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WEREWOLF THE APOCALYPSE EARTHBLOOD – PlayStation 5
WEREWOLF THE APOCALYPSE EARTHBLOOD – PlayStation 5
For a horror series based around tabletop RPGs, World of Darkness’ shared supernatural universe is making serious inroads on PlayStation this year. Between Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife on PSVR and Vampire: The Masquerade’s two new entries – Swansong and Bloodlines 2 – Werewolf: The Apocalypse comes first via Earthblood. Developed by Cyanide Studio, this new entry retains that core mythology within a third-person action RPG, taking us to the American Northwest. Sadly, despite holding significant potential, it never truly takes off.
You play as Cahal, a Garou within the Tarker’s Mill tribe. Attempting to drive the oil producing Endron Company out of their territory, he succumbs to rage after his wife dies during a mission, killing a fellow tribe member and injuring their leader in his grief. Worried he won’t be able to control his rage, Cahal exiles himself from the pack, leaving his daughter Aedana behind. Five years later, having discovered Endron’s plan to attack his Caern, Cahal makes a return, forcing him to confront that incident and finish off Endron once and for all.
Your Caern is the tribe’s holy ground, based within Washington State Forest and protected by a Guardian Spirit, Yfen. Acting as your hub world for most of the game, you can restock supplies, speak with fellow tribe members, and explore the surrounding forest. Endron’s buildings are close by, so starting story missions means taking a quick walk. Side quests are also available through Yfen – like helping deceased spirits return to him or shutting down Endron drills – though there aren’t many going.
Within story missions, there comes a big focus on stealth, allowing Cahal to sneak through enemy hideouts undetected if you’re clever. As a Garou, Cahal can shift between three forms and these segments utilise two of them. Homid is his “human” appearance and the only one capable of using technology, letting you switch off surveillance cameras and unlock doors via the computers. Homid can also perform takedowns, killing Endron guards quietly without alerting others and also comes armed with a crossbow, which has limited arrows.
Lupus is your second form, transforming into a wolf to crawl through vents, reaching otherwise inaccessible areas. Both this and Homid can use Cahal’s Penumbra Vision, which lets him peer into the spirit world directly surrounding our physical world. It works similarly to a detective mode, showing us where electrical wires lead for obstacles and nearby enemies. This allows you to interact with spirits and some reside within objects. Releasing them fills your Spirit gauge, which we’ll come back to later on.
If stealth isn’t your thing, Cahal can become enraged in certain locations, tearing his way through enemy hideouts with almost no consequence to the story. Once you enrage, Cahal shifts into his Crinos form, a much more beastly transformation only available in combat situations. This also occurs if Cahal gets attacked while sneaking around, leaving players no choice. Once enraged, combat doesn’t end until every enemy is defeated. Crinos holds two different stances – Agile offers quicker movement but Heavy deals greater damage – and no matter your choice, you can quick attack with square, heavy attack via triangle, and dodge with circle.
Crinos also has a rage meter, which can be built up before combat with takedowns and drinkable flasks. Once the fight starts, it naturally increases when landing hits and once you’ve weakened an enemy significantly, Crinos can grab them, choosing to either throw them or outright execute them. Executions increase your rage meter further, allowing use of special moves like long-range jumping or healing. He also holds a separate fury meter and once filled, you can activate this to enter a temporary frenzy, dealing heavy damage but disabling special moves.
You’ll face various foes in your missions, starting with standard foot soldiers before leading to full on mechs. Prepared for the Tarker’s Mill threat, some units also carry silver bullets, which permanently reduce Crinos’ full health until that fight is finished. There’s good variety to them and this entertaining combat is easily Earthblood’s biggest draw, letting you quite literally rip apart Endron soldiers. Better yet, the game maintains a smooth performance during these segments, even with larger numbers. It can get repetitive if you enrage at every opportunity, but that also makes successful stealth feel rather rewarding.
Cahal’s abilities can also be improved via a Skill Tree, which covers tactical actions and combat. To do this, you need to obtain spirit points, earned by completing missions and finding spirits with Penumbra Vision. Using this offers improvements to your health restoration, the ability to electrocute enemy reinforcement gates, better crossbow accuracy, a larger rage meter, and more. There isn’t much to this system, just about covering what’s needed, but for a game calling itself an action RPG, this is honestly the only RPG element here.
Side quests are barely featured and even if you complete them all, you can reach the credits within 7 hours. Earthblood’s narrative suffers because of this, too, taking time to detail Werewolf’s core mythology but never meaningfully exploring it beyond the basics. Outside of some corrupted Black Spiral Dancers, we only dive into a separate tribe’s affairs once and most supporting cast members feel one dimensional. Few receive any real character development within this linear story, Cahal aside, and most decisions have no real impact. Upon reaching the conclusion, it just felt unsatisfying and there’s little replayability.
Looking at the final release, you can’t help but feel that Earthblood’s development was rushed. Whether that’s due to a lack of budget/time or both is unclear, but these production values aren’t especially high. The opening cinematic starts out strongly and it features some nice environmental work, but in-game character models just look outdated, particularly regarding facial animations as they speak.