Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blood of the Werewolf - "Impressions" (PS3)

I hate to do this to you readers, but I'm going to have to go the "impressions" route with this game. Not only does it look as if Sony implemented the timed trial review codes that I mentioned earlier but I will not be repeating the second stage one thousand times to see what's beyond it, nor will I ever be able to complete the game far past that stage in the timed limit. The fact is that there's a point when a developer's game design pushes the limits of difficulty decency. Making the game difficult just for the sake of making it difficult is not the way to go, period. Unfortunately that's exactly what the developer, "Scientifically Proven" chose to do in "Blood of the Werewolf". A lot of the level design within the game, and the accompanying character mechanics conflicted so much that it made the playthrough truly unbearable for me. Difficulty in that respect was geared solely towards a precisely performed playthrough that gave the player only one viable course of action that was damn near impossible to achieve a majority of the time ...

In "Blood of the Werewolf" you take on the role of a doting mother named Selena who just so happens to be a werewolf. She's not the horrific sort of wolfish creature you see in horror movies, but one that has firmly grounded roots with mother nature. Selena, and her husband who is also a werewolf by birth end up having a son of their own within the game's initial plot. Nikolai, who happens to be this son in turn inherits the same werewolf genes as his parents making him a target for werewolf skeptics like the rest of his kind. After bringing their son into the world Selena, and her husband realize they must flee from their homeland, and hide from those who would do them harm in the safety of America for the sake of their son. Even in this supposed safe haven though they are still hunted down like dogs, and eventually come face to face with the threat they have dreaded for so long. During an encounter with their trackers in their American home Selena's husband ends up getting mortally wounded in a gory sort of way, and Selena herself suffers some injuries of her own as well. On top of those unfortunate circumstances Selena's son Nikolai is also abducted by an unknown group of assailants who accompanied the attackers. It is in the aftermath of this grisly murder scene that Selena vows revenge on her husband's killers, and her son's abductors.

As Selena you will be traveling through various horror movie inspired environments which are laid out a lot like past Metroidvania style games in search of your son Nikolai. It's in these 2D environments that That you'll be using Selena's supernatural powers in the form of enhanced human capabilities as well as her werewolf form. As the human version of Selena you will be using an upgradable crossbow which you pick up early on in the tutorial portion of the game to kill off the otherworldly creatures that inhabit the various environments. Some enemies will take multiple shots to kill while others will be dead in one hit. The interesting thing about Selena's crossbow though is that both the quiver Selena carries, and the arrows that she uses can be upgraded by picking up floating sigils (symbols) that are scattered about the levels, and by finding the required hidden upgrade items as well.

Aside from her weapon of choice, which can be aimed using the 'Right Thumbstick', and shot using 'R1/R2' you will be able to use two different variations of jumps to traverse the platform based levels. By tapping 'X' Selena will perform a normal jump, and by holding the same button down she will jump even higher. Since there are doors, and switches to trigger you'll also be using Selena's crossbow to get past such obstacles. Shooting the crossbow at the door will usually open it unless a shot to a switch, or lever is required. In those instances you must shoot the switch in order to get past the blockaded area.

When it comes to Selena's werewolf form she has a couple of attacks, and jumps similar to that of her human self. Once you get to a certain checkpoint (statue) within a level you will automatically transform into your werewolf form, thus negating the need for a transform feature. In the werewolf form you can press 'R1' for an enhanced attack, or 'R2' for her normal slash. It's a lot like the human form's attacks, but vastly different in regards to how the attacks are utilized in-game. As far as the werewolf's jumps go Selena can perform a standard jump by tapping the 'X' button, and a double jump by holding down the same button. One other useful attack that Selena has in werewolf form ties in with her standard jump. By jumping, and pressing 'R2' afterwards she'll perform a powerful ground pounce that will usually obliterate the enemy creature instantly (unless it's a boss).

In both the human, and werewolf form Selena is governed by two gauges. This includes a health bar that can be refilled by collecting wolf's bane healing items, and a gauge that ties in with her special weapon/attack use which can be refilled by collecting arrows, and still beating hearts respectfully. As I mentioned earlier Selena's tools of destruction are upgradable, and can be upgraded through collected sigils, or through weapon/ability upgrades that can be found hidden within certain levels. To upgrade a weapons power sigils (silver, yellow) are needed, and to upgrade the weapons' gauge quiver/claws/fangs are required. For both forms of Selena you'll need to press "START" to pull up the upgrade menu, and upgrade her attacks, and abilities as the option to do so becomes available. Some upgrades will take place automatically as you pick up the upgrade items while others must be performed manually. Things like quiver upgrades, and fangs/claws will be automatically applied to Selena as they are collected, and will further extend their respective forms' weapon gauges.

In the way of level design, and completion you'll find that your playthrough therein is a timed ordeal. There is no time limit, mind you, but your progress will be timed in a speed run sort of way. Levels themselves are labyrinthine in layout featuring a small collection of enemies the likes of which you'll be familiar with from worldly creature lore, and similar Metroidvania style games. Flying creatures of various designs will repeatedly respawn, and fly across the screen as they try to hinder your ladder, and platform progress (Think 'Castlevania'). Other projectile/non-projectile beasties will also stand between you, and the level's finish line. You'll even find boss fights against horror movie classics such as Dracula, the Mummy, and the Creature. Beyond all these living/living dead threats you'll also face challenges in the form of traps, environmental hazards, and the occasional pits.

One of the coolest features of the game aside from the character art, and cell-shaded versions of said characters is the nod to classic horror films via the 'black & white' title screens. That, and the map screen which looks as if it were inspired by older Castlevania games, or the classic 'Ghosts and Goblins' series are truly awesome additions that make this otherwise dreadful gaming experience pure eye candy. For those of you looking for extras 'Scientifically Proven' has added an 'Extras' menu in which you can access played out movies, earned in-game rewards/achievements, and even gaze upon the game's creature 'Bestiary'. All of these goodies are only available assuming you have the nerve, and patience to actually complete the game in it's entirety.

The Verdict ...

As I said at the start of this article I found my playthrough to be an impossibility early on. Aside from the fact that Sony did what they did in regards to review codes I gave up after having to repeat a certain section of the second level numerous times. It was truly ridiculous. The fact that Selena often times moves much more slowly than the triggered traps made that part of my playthrough tedious, and nerve racking. It's as if the developer gave you one way out, and unless you play the game in that exact manner you are not going to make it very far. I've actually complained about game designs like this in the past, and with good reason. It is imperative as a game developer that you make the difficult gameplay based around viable, and flexible challenges. Forcing the gamer to play your game in a specific manner is not the way to go, and making a difficult solely for the purpose of being difficult is not fair to the gamer in an form, or fashion. Games like Castlevania, as linear as they might have been still allowed the gamer to play in their own style. The platforming environments in such games did not force players to perform precisely, but instead gave options outside of a direct "A & B" path.

I will say that there were some points in "Blood of the Werewolf" though where the game was a little more easy going on the player, but that when it came to the trap heavy levels the difficult became so absurd that it made me want to chuck my DualShock 3 controller right through my HDTV. Of course not wanting to have to buy another TV I chose to cuss like a sailor instead.

Wrapping things up ... I'm going to have to say pass on this one. Even at $4.99 it's such an aggravatingly difficult game that you will not enjoy it's more pleasant offerings. Sure the art was awesome as were the character designs, and levels (to some extent), but getting past the "difficulty for the sake of difficulty" applications makes this game one tough pill to swallow.

No comments:

Post a Comment

A wise man leaves wise words in his wake, but a foolish man leaves foolish words. Please be wise with what you say in the comments below, and bless this blog with comments worth keeping. If you should choose the foolish path though know that it will only serve to let the world know how foolish you really are.