In the World of Darkness series, the first game that comes to mind is Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. This is a modern-day world where you learn about vampires within the first few hours of gameplay. You learn everything from what they can and can’t do to their society and how the world looks at them. So, for anyone new to the World of Darkness and the Vampire play style, it gives you stepping stones to follow and helps you to better understand the world and its people. In Werewolf: The Apocalypse -Earthblood, it appears that you must already be familiar with this world or you will be lost in translation when you start playing.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood was developed by Cyanide and published by Nacon and Bigben Interactive. You play as Cahal, a Garou of the Fianna tribe who must battle creatures like the Black Spiral Dancers created by the Wyrm to save Gaia in Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood. Now would be a good time to break out a White Wolf rulebook to even understand that statement.
As Cahal in Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood, you are an eco-terrorist, fighting against Endron, an oil company hellbent on being on top no matter what is destroyed in the process. You start out the game learning the basic movements and changing from your human to wolf phase. This had me a little upset since in the tabletop game there was no “wolf” phase. The human phase lets you work with technology and shoot a crossbow at targets. Later on, when you build up skill points you then can use the crossbow to take out cameras or troop reinforcement doors. Then when the combat starts, you can transform into your werewolf phase.
For me, the best part of the game was the stealth which is a huge difference from the books since werewolves are never stealthy. This is where the wolf form comes into play. As a wolf, you can sabotage equipment and rack up them sweet stealth kills. Each level is so well thought out that I was enthralled by trying to complete every puzzle to make sure that no one could catch me on camera or draw unwelcomed attention. Unfortunately, I was dismayed when I found out that I could easily just slaughter everyone and still complete the mission. There are no extra bonus points for either being stealthy or loud and rampaging.
As for the combat, I was hoping to be mesmerized by being an 8-foot-tall, 575-pound rampaging teeth and fangs destruction machine. I am saddened to say that this felt mediocre at best. It reminds me of the old-style arcade-style gameplay where you smash buttons and watch everything die. Even on the hardest difficulty setting, you never have to dodge or roll out of the way of the onslaught of silver bullets and projectiles coming your way if you just keep swinging for the fences. There are some neat grabs that you can do when you’re pulling off your combos and then there are a few finishing moves that can be done, but nothing that makes you ever feel like a very upset rage machine.
I think for me personally I never felt that scary to my prey. In the middle of combat, as I am ripping and slashing at everything around me, there were more people coming into the room like there was nothing going on. It was like a normal day at the office. “Oh, look, Jim. A big hairy monster is tearing Jerry apart over there.” “I see it, Paul. I guess we should start shooting at it. I am sure it will run off if we both shoot.” In the tabletop game, NPC’s would run in fear and scream or be frozen in place just at the mere sight of a Werewolf. I never got that experience from this game, even once.
Leveling up in the game gives you Spirit Points. You get these by completing the story mission or finding them while using your special vision ability to find how things are connected. These points are then used to unlock perks and abilities that are meant to help you throughout your gameplay experience. However, I must admit that I quit using them since they didn’t add anything extra to my play style.
Even though I have yet to beat the game, I don’t truly see any replay value for me for this game. I can’t make any changes to the character or pick a different outcome or even a different play style. The character has no chance of adapting to anything else than what he is. You can’t pick a different character design, or tribe, or even a different wardrobe. Unless you are really into being this one wolf, then you have no other decisions to make.
I would like to say this is the worse part of the game, but I ran into a lot of bugs playing it as well. First off, the audio for the cinematics between Cahal and fellow eco-terrorists was faulty at best. At times, I was able to read the conversation since their lips moved and there was no sound. I also ran into video glitches from time to time and pixilation issues. There were four times that I was in the middle of combat and beat down some henchmen when they skipped to the same spot and when I could play, I was still in werewolf form swiping at the air.
I am upset and heartbroken that this game is nowhere near the level of other games that are created from the World of Darkness, and I truly believe that even as a lover of the World of Darkness series, this game should not have been released. Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood for the PC is a let down from what I think the game could have and should have been. Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is available on Epic Game Store today for $39.99 for the original and $49.99 for The Champion of Gaia Edition with some extra perks to start your journey off a little easier. The PS4/PS5 and Xbox One versions are also out now at $39.99 for the original and $49.99 for The Champion of Gaia Edition.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood for the PC provided by Nacon.