While the gaming industry is as technologically advanced as it has ever been, there are always gamers out there who clamor for the days of old. A time when finishing a game to completion was something only the most skilled of beings could pull off. Nowadays, they say, why can’t new releases be as challenging as the original Mega Man? While I enjoy the era of gaming we are currently in greatly, they do have a point in some regards.
Developers know this too, as indie titles such as Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV have been hits largely due to their unforgiving nature. Looking to also make a splash in the genre is Scientifically Proven’s Blood Of The Werewolf, which is part old-school platformer part homage to the Universal Monster pictures of the early 20th century.
As the werewolf Selena, players will venture through 10 different levels in search of not only her kidnapped child, but to also avenge the murder of her beloved husband. In order to accomplish her goal, she must defeat the assorted creatures that hang around each level while also dealing with a group of classic monsters including the likes of Dracula, Hyde and The Mummy.
At the center of it all is Dr. Frankenstein, who has kidnapped the child in order to breed an army of werewolves. While the plot is certainly a unique one and I always appreciate a good call-back to classic cinema, the story is hampered by lackluster voice acting and rushed pacing. Of the talent who lend their pipes to Blood Of The Werewolf, only Erin Cummings (who voices Selena) seems to be invested in her character, as everyone else either come across as bored (Dracula) or over-acted (Frankenstein).
Since Blood Of The Werewolf is heavily influenced by classic platforming titles, the gameplay is also relatively straightforward. Selena can shift between either her normal human form or her more powerful werewolf side, with each manifestation having its own advantages. As a human, our protagonist can shoot enemies from afar with a crossbow and can climb ladders, while her werewolf form can do massive damage up close and can jump higher and farther. While you can’t shift between the two at will, the title generally does a good job of mixing up the usage of the two.
While the more combat-oriented sections of Blood Of The Werewolf are generally solid, outside of the repetitive boss battles, going through the platforming areas of the game is when things get a little annoying. In truth, everything is fine during the early-goings of the game, as these sections are more defined by precise jumping and perfect timing than anything else.
As you venture further, though, Scientifically Proven throws more and more enemies into these sections, which makes overcoming these areas in particular more about luck than anything else. I know this may sound like sour grapes right now, but there is nothing fun about getting hit by an enemy and flung back five feet into a pit of blades for the millionth time in a row. There’s a fine line between being cheap and being hard and I’m not sure Scientifically Proven managed to walk it.
Graphically, Blood Of The Werewolf comes across as a little uneven at times, almost like Scientifically Proven wasn’t quite sure what mood they wanted to go for. Black and white title cards prior to each level seem to indicate that the game will have a look in line with the classic films it draws from, perhaps more gothic-y and macabre. However, when you get to the actual gameplay sections, the graphics are bright and crisp with a more comic book-esque look. Neither look is bad, mind you, but I do wish they had stuck with one consistent style all the way through.
Replayability is also a major issue with the title, as it only took around five hours for me to finish the main game and there’s not a whole lot else to do afterwards. Sure, you can venture back into each of the death trap levels of Blood Of The Werewolf and get pissed off all over again in order to reach a new high score or complete it in a faster time, but unless you’re a masochist, I don’t see the point in doing so. There’s also the Endless Challenge mode, which tasks you with making through a series of randomly generated rooms with limited lives. While it is fun due to the randomness of where you can end up, it also just feels like more of the same, cheapness and all.
When I first heard about the combination of old-school platforming and classic cinema monsters that Blood Of The Werewolf was bringing to the table, I was hoping it would be the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of gaming. Instead, it is more like the Ballast Point Habañero Sculpin IPA: a mixture of two things I love that never really comes together properly. The potential was there for the title to join the ranks of Super Meat Boy in the platforming pantheon of greatness, but problems of both small (voice acting) and large (overall cheapness) magnitude mar the experience.
This review was based off the Xbox 360 version of the title, which we were provided with.