Indie Quickie: Blood of the Werewolf

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

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What is it? An old-school action-platformer with a dark atmosphere and storyline inspired by classic monster movies.

Who made it and where can you get it? It has been scientifically proven that this game was developed by Scientifically Proven. It’s available now on Steam and will be coming to consoles at some point. Normally the game sells for $9.99, but until May 24th the Steam version is on sale at a 90% discount. It can be yours for exactly one penny shy of a dollar if you hurry!

How much did we play? In two hours, I died 59 times on the way to clearing six (four main environments and two bosses) of the game’s 15 total stages, according to the level select menu. I also survived for 19 rooms in an attempt at Endless Challenge mode, and put in a good run on the Sewers level in Score Rush.

Any technical concerns or hardware requirements you should know about? As the game recommends in an opening splash screen, “Vanquishing hordes of monsters is best done with a gamepad.” Keyboard controls are supported (with key rebinding), but I followed the game’s instructions, and stuck with the platformer-friendly comfort of a controller. For a short stretch during one level a seam or tear flickered through the center of the background environment like a straight line of static on a TV, but it went away as suddenly as it appeared so I have no clue what it was. Other than that weird blip, performance has been smooth and glitch-free.

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Why should you play it?

    Blood of the Werewolf is an all-in-one throwback to console 2D platformers of old like Mega Man, Ghosts ‘n Goblins and the original Castlevania (this is not a “Metroidvania”) and classic movie monsters like Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde and Frankenstein. Yes, that means this game can be nightmarishly difficult. While lives are unlimited and level checkpoints come often enough to cut down on the tedium of dying and retrying, the fact remains that this game is not shy about its desire to kick your ass. When you’re not slaying mutant fishmen and rattweilers (half rat, half dog), you’re leaping across crumbling platforms placed over spikes or pools of toxic goo while avoiding fireballs or flying vampire bats, or navigating conveyor belts with crushers or electric shockers hovering above ready to smush or zap you if you fail to properly account for the direction of the conveyors’ spin. A modern health bar system makes clearing a lot of these hazards without loss of life fairly painless, but certain sections with insta-kill spikes or crushers can easily suck away a dozen or so lives in a matter of minutes. One such difficulty spike occurs at the end of the second level, where the stretch run involves free-falling down a zigzagging tunnel lined with horizontal smashers. I think I died at this part somewhere in the ballpark of 20-30 times. It was frustrating (not to the point of hair pulling or controller slamming, but still brutal), but in a way old-school masochistic gamers will find deeply fulfilling.

    Of course, the main twist to the game is the shapeshifting protagonist. You play as Selena, a rare living member of the Wolf Clan who is on a path of vengeance after seeing her husband killed and her son kidnapped. While indoors she appears as any regular human, and in this form she can climb ladders, do single-jumps, crouch under obstacles and projectiles, and shoot things with her trusty crossbow. However, when a level leads outside, the shining moonlight reveals her true werewolf form. As a werewolf she is more agile thanks to the ability to double-jump, she is more deadly thanks to vicious bite and claw attacks, and she is imbued with special Blood Powers that enable her to dash, cause ground slam shockwaves, or exchange blood energy (harvested by eating the beating hearts of fallen enemies) for health regeneration. The game isn’t designed to allow for manual shapeshifting, but the levels are well balanced around pre-determined transformation points. The levels are also home to a lot of devilishly placed collectibles and secret rooms containing ability upgrades which you probably won’t find the first time through.

    Regarding the game’s prowess as a platformer, the jump timing and response is tight and the overall control feel is very retro with things like pressure sensitive jump height/distance, full mid-air momentum adjustment, and a damage system that causes Selena to knock back and recover with a brief moment of invulnerability, which can actually work to your advantage in the right spots. Sure, getting knocked back can send Selena plummeting to death or back to the beginning of a tricky platform sequence, but in certain situations it can be used as a means to launch past a particular trap or enemy, a trick I’m sure speed runners have already figured out how to exploit. Frankly, the only disappointing part of the game for me so far has been the bosses. I was excited by the idea of facing off against iconic movie monsters, but compared to the rest of the game the battles against The Creature and Hyde were predictable pattern recognition cakewalks. For all my deaths, not a single one came during a boss fight. Hopefully the remaining three turn out to be more interesting.

Parting Thoughts: Blood of the Werewolf is one seriously wicked platformer that proudly measures up to its forebears. I’m mad at myself for putting off playing it for so long (it originally launched back in October of last year), but now that I’ve started I don’t want to put the controller down, even after suffering another couple dozen bloody deaths in a row. On the bright side, waiting until now means experiencing the game fresh at its absolute best. What initially kicked off the current 99-cent sale was a patch that brought the game up to version 2.0. In addition to some tweaks and polish to the gameplay, the update has added speed run leaderboards for the main levels as well as two other side modes, including a procedurally generated see-how-long-you-can-survive Endless Challenge, and a Score Rush which involves collecting crystals and killing enemies to add precious seconds to a ticking countdown clock. From what I’ve played, I am already sold on this game being worth a look at full price. For a buck, you’d be a fool to pass it up.

Disclosure: A free Steam key for Blood of the Werewolf was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s publisher.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!