Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood (Earthblood from now on) is an action-role playing game set in the World of darkness universe. Transform with us and sniff out if this game lets you live your werewolf fantasies.
TLDR: Would I recommend this game?
If you are a fan of the Werewolf: The Apocalypse you will have a lot more feel with the characters and setting. Fighting the corruption to help maintain the balance of nature, Gaia and taking revenge along the way. While also on the rescue for your kidnapped daughter.
Or if you are looking for a casual laid back experience with a straightforward story.
If you are unfamiliar with Werewolf: The Apocalypse or the World of Darkness setting. The story will not be as intriguing without the wider background. Or if you are looking for a deeper RPG experience more like Call of Cthulhu.
The dark world of Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood
World of Darkness is a series of tabletop role-playing games originally created by White Wolf Publishing. But most people will be most familiar with Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Based on the Vampire: The Masquerade tabletop RPG.
Earthblood is based on the Werewolf: The Apocalypse tabletop RPG.
The role of the Werewolf, or Garou, is to maintain the balance of nature on behalf of Gaia. Fighting against spirits corrupted by the Wyrm and trying to prevent further environmental damage brought forth by corporations and warfare. Beset on all sides, the Garou fight a losing battle against the forthcoming apocalypse.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines was praised for its strong writing while having technical flaws, but nonetheless the game was received well . We are all looking forward to the predecessor Bloodlines 2 (which has been delayed). Does Earthblood live up to the same standards?
Story of Earthblood (spoilers)
You play as Cahal Filin, a Garou, part of the Tarker’s Mill Caern (pack of Garou) led by Rodko. Fighting against the Endron Corporation that has been polluting and destroying the area. With the help of Ludmilla, your wife, an expert at infiltrating facilities. Aedana, your daughter, and Ava, the leader of Lamda Mankind, is a tech expert and hacker helping the Caern.
After the briefing for the upcoming mission, Ludmilla infiltrates the Endron to help prepare things for the oncoming attack. Things go sideways fast when an Endron exec visits the facility and the plan falls to pieces.
You sneak or fight your way through the facility; only to discover Ludmila has been captured by a Black Spiral Dancer Garou. The game doesn’t explain this, but the Black Spiral Dancers are Garou serving the Wyrm. The Black Spiral Dancer kills Ludmilla in front of Cahal’s eyes and he gives in to his rage, attacking Rodko. Rafeeq, another Caern member, defends Rodko and Cahal kills him in a fit of rage. Overcome by the shock of killing a fellow Caern member, Cahal comes to his senses. Rodko and Cahal escape and that’s how the intro ends.
We continue five years later, Cahal has left the Caern and is working solo. Working as a mercenary for eco-terrorist groups to further his cause of protecting Gaia.
To my surprise he left his daughter and Caern behind. It seems like a selfish step to leave your own daughter and her grief in the hands of Rodko.
The story progresses along the same path of loss and rage you see in the intro. Rodko dies not far into the story and Aedana gets captured by Endron. You travel to several locations with your one goal to get Aedana back. Coping with the loss of your Caern; this becomes a revenge story for the death of your wife and friends alongside a rescue mission.
All in all
I’m not a fan of the rescue of a family member in games. The main story in Fallout 4 was all about saving your son and it wasn’t really that motivating for me. Same with Earthblood, you get some conversation with Aedana and they try to make you care about her. But you up and left her after the prologue.
Dusk is the character I like the most. He seems to care about Cahal even though he claims he’s just in it for hard cash. He has some good lines and actually shows up in a mission to help you out. You get some tangible interaction with him there. He helps you pursue some leads and ideas on how to tackle the challenges there. But when he dies, it’s off-screen, you just get a message from Ava that he didn’t make it and that’s it. There could have been more, it’s a missed opportunity.
The biggest plot twist is spoiled in one of the trailers. So when you see Pachu’a you immediately know not to trust anything he says. Especially moving forward with Onawa and her Caern, because in one of the Earthblood trailers, you see snippets of Cahal in combat with Pachu’a.
At the end of the story and after finding your daughter, you are left with a choice. This is the first and only choice which can change the outcome of the story. You choose (Help) and Ava and Lambda Mankind survive, or Revenge and kill Wadkins, the president of Endron.
I choose revenge because it seems like the most fitting option for Cahal. And I didn’t really bond with Ava. Giving in to his primal rage and taking it out on the man that caused so much pain and suffering to Cahal and Gaia feels like the right option.
Fur what it’s worth.
If the story was more driven about the spirits and the spirit guardians, going deeper in the lore that Werewolf: The Apocalypse has to offer I would enjoy it more. Earthblood will appeal to a broader public with its current narrative and not only the ones that know the lore.
Several mechanics are at play when tackling the levels in Earthblood; mainly stealth and combat.
When interacting with other characters, Earthblood uses a radial menu. Like that of Call of Cthulhu, with multiple choices or topics of conversation.
And there is an exp system called spirit points with corresponding skill trees.
In general my biggest gripe is the camera. You have to manually control it all the time while moving and attacking in the fast paced combat. It could get stuck in the environment and you missed some of the action or takedowns.
Lupus is your main stealth form. You can also sneak in Homid form but it’s a lot slower to get around. In both forms you can use Penumbra vision. It lets you peer into the spirit world and see life forms through walls; as well as spirits only visible to those with a connection to the spirit world. It helps you plan ahead on how to tackle the next room. You see the electrical
currents running from doors, turrets, cameras and sabotage points. This makes it easy for you to hunt down the terminal. You can shut off any cameras in your way, open doors and sabotage entry points for when things go haywire.
Most of the rooms can be traversed completely in stealth mode without alerting the enemies or engaging in combat. While some rooms have an elite posted at the exit door; forcing you to fight him and his reinforcements because you can’t do a stealth take-down on bigger enemies.
There isn’t that much of a challenge to most of the rooms. Using your penumbra vision to spot the terminal, getting to it through the vents or sneaking along the walls. Opening the lock on the door and turning off the cameras and running through it towards the door. Some rooms can even be rushed. When enemies spot you, and you manage to exit the room they forget about you. The AI doesn’t exit its pre-designated room.
If you enter a room and you notice that there is a fight happening no matter what; it’s as simple as searching for the electric boxes of the reinforcement rooms and sabotaging them. All enemies that exit through a door connected to that box will be damaged. Making the fight easier, at least in the first half of the game, more on that in the combat section.
When you get detected, or choose to abandon stealth and just fight your way through the game; Cahal transforms into Crinos form. A huge beast with gigantic claws and 3 combat stances. Agile, Heavy and Frenzy. Earthblood is about switching between your 2 main stances, Agile and Heavy, so they say. But actually most of the time Heavy felt best because of the damage reduction. Especially on bosses or heavier enemies. Agile was only useful to build up rage quickly or dodge the insane amount of AOE Earthblood can throw at you.
Hack and slash your way up the corporate ladder
The combat is fast and the blood effects are brutal. While fighting and dodging you totally obliterate the room you fight in. There is a ton of destructible furniture and machines that all perish during the fight. Hitting enemies will splash the floor and walls with blood and viscera leaving gruesome scenes when the fighting is over. There are no dismemberments or decapitations though. Not even when you execute the last enemy in the room, the animation is just the ragdoll body and some blood as you rip its throat.
The power feel is right there when you start the game. You go through packs of enemies like a hot knife through butter. Thinning the horde before going for the special units, who require some timed dodges before going through them with your claws. When you fill up the frenzy bar and activate Rage mode the fun only gets better. You now have the agility of Agile stance and the damage from Heavy. Tendrils surround Cahal as he is touched by the Wyrm, and you dance through the room slicing everything in your path.
Until you get to the second part of the game and you encounter the Fomori. Wyrm infected humans that either transform when you engage them or transform after you kill them.
Not only do the enemies have more HP at this point at the game, requiring more attacks and taking longer to put down, but they now transform into even stronger versions.
You lose that feeling of being a powerful Garou; after killing an already heavier enemy you get to fight an even stronger and sometimes annoying version. I noticed some fights are massive AOE spams from the specialized Fomori forms or being stunlocked by certain attacks.
Forcing you to play stealth to sabotage doors before having to fight this room, so it can be a little easier.
Sights and Sounds of Earthblood (Xbox one X version)
The problem right now is that games release on the next gen consoles as well as the previous gen. Like many of you, even I can’t get my hands on a Xbox Series X due to the chipset shortages. So my experience is based on the Xbox one X version of Earthblood. Creating a game for console is an already arduous task, it’s even more difficult to create and optimise a game for all different platforms (eg: Cyberpunk).
The graphics are outdated and the animations feel really stiff in cutscenes. They don’t really immerse you. Sometimes, certain movements are just hilarious to watch (looking at you Dusk with your weird hand movement).
There is a considerable improvement on the Series S/X as I have seen from the screenshots by another member of the team. But they don’t take full advantage of the powerful cards in the console.
The voice acting lacks emotion for most of the conversation dialog, feeling a bit bland. Or just not enough intonation to make certain points stick out.
The beauty lies within…
Combat, really the combat graphics, are something totally else. The effects on attacks, your morphs, specials are all amazing. The models of the Fomori are so unique and weird that it’s a pity you can’t take a closer look during combat or in a bestiary.
The special attacks of some of these enemies give off that wow vibe that make them feel otherworldly and powerful, really like beings from out of this world. The Fomori models are just on point and well done.
The combat music is a lot better. The metal tracks fit with the brutal fighting style and carnage. You will bang your head while smashing the buttons of your controller. It’s a great fit for the game and I’m glad to see Alien Weaponry – Kai Tangata in the opening menu, a very solid choice that fits Earthblood.
If you are unfamiliar with World of Darkness or Werewolf: The apocalypse lore you might want to read up a bit. The story comes very basic and the magic will get lost on you without it. You’ll likely only be frustrated about the technical shortcomings.
If you know and love the World of Darkness or Werewolf: The Apocalypse lore you will have a blast with Earthblood.
The difficulty is not that high to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole playthrough. It’s perfect for after a hard day at work where you want to relax and slice through some enemies. For the first part of the game at least. It took me 10 hours to complete the main story and some of the sidequests so you won’t need weeks to finish it either. A 39.98€ price for only 10 hours of story is kinda steep but if you like short story single player games, you should go for it.
Special thanks to AVE tech for supplying us with a review code for Werewolf: The apocalypse – Earthblood.