It might have one heck of a mouthful of a title, but Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood actually ticked plenty of boxes for me before playing. Over-the-top and brutal combat? Check. Multiple ways to approach levels? Check. Werewolves? Double-check.
Yep, it would seem that the ingredients were in place for it to offer an entertaining experience, which is something that Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood can really deliver when it puts you in the midst of the action. Unfortunately, some of the other elements of its design can feel a little half-baked and lacking the nuances to help the game stand out amongst its AAA peers. It’s certainly not a bad game and it does have its standout moments, but it could do with a bit more work.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood’s tale kicks off with protagonist Cahal plotting with his allies to shift the evil Endron corporation from his land, though things go a bit pear-shaped when his wife dies during the mission and he finds himself turning against his friends in a fit of rage. Upon coming to his senses, he realises that he’s a danger to those around him and heads into a self-imposed five-year exile, albeit one where he still works with others to try stopping Endron. Of course, his path ends up crossing with his former allies once more and he learns that his daughter has actually been kidnapped by Endron, giving him even more incentive to take them down.
The narrative doesn’t do anything too exciting really, though there’s a fair bit of lore going on behind the scenes that revolves around three gods (The Weaver, The Wyld, and The Wyrm) and their role in sculpting Gaia and the events that occur on the planet. The fact that the game is based on a tabletop RPG might see some players taking an extra interest in the narrative too, especially since it adapts a lot of the principles that are used there as far as its world-building is concerned.
To the average gamer, though? You probably shouldn’t expect too much from this tale of revenge and redemption.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood’s gameplay sees players sending Cahal through an array of different locales as he looks to bring down the Endron corporation and save his daughter, with most of these taking on the form of facilities that you can either try your best to sneak through or leave painted with the blood of your enemies when you go on a murderous rampage. See, Cahal has three forms he can embrace throughout gameplay: his human form, his wolf form, and his werewolf form.
Cahal’s human form is best used when sneaking around or interacting with the various pieces of technology scattered across each level. Need to disable a camera or open an electronically locked door? You’ll only be able to do this as Cahal, whilst he’s also able to take out unsuspecting enemies from behind and unleash some ranged attacks by using his crossbow.
The wolf form is also stealth-based, with Cahal able to run around quickly and sneak through smaller areas of each level. Whilst actions are limited as the wolf, the fact that you can always turn back into your human form with a quick button-press means that it’s useful when trying to get out of the way of enemy detection or if you want to get to a hard to reach terminal.
Of course, it’s Cahal’s werewolf form that is the most interesting (and powerful) in the game. There’s no discretion involved when you’re a raging werewolf, but rather brutal combos of quick, powerful, and jumping attacks that’ll see you making mincemeat of your foes.
I’ve got to admit, I REALLY liked Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood’s combat. Don’t get me wrong, it lacked the refinement and variety seen in more prolific action titles, but there was something so satisfying about mashing combos together and making a bloody mess of any enemies in your path. You build up a rage meter as you kill more foes which gives you access to special attacks, whilst the fact you can switch between both an agile and powerful stance shows that there’s an element of strategy to be found in each encounter.
Enemies are at their most dangerous when you’re in werewolf form too, with the likes of ranged foes and the more powerful mechs causing a lot of hurt if you don’t dodge out of the way of their attacks. Interestingly, they’ll also use silver-based ammunition on you at times, which will take a chunk out of your health bar for the rest of that encounter. Admittedly, this shouldn’t matter too much because Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood isn’t really a difficult game by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s nice to see that there’s some form of resistance to try and quell your bloodlust in battle.
Whilst taking a stealthy approach via Cahal’s human and wolf form can be viable in the game, it probably won’t take you too long in levels before something goes wrong and you end up going on a murderous rampage as a werewolf instead. It’s not that the enemy AI is so smart that they’ll always catch you out or that the game is overly difficult; there are just too many situations throughout levels where it feels easier to just kill every enemy in a merciless fashion as opposed to trying to sneak by them.
There were moments where you simply HAD to embrace your werewolf form and kill enemies in order to progress anyway, with the stealth actions you performed up to that point nullified by the incoming reinforcements that are inevitably called. It could just make some of the stealth mechanics feel a bit redundant and unnecessary, outside of disabling a few of the defensive units that enemies have set up.
It’s hard to complain too much because Cahal’s werewolf form offers the most fun in Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood, but it can show a lack of depth. I expected a sense of freedom and flexibility in my approach, but instead a routine came into place where I would do a lot of the same things over and over again (which typically resulted in going on a killing spree by the end). It doesn’t help that the level design itself didn’t feel all that imaginative either, with not much found to differentiate the objectives you’re given.
It’s a bit of a shame, but it’s not enough of a problem to make Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood feel like a bad game. It took me roughly ten-hours to beat it and I never grew bored during that time, even IF it doesn’t feel quite as good as similar titles in the genre. Between the brutally satisfying combat, the moments where stealth did prove to be a worthy endeavour, and the upgrade system that allows you to refine your skillset, there’s just about enough going on to keep players invested in Cahal’s journey.
I’d be remiss not to mention that it’s not the best-looking game that you’re going to play on your PlayStation 5, with everything about Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood looking very last-gen in design. Whilst this is a bit understandable given the fact that it also released on the PlayStation 4, some of the environments and character models look a bit sketchy even by those standards… it’s definitely not the prettiest of releases to show off what the PlayStation 5 is capable of. At least it performs well though, with the consistent 60fps frame rate ensuring that the action remains smooth throughout, even if everything else about it is a bit bland.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood offers some brutally satisfying combat, but everything else in-between feels a little half-baked. It’s not that any of it is bad, but the stealth mechanics are inconsistently utilised, the level design can lack variety, whilst the visuals feel very dated – especially by PlayStation 5 standards.
Despite this, I did enjoy my time playing through the game with the murderous rampages offered in Cahal’s werewolf form offering enough to make the ten-hour adventure worthwhile. Players might just want to keep their expectations in check if they were hoping for an adventure that really embraced a blend of stealthily sneaking around and all-out action fruitfully.
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC