Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood first showed up on our radar as nothing more than some concept artwork and a quick chat with developer Cyanide Studio at the 2018 Le What’s Next De Focus event. Three years later, the game has launched, but does it do this World of Darkness series justice? Read our Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood PS5 review to find out.
Werewolf The Apocalypse Earthblood PS5 Review – Not a Looker
If you told me Werewolf was a PS3 game, I might believe you. There is no easy way to say this, but Werewolf isn’t a good-looking game by any stretch of the imagination. Bland character models, limited animations, and low-quality environment textures combine with heavy asset reuse to create a wholly forgettable world. The Unreal Engine runs behind the scenes, and that at least ensures a high frame rate. But honestly, I doubt the PS3 would even have many issues running Werewolf at a high frame rate. The intro cinematic seems to be where a large chunk of budget went, because if the game looked as good as that trailer, then it would’ve at least been a very impressive-looking game. Instead, what we’re left with looks at least a decade behind the times. The PS5 version benefits from load times of a few seconds, but no other console-specific features are used.
Werewolf’s story as presented here is a heavy-handed tale of clans of Garou (or werewolves, as we humans know them) fighting against the evil multinational corporation, Endron, which is in reality controlled by the Wyrm, an evil being that serves as the polar opposite of Gaia, the spirit of the Earth. You know Endron is home to the bad guys because they have thousands of identical soldiers and big exo-suit powered enemies you have to face off against. A deeper story involving protagonist Cahal abandoning his clan and working to make amends almost delivers some real emotions, but this gets resolved too quickly and things return to “Gaia good, giant corporation powered by Wyrm bad” black-and-white blandness in no time. It’s a shame because the tabletop game this is based off of seems to have more depth to it, but you’d be hard-pressed to find that here. Expect to finish Werewolf in 8 to 12 hours, perhaps less time if you don’t bother with any stealth.
Werewolf The Apocalypse Earthblood PS5 Review – Ineffective Stealth
Yup, Werewolf includes stealth options. Cahal can freely transform between his Homid and Lupus forms, or human and wolf respectively. Despite the wolf form being rather large, Cahal is harder for enemies to detect while running around as Lupus. Each level has a handful of rooms for Cahal to either kill everyone in, or sneak through. Sneaking usually revolves around looking for vents for the Lupus form to crawl through, which inexplicably (and hilariously) appears to give this wolf a head-mounted flashlight so that the player can see where they’re going in first person. Standard white eye icons fill up over time as the player is detected, and if a positive sighting occurs then the area is locked down until either the player is killed, or all enemies are dead.
Here is where the first real cracks in Werewolf show up. See, when the player is identified, the NPC who spotted Cahal takes a few seconds to initiate an area shutdown. What’s supposed to happen is that the player will be shot and drop to the ground. This prompts a QTE where the player must mash the square button until they transform into the Crinos, or werewolf, form. If you’re spotted in the middle of a room, that’s what happens. But if you happen to be near an open door, then the second you step through the doorway that leads out of the room, the NPCs immediately stop being able to see you, even as the door stays wide open. Enemy animations are even cut off mid-stride as they change from pursuit to scanning mode. It’s completely immersion-breaking, if not mildly amusing to mess around with. Players can use this to their advantage and cause enemies to walk over to the doorway that they were spotted in and kill dope after dope to thin out the enemies’ numbers. But this feels unnecessary when the Crinos form is so overpowered.
Even at its starting level, Crinos is quite powerful. Taking out enemies causes a rage bar to fill up, which can be used for healing or offensive moves. Crinos has two stances, one built for agility and the other for power. A third frenzy mode can also be activated but is rarely used as it requires another bar to fill up. Most enemies can be taken out with just a few hits in either main stance. A few enemies are able to fire silver bullets, which takes away some of Crinos’ maximum health for the duration of the fight. Once all enemies in the room are killed, Cahal automatically transforms back into his Homid form, and all wounds are healed. The Crinos fights turn Werewolf into a mostly mindless button masher, and the general ease of combat renders the poor stealth mechanics moot. The ability to cancel out any move by pressing the dodge button is appreciated, though.
Werewolf The Apocalypse Earthblood PS5 Review – A Simple Game
A simple ability tree gives Cahal various perks by collecting experience points, which are awarded for completing missions in the linear campaign, secondary missions in that campaign, or by finding random plants and miniature figurines and communing with them while using the Penumbra ability, which is a way to see where enemies and interactive items can be found. The Penumbra ability cannot be used while moving, but is otherwise unlimited in duration. It helps somewhat in tracking enemies, though you cannot tag anyone to track them outside of this mode. It’s mostly just a crutch for those who are trying for a stealthy approach.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood has a good premise, but suffers from poor execution. If you’re looking for a game that allows you to live out the fantasy of being an overpowered werewolf and kill everyone around you in bloody fashion, Werewolf provides that, but only just. Unrewarding combat, dumber-than-a-doorknob AI, dated mechanics, and an uninspiring presentation mean that this is a tough recommendation at the launch MSRP of $49.99 US.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood review code provided by the publisher. Version 1.002 reviewed on a PS5. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.