setting the scene for you to play as an angry werewolf and go wild.
You play as Cahal, a Garou. What is a Garou? Well for those unfamiliar with the massive lore around werewolves like I was, it is a werewolf that is a man who can transform into a standard wolf. But a Garou can also transform into a Crinos, a hybrid of man and wolf and probably the more common impression of what a werewolf looks like. Cahal and his cairn (his pack) are fighting an evil company who deal in fossil fuels that are damaging Gaia, the Mother Earth.
The lore also talks of the Triat, three entities which make up the world the Wyld, the Weaver and the Wyrm. The werewolves lean towards the Wyld and things more natural. Humans lean towards the Weaver with their technology and industry and the Wyrm is the evil which lies within both werewolves and humans. It seems to borrow from certain religious themes of a creator, a maintainer and a destroyer. These three need to be in balance for the world to thrive. But here, the evil company Endron – with an affinity to the Wyrm – is disrupting the balance and corrupting anyone involved. Cahal is taking the fight to Endron and destroying their attempts to extract resources so near to their home that is hurting Gaia. In doing so there are tragic losses and a discovery that Endron is injecting their followers with a serum to increase their affinity with the Wyrm and in turn, corrupting them and making them lose their humanity. It falls to Cahal to try and restore order with the world as only a badass werewolf can do.
With such a pretty trailer and cutscenes and storyline brimming with interesting lore, I threw my hat in the ring early to review this title. I was eager to play as the powerful werewolf shown in the trailer and cause carnage to the evildoers. But what I experienced was far from what I was expecting as the game initially throws you into a bit of an espionage mission. You start the game in human form and from the off, you notice a massive drop in the graphical quality – in-game is not what you would expect from a Series X title. It’s not exactly the highest budget title out there of course, but the character models and the way they move and talk just seem a bit dated. The dialogue and voice acting are quite good but the fact is delivered from a character model that looks many years old seems to make me think all the money went into the trailer budget and not so much time was spent on the character models.
Unimpressive visuals aside, as I mentioned the first part of the game involves you being stealthy which surprised me. The idea is you need to sneak past the guards, deal Endron a blow and avoid being seen. This is made slightly easier by the fact you can morph into your lupus form which is your smaller wolf-like form. Your lupus form makes you harder to detect by guards and you can also sneak into vents to shortcut to different areas. If you are detected then you have to reload from the checkpoint. The weird thing is this is the only section from my playthrough where you lose if you get caught. That is because after this beginning section you are faced with more stealth-based scenarios but it’s not as important to be stealthy and I am greatly appreciative of that as I’m not too fond of that stealth-like games.
What usually happens is you have a set objective to reach and it always involves getting past a room full of enemies. In your human form and lupus form you can use your penumbra vision, a sort of heat vision that allows you to detect enemies locations but also see spirits. With a combination of your vision and lupus form, you can perform takedowns of enemies in the room to get to where you need. You have a crossbow with limited ammo to also take out enemies or security cameras. However, if you are detected – which happened to me about 95% of the time – the enemies rush you and fire at you. This is where you finally turn into your Crinos form and the real fun starts.
In your Crinos form, you are a large and powerful werewolf and you generally end up sweeping all enemies aside with very little fuss early on. You switch between an agile form which is faster and allows you to get to distant enemies like snipers much quicker, or you have an aggressive form which is much slower but more devastating to enemies and is required when the bigger, tougher enemies show themselves. In some rooms, as you fight you build up a frenzy gauge as well and once it is full you can unleash your frenzy form which gives you a health boost and allows you to decimate most enemies in your path. As you clear rooms of enemies, you gain spirit which is used to upgrade Cahal. Once you fill the spirit gauge you gain a spirit point which you can spend on upgrades or buying new moves. Spirit can also be obtained from absorbing spirits on the map which can be found using your penumbra vision.
But this is where the game variation ends sadly. You have the section before the mission where you can do a side quest which usually involves finding certain spirits around the map using your penumbra vision. You can chat with other members of your group and find notes lying around to get more information about the story but that’s about it. Then you have the mission itself which involves reaching a target area to flick a switch or hack into a terminal. In between you and the target area is room after room of waist-high walls, vents, security cameras and the odd turret. You can sneak by if you are an expert but I struggled to stay hidden, though I don’t actually think this game wanted me to stay hidden anyway. I think the plan is to give yourself as much of a headstart as possible before you are caught.
You can find the odd computer to turn off the cameras and turrets. You can also hack panels next to the doors where the enemies come in which reduces the health of the enemies that come through the door. You can perform stealthy takedowns as well but sooner or later you always seem to get caught. I say its probably deliberately unavoidable because you can enrage at any point to your Crinos form and start hacking away. You can even drink a potion to build your rage too, so when you do eventually end up in your Crinos form, you can perform certain moves straight away for an edge. But the battles early on are very easy to breeze through. The combat is pretty much hack and slash with special moves you can use as you build up rage. It is only when the larger enemies and giant robot enemies show up that the difficulty increases slightly. As per the lore, werewolves are vulnerable to silver and when you are shot with silver you are dealt damage that you can’t heal with your regeneration move, but this was only ever minor and after the battle in that room is done you’re healed anyway.
The game is not too long either as you only ever go to 2 areas and you complete the missions in those areas before you head to Endron HQ for the final fight. The story is only semi-interesting as I don’t know a lot about the white wolf lore this seems to be based on and the game doesn’t go into a lot of detail about how we got to this point of corruption. Without spoiling the story it has fairly standard elements of tragedy, redemption and revenge. The whole Wyrm corruption theme that is in the background smells a lot of a political message about how humans are mistreating the world and becoming evil. Although I think lore states that the world is like a parallel of ours it does make you wonder if there is some subliminal messaging going on.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is a bit of mediocre game in very sparkly packaging. I was drawn to the trailer as the transitions to a werewolf looked stunning and I thought this would really be a good play through to test the Xbox Series X. The transitions in the game are quite cool, from human to lupus is neat and the burst into the Crinos form was great at the start. But after you clear a room of enemies with the powerful form you revert back into your human form like nothing has happened and it all feels a bit flat which is a feeling you carry throughout the game.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.