Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Publisher: Nacon SA
Platform: Reviewed on PS5 (also available on PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series and X)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 4.2.2021
A code for Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood was provided for review purposes.
Enter the Twilight Zone
Wolf. Crinos. Human. Three forms that render the moment-to-moment gameplay of Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood as unique as it comes. When you aren’t sneaking around in the shadows in Cahal’s wolf form, you are shapeshifting into a human to snap necks or transitioning into a Crinos to wreak havoc on the environment and your enemies. It’s fascinating, yet oh-so-flawed.
Already, in the short while that the PS5 has been on the market, a weight of expectation has been placed on any game bearing that white banner across the top of the box art. How will it utilise the adaptive triggers? What will the haptic feedback offer? Just how good will the ray tracing be? Most importantly of all, will it showcase the best of what the PS5 can do at this early stage in its lifecycle?
In the case of Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the response to every one of those questions is resoundingly underwhelming. The reality? It doesn’t utilise the adaptive triggers. There’s no haptic feedback offered. Ray tracing is practically non-existent and, unfortunately, it wouldn’t have been much of a showcase had it been released at the start of the last generation of consoles, let alone this gen.
If Only They’d Altered This Beast
It’s a real shame because the aforementioned shapeshifting yields results with some potential. Combat is engaging, with stealth playing a bit-part role to the out-and-out hack-and-slash action. You can use the environment to your advantage as you take out enemies one at a time or tap R1 and become a savage beast who thrashes everything in sight. Variety is always a good thing, however, there are two obstacles that this Altered Beast just can’t overcome.
First and foremost, the AI is clunky at best. Enemies have predetermined routes that are only initiated once you get close. I liken it to that of The Truman Show – that movie with Carrey in it. There’s no fluidity to their movement, and you can actually see them jump into action because they don’t start their routes as soon as you enter a room – in some cases, it’s only when you get in close proximity. Lifeless and lacklustre are two words that spring to mind.
The second concern is not so much in the execution, but in the design itself. Having two different forms that juxtapose each other, one inevitably ends up superseding the other. It often feels impossible to stealth kill your way out of a room, so the best option is to just come out swinging from the get-go. Invariably, you end up losing some of the appeal of the core gameplay elements as a result.
A Bit of a Howler…
This isn’t the only place where the appeal is lost. Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is a game based upon the tabletop role-playing game of the same name: a game that is steeped in lore. For that very reason, and to ensure its mature themes of idealism, cynicism and eco-terrorism aren’t lost or muddied, the game sticks to a very linear path. There’s the suggestion of a branching narrative through dialogue choices you can make when talking to NPCs, but they only serve to provide you with additional information rather than to alter the course of events. Disappointing, but to be expected given the lack of polish and detail in other areas of the game.
The game’s themes suggest that a deep and brooding narrative is on offer here. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There is little to get excited about and any early signs that this is a story to get invested in are all but forgotten once you get a few hours in. It’s as repetitive as the gameplay itself and feels antiquated in its delivery.
There are a couple of moments where potential is evident, the most notable of which being in the skill trees. Combat and stealth upgrades are available. However, if it wasn’t already apparent, it serves you best to upgrade your combat abilities far more than it does to upgrade your stealth skillset. Enjoyment can be found when your abilities are strengthened, but the repetitive nature of the story beats, mission types, and enemies extends to the combat eventually too.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood strikes me as a game that had a lot to say but wasn’t quite sure where to start. Controlling an eco-terrorist werewolf who traverses areas in the American Northwest in the hopes of overcoming a powerful corporation that is polluting and pulverising the land is quite the statement. And yet, underneath its complex exterior is a game that failed to get the basics right.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood from the PSN store here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.