Use your powers as a werewolf to tear through the depraved Endron corporation to restore Gaia’s strength in this stealth-action hybrid.
Developer: Cyanide Studio
Release date: 04 Feb, 2021
Although I have a passing knowledge of World of Darkness via Vampire: The Masquerade, I know far less about Werewolf: The Apocalypse. I’ve always enjoyed the former whether it was in the form of the classic Bloodlines or in its original tabletop roleplaying format, so I decided to hop in and see what Earthblood had going for it. Unsurprisingly, it’s a vastly different game than the RPG in the same universe from nearly two decades ago, though it’s one that’s still an enjoyable experience if you’re into stealth-action hybrids.
Endron and Yfen
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood tells the tale of a pack of werewolves and a truly wicked corporation. The Garou, as the werewolves call themselves, have reached a point where their pack includes not only their own kind but also activist humans who are fighting against the corrupting influence of the corporation, Endron. The former take any action, no matter how extreme, to protect Gaia from the Wyrm’s rot and decay while the latter seem to have an unintentional alliance with the Wyrm, an ancient entity that’s purpose is to destroy. You take the role of Cahal, a powerful Garou who acts as the right-hand man to the leader of the pack and your problems are just getting started.
While undertaking a mission against Endron, Cahal ends up giving into rage when it goes awry. His wife is killed, and if that weren’t bad enough, when he takes out his vengeance on those who harmed her, he ends up killing a trusted friend and pack member. The combination wreaks havoc on Cahal’s mind and he leaves the pack, including his daughter, behind in shame. Eventually, push comes to shove. Five years later, while working as something of a mercenary, he comes across information that suggests that Endron is putting together a plan against his old pack in an attempt to completely eradicate them. Cahal returns to set things right, with not only his pack, but Endron, and his daughter as well.
The story of Earthblood is a decent enough one even if it doesn’t break much in the way of new ground. Dialogue is interesting enough as it sets the setting for you, though the choices within it are superficial at best; they don’t really matter. The main quests have tasks that keep you engaged even if many of the environments end up looking very similar. Side quests, on the other hand, are pretty brutal when it comes to being hide-and-seek fetch quests. In the end, if you’re thinking about getting into Earthblood, prepare for a gameplay-based experience, not a thrilling narrative.
Silent Stalking and Chaotic Melee
Cahal has three separate forms with differing strengths and weaknesses. As a human, he’s capable of sneaking around, using his handy-dandy crossbow to pick off vulnerable foes, and interacting with technology, like computers and reinforcement gates. This allows him to alter the environments to his advantage by turning off cameras, unlocking doors, and sabotaging entry points which cut the health of enemies that enter through them in half.
As a wolf, Cahal is incredibly fast and can even be upgraded to be harder to notice. Vents can be used to quickly move from one area to another, either to avoid enemies or to strike from a more advantageous position. This form can also have a more advanced form of penumbra vision, a Garou skill that allows them to see spirits, tech connections, and other useful bits of information.
Finally, we have the Crinos form, or what many of us might picture when we think about werewolves. You’ll be in this form when stealth has been thrown to the wind and you’re having face-to-face confrontations with dozens of enemies at a time. You can swap between two fighting styles while you’re a Crinos: agile and heavy. Agile allows you to move around quickly which is great for picking off those pesky soldiers that pepper you with silver bullets. Silver bullets don’t just deal you damage, they damage your maximum health for the remainder of the encounter so you’ll want to take them out quickly as most encounters have several waves. Alternatively, the heavy form resists more damage and deals out heavy strikes that can really mess an enemy’s day up. This is great for dealing with heavily armored and shielded soldiers, as well as the mech-like and monstrous enemies that have more bulk to them.
All three forms have a variety of skills that can be learned and upgraded as your progress. The skill tree feels satisfying as you unlock each piece along the way as you’re spoiled for choice and each ability feels like it has a real impact. Are you going to focus on sneaking around and putting crossbow bolts into corporate guards’ necks or are you just doing to tear through them with speed by building on the agile Crinos path?
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is not without its flaws even if it is a fairly enjoyable title. As was stated earlier in this review, side quests are a bore, environments quickly feel quite repetitive, and although the story is decent enough, it isn’t good enough to give a pass to these other issues. Though there’s little variety when it comes to assets being used, maps do have a different enough setup that they don’t all feel the same, though I found there to be very little reason to explore off of the path that leads directly to your objective. Sure, there may be an item or two tucked away, but these tend to only be crossbow bolts, your flask to boost your rage, or a spirit that will give you a minor boost toward your next skill point.
That said, I did have fun with the game overall. Combat was particularly satisfying with the variety of moves and styles available to the Crinos form and it never got old for me. Stealthing around was also entertaining most of the time, though after being spoiled by playing a little bit too much Hitman lately, I can say that it’s definitely not the most advanced form of that particular feature that we’ve seen. If you’re looking for a great story and narrative atmosphere that will pull you in like another title in this universe, you’re likely not going to find it here. If you want to wreck some corporate holdings while a metal soundtrack plays in the background, Earthblood’s here for you.