Some people just don’t have any luck. As though transforming into a hairy, blood-thirsty bipedal wolf every month isn’t a tad inconvenient, then someone has to come and murder your husband, burn down your gothic home, and take your son. Thankfully, the only thing between you and him is a series of impractically designed locations and the odd monster. Grab your crossbow, pack a few kibble in case you get hungry, and take your first step – it’s clobbering time.
Blood of the Werewolf is a love letter to the olden days platformers of your childhood. Although titles like Kid Chameleon, Shinobi, and Ghosts 'n Goblins are now long gone, fans of the genre will get some joy out of seeing this particular brand of insane jump puzzles and deadly enemies again. Start at the beginning of a level and then run, crawl, and double jump through to the end, where you’ll be rewarded with a little story progression and then another, slightly different level.
In that regard, this isn’t a game that especially stands out. It does very little that you won’t have seen before, probably better, and the monologues given between stages aren’t enough reward to keep you going through. It’s by no means bad, but at the same time seems to define itself almost entirely by being just like those games that we were playing twenty years ago. That’ll give it a very narrow player base, but thankfully one that probably already knows whether it’ll enjoy it or not.
If you grew up on those games mentioned above and are hungry for more, you could do much worse than this, although it won’t be converting anyone already exhausted by the deluge of retro-inspired indie platformers that have been released in recent months. It’s as simple as that.
You’ll play as Selena in both her human and werewolf forms. Step out into the moonlight and you’ll transition into a walking bad hair day. Human Selena uses her cross bow and tiny frame to jump between narrow ledges, while Werewolf Selena bites, bashes, and crashes her way through enemies and over obstacles. If you think that that’s impressive, Selena’s real magical power is the endless amount of dresses that she can instantly clothe herself in after turning back from her animal form, and the less said about how her digestive tract copes with eating all of those monsters, the better.
There’s a level of difficulty throughout that’ll test all but the most expert platformers. This isn’t an easy game by any means, although it’s not especially long either. Little bonuses – like dozens of in-game achievements – don’t quite stretch things as much as they might, and an average player won’t find any interest in playing more than they have to. With that said, the balance to the difficulty should definitely be mentioned: if you die, it’s your fault. Checkpoints are frequent and there’s no limit on the amount of lives that you can use, but that doesn’t mean that you’re going to have an easy time.
Bosses are taken straight out of old monster movies, and you can expect appearances from vampires, mummies, and ‘creatures’. This adds another layer of nostalgic charm, as you work your way through to the next cameo appearance. It’s a clever technique, although the rather serious speeches given by Selena between levels don’t really fit with the world; there should have been an element of campness to the whole thing, but it takes itself far too seriously.
Enemies will gradually get harder, but you’ll also unlock more and more techniques to use. There are quite a few upgrades to find for both Selenas, and some of them are rather well hidden. Still, they’re worth tracking down, as it’ll make combat that much easier. As would be expected from the genre, there are other collectables to hunt as well, mostly in the guise of coins, some of which are easier to find than others. If you’re desperate for 100 per cent completion, this adds another chunk of replayability, as you work out the best way to get to each coin.
Visually, the game is ok, but not fantastic. The animation looks a little unnatural at times, and the colours can be dull in places. There’s a decent amount of variety in the places that you’ll visit, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be assets that you’ll see over and over again, or that just effectively receive a palette swap. Considering the games that this is based upon, that probably isn’t a bad thing, but a longstanding tradition, and it’s not especially distracting. The music is unmemorable but decent enough while you’re playing, and the voice acting is passable, considering the script.
There are a few glitches that’ll need polishing out before the smoothness of the experience can be recommended, though; from the HUD disappearing after dying to the camera not following you into a new area, errors happen regularly and the only way to restore normal play is to restart the last checkpoint.
Blood of the Werewolf is a faithful throwback to the days where platforming was king, and it’s a challenge in and of itself as well. Even though it does all that well, it does little else to make it stand out. Maybe when Selena inevitably returns – hopefully after cleaning her teeth and popping a couple of indigestion pills – she’ll build upon this stable foundation.