Games like: Pandemonium, Wild 9, Viewtiful Joe
I never grow tired of 2D platformers. It’s one of those genres that I feel keeps getting better and better as they age. There are so many different types of platformers for every console and the indie scene is no stranger either. Developed by Scientifically Proven and released on October 28, 2013 (hey, right around Halloween), Blood of the Werewolf fits the bill where you play as Selena a loving mother, devoted wife… and a powerful werewolf. Sure, it may not make sense now, but take a simple yet emotional story as this one and prepare for some hard hitting, platform defining, all out monsters grudge match.
First time launching Blood of the Werewolf, I was presented with a bunch of error messages that either indicated files missing or corrupted data. Went for an uninstall and downloaded it again brought the game up and running. So after getting into the action, I started getting messages stating that the game was running too slow and requested me to drop my resolution. Now there really isn’t much to this game or at least that I can tell. Sure there’s 3D renderings and some great parallax scrolling being done, but is it all in real time? I can run Bioshock Infinite at full tilt without my machine batting an eye. So why does Blood of the Werewolf suffer? Are the resources being over utilized or misguided? It was a pain. Even dropping the game to the lowest graphical setting (800×600), the game still looks amazing. Anytime I have to go into the Options screen, something is wrong and I have to fix it. No one puts extra lives or more continues into the Options menu so there’s no reason to go there unless something is broken.
Can’t get enough of the “You should probably use a controller over the keyboard” messages at the beginning of most indie games and Blood of the Werewolf is no different. Having my gamepad on and ready to go before launching the game maps all of the corresponding buttons to their desired effect. You’ll be using the left analog stick to move Selena, the main protagonist. You’ve got your jump button and item switch buttons that are set to your bumpers. The right trigger will fire your crossbow and the right analog stick changes the arrow’s direction before firing. Controls feel pretty natural and are easy to figure out with or without a tutorial.
The game opens up to a gruesome tale of a lonely woman whose life and love has been taken from her. After the loss of her husband, (by tearing out his insides; the only way to go) her newborn child was taken as well. Bent on revenge to reunite her family back together (or at least what’s left of it), she journeys through the vast land searching and taking out anyone who stands in her way. Not only is she a master at platforming and proficient with a crossbow, but following the light of the moon, transforms her into a vicious werewolf ten times her normal size. Oh what a twist.
The first five minutes or so of gameplay are designated for learning the controls and the different gaming aspects of Blood of the Werewolf. You soon pick up the crossbow and learn how to use it by text boxes that float above the main viewing screen. It’s hard to get away without some sort of tutorial to the gameplay and using silent text boxes above the playing area doesn’t disrupt the normal game. You move both through the human form of Selena and her transformation into a werewolf. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to both forms: the crossbow provides a ranged attack that can be upgraded and her wolf form has the (dreaded) double jump allowing for higher exploration in the platforming. You can’t switch between either form on command so the platforming changes from human to werewolf. It’s a nice little twist to common platforming games, but in the end it feels more like two different games rather than just one.
Keeping track of your progress is much in the vain of Castlevania and Ghosts ’n Goblins. A horizontal representation of the world layout comes up with a skull that shows your progress. These levels can get pretty lengthy and the game uses this transition for more storytelling and plot development. Cut scenes can become a little winded if the story just doesn’t appeal to you. You can skip through these if you’d like, but watching and listening to the tormenting of a woman in search of her child is a feeling that I could never experience in my life (me being a dude and all), so I make sure to take special attention to them. But you may feel otherwise and the ability to skip over them is available for you.
The graphics are absolutely beautiful. Perfect 3D rendered images than bend and blend with the backgrounds from area to area. The levels are so radically different from one another. One you may be creeping through the trudges of a sewer dodging sludge as it drops in a particular pattern from the ceiling or out in the night sky, werewolf face covered in blood from your recent killing and the stars feel they go on for days. Tone is set by the dramatic lighting of each room and the music brings a sinister feel of Universal Monsters that was popular during the 1920s through the 1960s.
It’s not long into the game where the difficulty ramps up considerably. Environmental hazards and well placed enemies are around every turn and you get the sense of difficulty found in other platforming games that have made their name in this trend like Super Meat Boy or I Wanna Be the Guy. It’s so sudden that you’ll be in an controller throwing rage soon after the second level. Many of these hazards come from perfectly timed jumps or enemies waiting in the water below for you to make one misstep and then it attacks. One of the areas I had the most trouble with was the pillars that come from out of the walls together. Sure, there’s an indicator that shows when the walls are going to come crashing in and there were times that I missed it by a pixel and Selena suddenly jumped a few pixels up to clear the death beams. But often times I would be crushed. I think the reason I had such as issue with these first few hazards was because they came so sudden. It doesn’t ramp you up slowly to get you ready for the impending doom; it’s just there. Strange way to teach the player gameplay mechanics. But to those who are looking for a definite challenge will find all sorts with Blood of the Werewolf.
The boss battles bring an epic nature to the platforming. Most bosses have a very distinct pattern that, by not following it and taking your time with your attacks, will result in ultimate death. A true testament to gaming from the days of old. Sure it looks like a new game, possibly a release on the Playstation 2 or XBox 360, but Blood of the Werewolf will make anyone pay for trying to make haste. And rightfully so. The game pulls you along with simple jumps and enemy encounters then puts it into full gear baiting only those willing to challenge to continue.
On top of all that, every level is timed and you are rated on your performance at the end. I have only been good enough to bring about a “C” rating meaning I am mediocre much like in high school. My guess is that these ratings are based on the amount of damage taken, number of deaths, and the timeliness you finish the level in. Speed runners rejoice. To those who are into the style and platforming of Super Meat Boy, this will feed that need once the classics have become a bore to you.
Blood of the Werewolf is an extremely challenging, beautiful game that takes the aspects of a difficult platformer with a twist of playing as a human and a werewolf. A very emotional story sets the stage and tone with dark 3D rendered graphics and an eerie soundtrack. The difficulty curve steeps dramatically very early in the game and non-prepared gamers may start to look for something else after the quick time frame of multiple deaths. A littled unbalanced on the controls, but never the less fun game for any fan of hard platformers.
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