Honestly, I excepted to have a new part of Vampire: The Masquerade on my table around this time of the year. Instead, I got Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood. Another tongue-twister! Seriously, who thought of that title... Let's see if it's any good.
In Earthblood, you play as Cahal, who is a werewolf that got exiled from his pack. Yup, a literal werewolf. Pretty cool, right? I've always been more of a vampire girl, but anything goes with monsters like that. Plus, it's set in the same universe as the best vampire game ever, Vampire: The Masquerade! What could possibly go wrong?
Anyway, Cahal returns from his exile to fight against an evil corporation that is destroying nature and threatening his family. So far, so good.
Werewolf Review – The Bad: Awful Graphics & Stiff Characters
Let's start with the elephant in the room. Or should I say wolf? Okay, enough with the puns, let's get real: The game looks bad. And not in a "could use some more polishing"-way, but in a "should have been released 10 years ago"-way. Some of the characters look more like Sims than real people! How could that happen with a 2021 release date? I played on PS4, but that's no excuse to have washed out textures and lifeless characters.
Speaking of characters: Their dialogues are stiff as wood and boring as hell. Oh yes, tell me more about your daddy issues. It's not like I have anything better to do... The only interesting character here is Cahal himself, since he reminds me of Kratos.
The people you fight are not any better in that regard. I wouldn't even call them enemies, since they behave more like mannequins. Except for the mech-like robots that can saw your literal fur off, every enemy is the same. Okay, there's also the disgusting creatures that you meet further into the game that remind me of Venom, which is kinda cool. But when you fight too many foes at once, the performance drops. Yup, performance drop on a 2021 game that looks like it's from 2003. Wonderful, just what I wanted!
The camera also doesn't make it easy to focus on combat. Luckily, you can avoid many fights by sneaking. Unless you get detected and immediately shocked. Almost all the missions have the same structure: You have to infiltrate a facility, sneak and/or fight your way around, maybe do a little side quest and leave again. Also: Every. Area. Looks. Exactly. The same. Ugh...
All of this might sound like Earthblood is a horrible game and honestly... it's actually not. is. Sometimes, trashy games can still be a lot of fun.
This one is a true guilty pleasure. Here's why:
Werewolf Review – The Good: Setting & Gameplay
There are not many positives, but they are important enough to be able to turn this around. At least for me.
First of all, there is the setting. Earthblood has a really nice lore around their werewolf myths. Of course they do, because they got it from the World of Darkness Pen & Paper universe! The game's rendered cutscenes do a pretty good job to present the tone of the story and pulled me right in. The connection between werewolves and mother nature is a nice change of the usual wolf trope. For a nature lover like me, the goal to save the planet from evil corporations is actually motivating!
Next in line, we have the gameplay. Earthblood offers three different forms for Cahal: human, wolf and werewolf. As a human, you can enter some areas without getting bothered. The wolf form is best for sneaking around undetected and, as a werewolf, you smash things! Kind of like a very hairy Hulk. There are actually many cool attacks in your arsenal as a werewolf, which makes fighting the tiny, helpless humans very entertaining. You can even grab them and throw them around like puppets! Love it.
The combat is actually really fun, satisfying and also pretty complex and there is also a fun skill system: You can unlock new abilities by collecting energy from plants. Yup, Cahal sniffs a plant and gets experience from it. Pretty weird, but it fits the nature loving vibe.
In fights, Cahal collects rage. When you have enough of it, Cahal can go into Frenzy Mode and become almost unstoppable. Pretty useful, especially in boss fights. Speaking of boss fights: they are pretty good as well. Not the best I've ever seen, but the last boss really got to me. Still, story wise it's basic, predictable and not exactly a page turner.
Werewolf Review – The Verdict
The most disappointing thing for me was that you can't pet the dogs in Earthblood. But at least you can become one! Honestly, that part alone makes it a lot of fun. Just don't expect too much from the game and ignore the horrible graphics... If you manage that, you get a fun guilty pleasure that will entertain you for a few evenings.
Ultimately, Earthblood reminded me of Prototype. You know, the game where this one guy with the monster arm slashes people left and right? That's a good thing, because Prototype was enjoyable in its own way. However, Earthblood shot for the moon and wasted lots of its potential (heh... more puns).
Point is, I liked the game and really wanted to love it, but couldn't. Especially the story seemed way too rushed and the missions are absolutely forgettable. You should not to buy this at full-price, particularly not in a world where free to play games have AAA production values. Wait for a sale if you really want to live out your inner wolf.
- Release Date: February 4, 2021
- Developer: Cyanide Studios
- Genre: Fantasy-Action
- Single Player
- Time to beat: 10-12 hours
- Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
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