By: Casey Curran
Blood of the Werewolf is one of the hardest games I’ve had to review. It actually does a lot of things well, or at least passably well. And yet there are many areas where the game really stumbles, and unfortunately these flaws, while few, hurt the rest of the game as a whole — a fact that’s especially disappointing since this game lets you play as a werewolf.
It is hard to critique Blood of the Werewolf in this department because the controls work for the most part. It has the usual issue with any side-scroller using right stick aiming where switching between aiming and jumping feels awkward. Yet outside of that, the game doesn’t have any controls that do not work. At the same time, however, they do a terrible job of making the game feel satisfying.
Shooting the crossbow is about the only element that has a decent visceral feel to it, and even that isn’t great. Meanwhile, melee attacks as the werewolf use a white claw or slash that just kind of moves through the enemy, which feels painfully unsatisfying. The payoff from hitting them looks and feels awkward, which sucks much of the fun out of melee combat.
Blood of the Werewolf has a clever art direction that makes great use of colors. This works well on the backgrounds, which are able to look colorful and dark at the same time. Unfortunately this is brought down by the character models, which are really bad. They look like they belong in an old Nintendo DS game that everyone forgot about two days after it came out. What’s even worse is that they clash horribly with the background to the point where they really distract and take away from the game’s visual merits.
Music sounds both gothic and exciting at the same time. It’s not on par with Castlevania, which the game reminds me of, but it gets the job done. Sound effects are very well done, as they really pop while doing a great job of mimicking the effect they are supposed to.
Blood of the Werewolf has you play as a woman named Selena that turns into a werewolf during a full moon. Throughout the journey she is running as a human inside certain areas until she moves into the great outdoors and turns into werewolf, destroying everything in her path. Both of these play styles feel radically different, with Selena’s human form being very vulnerable and slow paced in a manner similar to older Castlevania titles. Conversely, the werewolf sections are fast paced and are about feeling empowered.
Or at least they would if it weren’t for the control issues mentioned above. Attacking as the werewolf just isn’t satisfying, and when the purpose of those sections are to make the player feel empowered it severely hurts the experience. The boss battles as the werewolf are incredibly bad as well, featuring predictable attack patterns and enormous portions of health, making them feel tedious rather than challenging.
Selena’s human levels are a step up, yet still suffer from a few issues in the level design. Often the game will present a challenge that cannot be completed without trial and error (at best) or old fashioned luck (at worse). Thankfully, the game does not employ a life system, as this would make the game borderline unplayable. Enemies also have an annoying tendency of needing more shots than they should to take out, slowing the game to a halt so you can get enough hits on them. There’s still some good platforming challenge in these, but it is not enough to make up for its shortcomings.
Even as an indie title, Blood of the Werewolf feels more like a mini game than a full game. It would be a fun diversion in a full retail game. On its own, however, the graphics, controls, and mechanics make it feel unfinished. A good amount of variety keeps these flaws from ruining the experience, but the game fails to do enough to rise above mediocrity.