The World of Darkness role-playing game, like many others, is full of interesting traditions and mechanisms ripe for adaptation in a video game. With werewolves and vampires galore, and other things that haunt the night, it’s a wonder we haven’t seen more games in this universe.
While Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines is a classic that is finally getting a sequel, Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood finally pays some attention to the wolves. Developed by Cyanide Studios, the developer has always stayed true to its original material, but has it managed to achieve the ambitious goals set with this title, or are this wolf’s teeth duller than they should be? Well, let’s see.
A game full of interesting ideas that fall flat without their true potential.
Werewolf: Apocalypse – Earthblood makes a very strong first impression. The first computer-generated scenes and the introduction to the game’s world have a very big budget and the art direction is excellent.
In this world, Gaia (Mother Earth) is dying. Three primary forces have affected the world since the beginning of time: the Savage, the Weaver, and the Wyrm. As you can imagine, the Savage encompasses natural things, while the Weaver encompasses humanity’s technology, science, and industry.
It’s Wyrm you need to worry about. In Werewolf: Apocalypse – Earthblood, it was Wyrm who infiltrated a company called Endron, which poses one of the greatest threats to Gaia and nature itself.
The story quickly sets things right (pun intended) by focusing on a Garu (werewolf) named Kahal and his Fianna tribe in the Pacific Northwest.
The game wastes no time in preparing for Kahal’s exile, which results from his loss of control during the opening mission. He moves away from his daughter and does not return until five years later, when he learns that Endron is about to attack his former tribe.
With this staging, “Werewolf: Apocalypse – Earthblood” holds the middle ground between a clearly global threat and a more focused story of Cahal trying to reconnect with her daughter and save her tribe.
He is a good director who interested me from the beginning. But as the story progresses, it keeps hinting at more important things, only to keep disappointing you.
Thus, you spend most of the game in the territory of the Fianna tribe, which acts as a discrete world center, protected by a forest spirit that rules the tribe. You interact with another tribe, and even when things get interesting, it all ends too quickly and the other tribes are completely excluded from the game.
Endron is also barely touched upon as a company, aside from the fact that they are the obvious bad guys. The CEO of the company is a particularly underdeveloped bad guy. The other villain from the first game, who wreaks havoc in his ex-suit, is more interesting, but he too gets no development.
Kahal and his tribe are better, but not by much. The game includes elements such as branching dialogue and free-to-play answers, but these are used sparingly. Collected documents provide additional insight into characters like Ava and Kahal’s daughter, but for most of the game, it’s the same for everyone.
The voice acting is very poor, especially in the beginning, which takes the emotion out of some scenes. Over time it gets better, but the story moves so quickly from one point to another in the plot that I never really connect with the characters.
Multiple endings are an offshoot of the last game solution, but if you reload your backup game, you won’t be able to see another ending without restarting the level.
It’s difficult because you’re really thinking about and concerned with the way the world works. Cyanide Studios also released Call of Cthulhu, which I also enjoyed, but which suffered from the same problems. The studio does its best to adapt existing worlds and traditions, but doesn’t always succeed in exploiting the potential of the source material, making the story seem too shallow when much more could have been done.
For example, bringing more tribes together, better understanding how Wyrm infiltrated Endron, and even letting a bad guy be more than a stereotypical CEO would go a long way to enriching an experience that lasts between 6 and 10 hours.
There are side missions, but only a few in the entire game, and they don’t add as much to the story as they could.
In the end, it seems that Kahal’s story could and should have had a lot more meat on its bones. It was engaging enough for me to keep playing, but it left me unsatisfied when the credits came. I kept going, hoping things would slow down, open up, or at least offer more depth, but they never did.
Now let’s move on to the gameplay: Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood is a combination of stealth, action and RPG elements that remain on the surface throughout the adventure.
You can switch from one to the other at will, Homer (human) and Wolf (normal wolf). The human form is the one that can launch sneak attacks, sabotage enemy gates, and shoot crossbows to take out targets from a distance.
The Lupus form is good for sneaking around, and becomes even more viable if you buy a skill that makes you harder to see. I had a few instances where enemies could see me through a solid wall, but that didn’t happen very often.
The third form, Krinos, is the true form of metamorphosis for which you are all here. This form can be activated when you are in close proximity to enemies, and remains in effect until you have killed all the enemies in the vicinity.
With this form you have access to two positions, one of which is agile and fast, while the other is slow and does more damage. Each has special abilities that you can unlock and use through the rage bar below your health. One particularly useful skill is the ability to spend mana to immediately restore health.
So, you’re probably wondering why you need Stealth when you can become a wolf at any time. There are many reasons for this. First, by sneaking around and using items like vials, you can build up rage before you transform, giving you more reserve to work with when the fight starts. This is very useful for later battles with other enemies on screen.
The combat itself, though full of action, destruction and tons of blood, quickly becomes quite repetitive. Your skills get richer as you level up and get more spirit points to spend in a skill tree that is admittedly small (compared to most RPGs).
The quest allows you to find various plants that increase your spirit points, but even with a wide range of skills and gameplay modifications, combat comes down to chewing up what you want.
During fights you also amass rage, which is a separate indicator. This allows you to switch to berserk mode and use both positions simultaneously. The downside is that you cannot use an ability or heal until the rage disappears.
The mechanism itself is a solid foundation, but it doesn’t carry the whole game. In particular, anger seems to be something you don’t want to fill in (because otherwise it becomes a bad moment). That would fit well with the story of Kahal’s self-imposed exile.
I’ve also heard that anger should only be used sparingly in the game, and is even frowned upon because it can encourage Wyrm corruption in the larger world of darkness. Visually, Kahal appears inferior to Wyrm when he uses this ability, but this is never mentioned in the story.
Speaking of Wyrm, the enemies and environments in Werewolf: Apocalypse – Earthblood are also very repetitive, with a little bit of variety only towards the end. The missions are almost always the same, going from one industrial warehouse to another with the occasional office or server room to spice things up.
Similarly, enemies always come out through the same orange gates (which you can sabotage before battle so that the enemies do damage when they appear). The layout of the rooms varies, of course, but the actual sight is essentially the same.
Enemies get some much-needed variety in the second half of the game, and although the prison mission midway through the game shakes up the mission structure, nothing changes during the adventure except a few new skills as you progress.
The stealth was also so stealthy that I had the impression that much of the room was only used to light up the herd and sabotage the gates or deactivate the turrets while I had to fight the others. Given the repetitive nature of combat, I actually enjoyed choosing stealth when I could.
The problem is that with stealth you can’t move enemies’ bodies, and with bribes and the crossbow as your only options, there aren’t many ways to handle situations.
Despite everything, I really enjoyed my stay with Werewolf: Apocalypse – Earthblood. There are bright spots in what works on the plot, and while the combat is subtle, it’s certainly engaging to find it in short bursts. Stealth, though incredibly simple, also adds spice to the story.
The problem is that it all seems to need to go much deeper. More skills, a third position in combat, real combos, more types of enemies and even more interesting and exciting boss fights would have helped a lot.
There is potential for a truly great world of gritty Garou-centric RPGs, but Werewolf: Apocalypse – Earthblood fails in almost every area to live up to its potential.
Rock-solid performance matches outdated display
Playing Werewolf: Apocalypse – Earthblood on PS5 is a mix of graphical genres, but the performance itself is an absolutely rock-solid 60FPS, even during the most chaotic battles with lots of enemies on screen and blood flying everywhere.
DualSense integration is minimal, but with the occasional crash at the end, the game is pretty decent in terms of performance. Graphically, the game has some strong points, such as excellent animations when switching from one form to another, but it suffers from repetitive environments and really outdated character models (especially when the camera zooms in).
The soundtrack may not be for everyone, but I love a good metal/rock song. The main menu and theme song are particularly well done. It doesn’t have a big impact on the gameplay, but it fits well enough with what’s happening on the screen for me to enjoy it.
Werewolf: Apocalypse – Earthblood is a game that I enjoyed playing. It made me want to look for other games in this universe and maybe even try it on the table.
As a game, it has a solid foundation, but it leaves too much potential to justify the almost full price. It’s not broken, and it’s not necessarily a bad game, but what really hurts is that it could have been so much more.
Final Score: 6.5/10
Article written by – Bradley
RamseyDate of publication – 2/4/20