Wulverblade is an old-school action side-scrolling brawler that is set in 120AD Britannia. The Roman army has taken control of what we know today as Scotland and also the majority of Britain. The northern tribes have had enough of their land being taken and decide the time is right to fight back.
When you start the game the first thing you notice is the stunning visual style, from the opening cutscenes to the character and background models that are actually rendered in-game. It’s all exquisitely done, with a striking hand-drawn style that is beautifully colourful luring the eye towards the main characters. You are given the option of three different playable characters each with a unique skillset – Caradoc who is the all-around fighter, Brennus who is the strong fighter but less technical and Guinevere who is more technical but not as strong. My initial playthrough was done with Guinevere, who is a total badass.
The game starts out in the same way a million other side-scrollers have done before, a short tutorial giving an overview of the basic game mechanics after which you are pretty much left to fend for yourself. Our journey starts slightly north of where Aberdeen is today with your chosen warrior having to repel the northern tribes from the border. As progression is made you head further south and this is where the Romans get involved. They have setup annoying watchtowers for you to overcome and destroy, doing this one by one is key as not to alert the next closest fort. As for the gameplay, there isn’t much new but playing the game harks back to the classic side-scrolling brawlers like Golden Axe and Streets of Rage. I actually cannot wait for Streets of Rage 4 to be released, over the years I have become a massive fan of the side-scrolling brawler genre and that will definitely continue with this upcoming sequel.
The combat is fluid, fast and feels very weighty while you are fighting, you have the standard light and heavy attack options at your disposal. Wulverblade is a little different from the norm though as you only get to use the heavy attack when you find a suitable weapon that you can support this option. These weapons don’t last long either so don’t think you will be able to spam the heavy attack to win because you simply won’t. To help compensate for this the developers have included a handy little feature, a special power that summons a pack of wolves to attack the enemies. There is one more attack that the wolves perform but I won’t spoil that here as its story related.
I will warn you now, Wulverblade is no pushover and each boss fight is tough but will keep you going back in for more. You have to learn and master their attack patterns, weaknesses and exploit them as much as possible in a bid for victory.
Story-wise there were a couple of things that bugged me. The most prominent of which was that during every cutscene, for example, Guinevere is referred to as ‘He’ which I thought was a weird choice but I am sure that this is simply down to an oversight when programming the game as Caradoc is the main focus of the story. What I did really enjoy, and seems to be an area that hasn’t had much exploration in gaming, is that throughout the game there are little text elements that help fill in the historical aspects around what you are playing. So if you are a fan of history I am sure you will enjoy this as I did but ultimately I wanted more. Maybe after discovering pickups you get notes and even behind the scene videos that show the locations the team went to when scouting information for the game.
Overall I can’t praise this game enough, it gives a fresh spin on the genre taking inspiration from one of our less often explored pieces of history and mythology. The developers have done an amazing job bringing to life a stunningly beautiful game and across all modern formats. If you get a chance play Wulverblade please don’t skip it and miss out.
Beard Score: 9/10
Genre: Action, Adventure, Brawler
Release Date: 31/01/18
Players: Local Co-Op
Publisher Darkwind Media
Developer: Fully Illustrated and Darkwind Media
Platform: Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch