I've waited for a new game from the World of Darkness universe with primal hunger, especially since the creators from Cyanide Studio announced the upcoming one would be an action RPG title. I also assumed that in the starting window of the next generation, one wouldn't dare to release something so extremely nightmarish, but, before starting my adventure with Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood, I had no clue how wrong I could be.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood really had a potential to be a decent title at the very least. The foundation of the gameplay is well thought-through, and it's hard to accept that the end result is a game that is at most bearable, and lacking in pretty much every aspect. So much so that it's difficult to even simply enjoy it, let alone feel a thrill while playing.
Considering that Cyanide's product attempted to carry on its back one of the most important parts of the World of Darkness universe, with the creators promised that they would manage to retain the source's narrative style: I fully expected to experience first-hand the pain of Garou fighting a lost cause. I was truly hoping to feel enslaved, tainted by the foulness of the Wyrm. I expected that even if I didn't get to win anything, I could at least count on a few hours of fun. Pity...
We play as a Cahal, one of the members of a werewolf pack, fighting desperately to save Gaia, or Mother Earth. Our main character not only looks like a typical ruffian, he's also rough and aggressive by nature, which is expectably reflected in plenty of dialogue choices available to him in his human form. I dare to say that even old Bethesda games offered less stiff conversation animations. Joking aside - this level of quality for a game on no less than ninth generation consoles is simply unbecoming. Especially, when developers boast about the title using PS5 and Xbox Series X's latest technological advancements.
Even if you ignore empty dialogue that adds absolutely nothing to the plot and is utterly unengaging, the game doesn't get any better. For example, in addition to his human form, Cahal can also take the form of a Crinos (a human-wolf hybrid), used mostly in open combat, and a Lupus (or simply just a wolf), great for silent infiltration of enemy bases. Out of all three options, I liked the Lupus stages the best - however, most locations aren't really stealth-ready, so you end up transforming into a Crinos anyway.
If only the stealth and combat elements had worked better... "If" being the key word here. It's difficult to treat the stealth stages seriously, when the wolf has to change into a human form every time to silently eliminate the enemy - because for some reason, someone decided that the beast was unable to do it. It's almost impossible to get satisfaction from combat when opponents pour out on the screen chaotically.
There would be nothing wrong with resorting to combat all the time, if it was at least done right. I remember having a lot of fun destroying everything in my path - in the Prototype series. In the case of Earthblood, it's hard to get carried away when the game is intent on making it as difficult as possible. A poor, wobbly camera, hard to read enemy reactions and ever-present chaos: that's the shortest, most accurate summary of all the battles in the game, including those with bosses.
In an attempt to diversify the title, developers introduced unnecessary development trees because - according to them - a game based on a textbook RPG requires it by default. That, in the end, turned out unsurprisingly bland; none of the ideas were refined in the slightest, which made the whole thing feel more like an overcooked leftover soup rather than a sensible, thoughtful and - most importantly - passionately crafted dish. You may not have expected a complex RPG (as is the case in the table-top version) but by cutting out a lot of unnecessary content, they could have focused on fewer and more important aspects, instead of mediocrity at large.
I've been skipping towards the new Cyanide Studio game like Little Red Riding Hood with her basket in hand. I was expecting the Wolf to jump out of bed, grab me and gobble me up, as was the case with the fairy tale but, sadly that wasn't what was delivered. I might have liked to stare at the huge eyes of Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood, if the nasty visuals hadn't burned my eyes out, I would pointed out the big ears, but the soundtrack made me cover mine instead, I would praise its sharp teeth if the gameplay didn't feel so dull. The newest gamification in the World of Darkness is forcefully trying to combine aspects of too many species; in the end turning out shallow and practically indigestible. Maybe someday, we'll find ourselves clawing at a game worthy of this universe, but not today, dear players, not today. Today, allow me to just close the story book on this one.
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