A stylish black-and-white aesthetic, strategic mech battling, a storyline featuring a bunch of cool but weird dudes, and a slick vibe that seemed to blend old-school manga with No More Heroes… there’s a lot about Wolfstride that appealed to me from the moment I set eyes on it. And you know what? It delivered exactly what I expected: a super fun adventure that never takes itself too seriously.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Wolfstride takes place in a world where mech battling is a big, big thing, so much so that there’s an elite tournament based around it: the Ultimate Golden God Tournament (sounds like something Always Sunny’s Dennis Reynolds might be interested in). Taking on the role of the cool but cocky Dominic Shade, you lead your little gang of former criminals through this tournament, with the hope that your mech (known as the Cowboy) will be strong enough to crown you the champions. With pilot Knife Leopard and the anthropomorphic mechanic Duque by your side, there’s no way you can fail, right?
There are plenty of other characters that’ll join you along the way, with each bringing their own unique (and undeniably bizarre) flair to the team, whilst there’s also a deep underlying narrative that’ll see you learn more about the gang and their history. Whilst it’s easy to see Wolfstride’s story as a rags-to-riches affair, there’s so much more to each character, what they’ve gone through, and who they want to be. Don’t get me wrong, it never takes itself too seriously at all, but there’s a lot more to the tale than simply trying to win a mech tournament.
With some good writing full of silly jokes and some great voice acting though, it’s easy to get absorbed in the tale. Whilst Wolfstride’s narrative isn’t likely to win any awards any time soon, it brought more than enough fun and zany situations with its eclectic cast to keep me thoroughly entertained.
“Whilst it’s easy to see Wolfstride’s story as a rags-to-riches affair, there’s so much more to each character, what they’ve gone through, and who they want to be.”
When it comes to the gameplay, there’s a lot to talk about with Wolfstride. On my first impressions alone, I thought it’d be all about mech battling, with overworld exploration outside of it kept to a minimum. Well, I was wrong – whilst there’s still plenty of mech battling to be done, you’ll spend more of your time exploring the world, learning about your buddies, and completing odd jobs to earn the cash to make improvements to the Cowboy.
Firstly, the mech battling. Battles are turn-based and take place over a vertical grid that’s made up of seven tiles, with one mech starting on the left and one on the right. Whilst mechs are only able to move between a set amount of tiles per turn, there are certain tiles to land on that’ll reward you with buffs. It’s always ideal to land on those, but you’ve also got to consider the fact that you might be leaving yourself in range of an opponent’s attack, so it has an element of risk and reward. It’s very much like a tactical RPG in many ways, especially since it’s possible to knock back enemies and since certain attacks come with a specific range of effect, but on a much simpler and smaller basis.
Each mech is made up of multiple parts that each have their own HP count: the head, the chest, and two arms. The chest is the most important part, because if that hits zero HP, the mech burns out and loses the battle. The head handles the aiming and lets you choose targets, whilst the arms can defend and dish out attacks. Naturally then, it can make your life easier to target the arms and head before the chest, if only to weaken your opponent’s attacking options; on the flip-side, there were plenty of battles where I simply targeted the chest from the get-go and saw success, so either way can work. Of course, you’ve got to be just as wary as to where your opponent is targeting too, especially if they start disposing of your mech parts and leaving you vulnerable.
“Whilst I’ll admit that I did get guilty of following the same tried-and-tested tactics when I hit the last few battles of the game, the process of getting there brought with it hours of enjoyment as I indulged in some intense showdowns and carefully tinkered with the Cowboy’s capabilities.”
There’s quite a lot to consider in combat, with the varying strategies you can impose certainly making quite a difference. It’s possible to buy new mech parts that bring varying strengths and abilities too, giving you the chance to really cater the Cowboy for your style of play. With factors such as ammo cost, action points to perform attacks, nano fluid that’s tied to specific attacks, varied stances that bring specific benefits, and the revival of body parts at play too, there REALLY is a lot to tinker with to get the upper hand over your opponents.
I’ve probably made mech combat sound a bit intimidating there, but honestly, when you get going its quite straightforward. There’s a steady learning curve in place that covers the ins-and-outs of each mechanic, whilst it’s possible to train for battles in a virtual environment if you want to get practice in between story-progressing showdowns. The most important thing is that the combat is a LOT of fun, and I found myself eagerly anticipating each battle. Sure, there were a few difficulty spikes that came from nowhere in some battles, but it’s typically a satisfying and balanced system that rewards players who think their strategies through and take advantage of everything that battling offers. Whilst I’ll admit that I did get guilty of following the same tried-and-tested tactics when I hit the last few battles of the game, the process of getting there brought with it hours of enjoyment as I indulged in some intense showdowns and carefully tinkered with the Cowboy’s capabilities.
When outside of combat, you’re able to explore a variety of locales across Rain City, interact with its inhabitants to learn new story details, and complete odd jobs to earn a bit of extra cash on the side. Those jobs take on the form of mini-games, with a neat little selection available that vary from bathing cats to making deliveries on a bike (so yeah, they can be weird). They’re easy to complete and can get a little bit repetitive if you play them too much, but they’re a decent enough means to earn cash to get those new mech parts in.
Check out some screenshots down below:
I did enjoy these sections of Wolfstride, especially when they pushed the story forward, but the limited selection of places you visit did see me tire of seeing the same old things over and over again. There isn’t a massive world to explore and after a few hours of play, you’ll pretty much know your way around everywhere. It doesn’t make the game bad at all, especially since some of the game’s best story-driven moments take place outside of the mech battling, but I couldn’t help but to wish that exploration offered a little something extra to make it feel more varied and expansive – especially since it plays such a big role in your overall progression through the game.
One thing I will give Wolfstride plenty of praise for is its visuals, which change up in style depending on what you’re doing. When you’re exploring the world, it’s your typical old-school style pixel art, albeit with a cool black-and-white aesthetic. Everything looks good in fairness, though there’s nothing TOO spectacular that stands out. The mech battling on the other hand is super slick, with some stylish animated illustrations making up the mech and character designs. It looks like something that has been pulled straight out of a manga, and honestly, it all looks fantastic in-game.
My one big complaint? You can’t change up the appearance of Cowboy. Maybe I’m nit-picking, maybe it isn’t a big deal, but it seems crazy to me that you can customise it with countless new parts, weapons, and upgrades, but you can’t change the appearance. It doesn’t affect the gameplay, sure, but if you give me a giant mech, I’m going to WANT to make it look as cool as I possibly can.
Wolfstride is one of those games that has a SUPER cool vibe, but also backs it up with some fun gameplay and a kooky story to follow. I loved the mech battling and constantly changing up my strategy, whilst exploring the world and learning more about the characters always felt rewarding. Sure, it would have been nice if there was a bit more to see of Rain City, but there’s enough on offer to ensure your trips across it are worthwhile.
Add to that the slick visuals and it’s clear that Wolfstride really does have a lot going for it. I had a really good time playing through its anarchic adventure, and whilst it does have a few little things it could improve upon, everything else is of a high quality.
Developer: Ota Imon Studios
Publisher: Raw Fury
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC