Growing up I adored beat em up type games. It was all I played and while short I always found new ways to challenge myself, completing achievements that I made up in my mind. Needless to say the genre has a special place in my heart. Games such as Streets of Rage, Turtles in Time & Golden Axe (I could list games for days) had me glued in front of my screen, surely causing some sort of eye strain on me.
Enter Wulverblade – a game that brings you back to the hey days of beating the ever living crap out of waves of enemies. The good news is that Wulverblade is far from a carbon copy of any of these games. It takes the concepts that it was inspired by and takes them to a new level. All done with a deep historic storyline (something unlike I’ve ever seen in this genre) on top of unique and beautiful art.
Wulverblade is set during the Roman occupation of Britain in 120 AD. The characters you play are apart of a tribe of Northern Britons who want to destroy the rulers of Rome. Judging by what you’ll be doing to your enemies, they do a pretty good job at it. Every swing you take will result in a head or legs being cut off the enemies body. Which as a result will let you pick up the dismembered parts and throw it at the next guy
When starting the game you’ll be able to select from 1 of 3 characters. Brennus, Caradoc & Guinevere. Each one has their own traits and abilities. Brennus is you big brawler hulk type that is slow but extremely strong, Caradoc is the all around fighter that is evenly matched within all statistics & Guinevere is the fastest but also the weakest, regardless using her is great for large wave’s of enemies with a quantity over quality approach to attacking.
Unlike previous brawlers, Wulverblade doesn’t just limit you to constantly hitting the attack button. The combat system can be as deep or as simple as you would like it to be. You have the ability to block using the ‘A’ button (which is extremely handy and is highly recommended to use). You can also combine the shield ability with your run move which in turn will have you do a roll and end up on the other side of your enemy. This is great for the archers or heavy enemies that have huge weapons on them. By combining your attacks with jumping, block and shield rolling you open up the mechanics to whole new possibilities. Similar to old school games you have a special attack that you can unleash once per stage. By holding ZR and pressing either attack or jump you unleash the wolves of your tribe to end the lives of your enemies. Further more throughout your combat you will be building up your rage meter. Once full you can enter RAGE mode. Your attacks will cause more damage and you are invincible to any incoming damage.
It’s easy to look at this game and think there is nothing more to it than button mashing but if you keep that mindset you will be missing out on one of the best games in this genre. Strategies are needed. Thinking on the fly is a requirement. You cant just simply attack recklessly. You need to figure out what the best course of action is. Whether you leave the archer alone and focus on the heavy hitter or vise versa (my personal tactic is to take out anyone that can throw damage at me)
I personally played this as a solo experience being that I don’t have a 2nd player that could play with me. Growing up a lot of the time it was a solo experience so I’m used to the challenge of it. But I would say that this is designed with co-op in mind. If you can play it with a friend I recommend it however you will still have an absolute blast destroying on your own.
I touched on earlier in this review about the presentation of this game. It’s out of this world. Kudos to Michael Heald & the team at Fully Illustrated for the intense detail put into this game. The lore behind it was heavily researched over the cycle of the game’s development and it shows. Everything you read in this game is a real place and it includes real people from that time period. The audio is top notch. I played with headphones on and I constantly felt that I was in this battlefield. The battle crys and sounds of swords bashing against each other puts you into the game. The soundtrack is one that you will have ready to take on any horde of enemies. Graphically, the art direction is superb. It looks beautiful as a standstill image and looks even better when blown up on your TV in 1080p. I respect them for going in this art direction as it suits the setting and the characters so perfectly.
Simply put – if you have any love for beat em up’s or have a soft spot for them back in the day, you need to buy Wulverblade. It takes you back to everything those games did and more. Hands down it has the best story and lore ever done in one of these games and that’s thanks to the epic nature and the depth of history that has been poured into the story. Once done the story you have arcade mode – which is for people like me who just love adding challenge to an already amazing game. I can’t wait to play this side by side with a friend but by al means do not let that hold you back. You can destroy & dominate all your own, albeit it may be a bit tougher it’s still an exhilarating experience.