Wulverblade (PlayStation 4) Review

By Nikola Suprak 25.01.2019

Review for Wulverblade  on PlayStation 4

It can be hard to find an enjoyable beat 'em these days. It is very easy to throw a bunch of enemies on screen and ask the player to punch all of them in the face, but it is far less easy to make the whole process enjoyable. The genre seemed to peak in the mid 90's, and since then there have mostly been a series of poor imitators, with a few notable exceptions. Wulverblade luckily happens to be one of those exceptions, and really manages to encapsulate what is best about the genre. There isn't a ton of innovation here, and it essentially checks all the boxes people would expect from a beat 'em up, but it does those all so well, and it introduces just enough that is unique and doesn't feel like a complete retread of all the classics.

There are certain elements here that are highly reminiscent of other titles, but one of those is not the story. Wulverblade throws the player into the role of a member of a British tribe revolting against the Ancient Roman government. The story is minimal here, and like any beat 'em up, it takes a major back seat to punching everyone and everything in the face. But this title does manage to have some solid underlying lore, and while there isn't a ton of plot, it does still very much feel like the player is involved in some epic historic confrontation. This is about as interesting a storyline as is going to be found in a beat 'em up, and while that sounds like faint praise, the plot here is at least worth following.

Screenshot for Wulverblade  on PlayStation 4

On the other hand, The gameplay here is classic beat 'em up, though, and much of this is obviously inspired by genre classics like Castle Crashers, or Streets of Rage. It is a side-scrolling fighter where characters keep moving in one direction, smashing and slashing any angry looking person they come across. There are three different playable characters, and each one of them is different enough that it doesn't feel like playing as clones of the same character. The basic mechanics here feel largely similar to many titles before it, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing as Wulverblade has learned from the best and it does all these things well.

Something that sticks out here is the difficulty. This game is brutal, and not just because you can use the decapitated heads of the fallen as projectile weapons. This can be quite hard, and just mashing the attack over and over is a good way to get Roman swords put places they probably shouldn't be going. There is a lot more skill and strategy required here than other beat 'em up titles, which is nice because getting through some of the tougher levels actually feels like an accomplishment. The checkpoint system is fairly generous, and the number of continues seems fair, so even though this is pretty hard, it never feels like it is overwhelming. It is a great difficulty for a game like this, and the sharp controls and well placed enemies make it a blast to get through.

Screenshot for Wulverblade  on PlayStation 4

There are also a couple of interesting ideas here outside of just mashing the attack button. Attacking is all well and good, but the key to a successful fight is some well-timed dodges and blocks. Timing is key here, and for the most part the way avoiding attacks is implemented into the game works quite well. Things can be a bit gummy at times, and it doesn't always feel like the dodge works as well as it should. Pulling off a successful dodge and returning a devastating counter feels fantastic when it is pulled off, but a bit more feedback on the controls would've been nice.

Additionally, this throws a couple special moves in the player's arsenal. Everyone has a once-per-level attack that allows them to summon wolves, who then maul everyone on screen. There's also a rage meter that builds up throughout the course of the level that will put the hero in a nearly invincible state. Using all these skills at the right time becomes crucial in making it all the way through the end of the level, and this is one beat 'em up where button mashing will not get you very far. It's a great package from top to bottom, with a lot of interesting gameplay elements that take some time to get familiar with and eventually master.

Screenshot for Wulverblade  on PlayStation 4

Like a lot of beat 'em ups, there aren't a lot of new tricks here once things get going, so it can all start to blend together a bit by the end. It isn't a slog to get through, necessarily, but by the end of the adventure some of the joy will be gone out, because the developer never really thinks of a good way to reinvigorate the basic formula here. Punching through hordes of Roman soldiers is good fun for a while, but it feels like they blew all the creativity at the start and later segments can drag a bit because of it. This is countered a bit by the fact the game is also on the short side, so things wind up wrapping up just about the time when the game starts overstaying its welcome. It is a good deal of fun while it lasted, but that fun did feel like it was just about on the verge of drying up.

As a final note, Wulverblade also looks fantastic. It is the right sort of stylized that will really make an impression, and as a whole the presentation here is very well done. The characters, the enemies, and especially the bosses, all have this great look to them, and the unique art style here really helps all of the animation stick out. A lot of the characters can look kind of similar, but that is really the only downside to the presentation. The music similarly stands out, helping in establishing that dark and violent tone it is clearly going for. This is a game where the animation and the music fit the tone almost perfectly, and it is remarkable how much each helps the atmosphere of this title.

Screenshot for Wulverblade  on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Wulverblade might not be the most innovative of titles, but what it does it does really well. This is everything you ever loved about the beat 'em up genre, put into one stylized little package. It doesn't reinvent the genre, or even really add anything new, but at the same time it doesn't really need to. Fans of the genre will love what this has to offer though, and it might even manage to draw some newcomers in as well. With some slick and enjoyable combat and a unique, interesting visual aesthetic, it is hard to not be immediately drawn in by Wulverblade. It really is a great title, so grab a sword and start slashing your way through medieval Britain.

Developer

Darkwind Media

Publisher

Darkwind Media

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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