Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood does two things really well. First, it continues the long-standing tradition of awkward naming conventions for video games set in the World of Darkness. And second: it lets me turn into a giant man-beast monster hybrid and tear corporate human stooges apart.
Earthblood, as we’ll call it, is an action-RPG title from Cyanide Studios that has you defending Mother Nature from the evils of humankind. You’ll play a big tough guy who’s at war with himself and the world around him after a mission goes wrong.
First glance: The opening cinematic to the game is breathtaking and beautiful. It sets the stage for an epic “think global, act local” tale of domestic terrorism and anarchy that reminds me a bit of Final Fantasy VII.
The game looks and sounds good. The graphics won’t be nominated for any 2021 gaming awards but they’re not bad either (they would have probably landed well in 2018 or 2019). But the excellent use of style throughout makes up for it. This isn’t a game you buy to show off the power of a PS5 or RTX graphics card, but it does a fantastic job of showing off what the World of Darkness is all about.
Mixed feelings: Gameplay is surprisingly good. The combat is just complex enough to feel satisfying and the shapeshifting mechanics are F-U-N. But, and this is a big but, it feels like I’m controlling a drone instead of a hulking monster of flesh, bone, and muscle.
My character just doesn’t have the sense of weight and power necessary to really push the experience over the top.
Damn good: It’s a lot of fun to switch between human, wolf, and werewolf modes at the press of a button. Without this mechanic, I’d call Earthblood a decent game, maybe something you pick up if you’re really into the World of Darkness. But here the seamless shift between modes gives us a new take on the old swapping weapons paradigm.
Bottom line: Wandering around Earthblood’s well-thought set pieces in various predator forms is an engaging experience that gets bogged down with a little too much stealth. Combat is just fun enough to keep things moving along and the story manages to stay out of its own way enough to keep us on the protagonist’s side.
I question whether the World of Darkness and the real world need another video game featuring a bevy of light-skinned dudes who look like they were ripped out of an Attitude-era WWE stable. But if the people want to see hairy muscle-dudes of all ages grunting through a story, who am I to judge?
I like this game a lot. It does a lot well and I truly hope it’s setting us up for a deeper sequel. In its current iteration it suffers from a not-negative-at-all case of being too good for the independent games bin but not quite long or strong enough to slug it out with the AAA games.
If Cyanide manages to figure out how to combine this effort with something that allows for character customization and deeper RPG aspects, Earthblood could be the beginning of a beautiful franchise.
Werewolf: the Apocalypse – Earthblood is available starting today on the Epic Games store, PS5, Xbox, and PC.