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Blood of the Werewolf

Score: 88%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Midnight City
Developer: Scientifically Proven
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer (2D)/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Blood of the Werewolf is a great homage to classic side-scrolling action titles like Castlevania, but doesnít try to provide a retro visual style and yet still feels like a very modern game - something tried often, but a balance that is rarely achieved.

Even though the game doesnít use low-rez character models or backdrops, the style still invokes that old-school feel by getting the proportions of the character sizes to the rooms you are running through just right. As it is, you get that classic feel, but with detailed character sprites.

The overall visual style feels like someoneís attempt to use Southparkís paper-cutout method, but with a dark and demented Disney character design that you might have seen in Hercules. The result is a highly stylized cast of characters, but done in a way that would almost feel right in an old Flash-based game.

The visuals seem appropriately paired to their audio. The only dialogue is between levels and it is done well, but I especially enjoyed the gameís background music. Each level had a distinct mood to it, and that mood was generated by more than just the look of each level. To call the soundtrack merely mood music seems weak, but that really seemed to be the primary purpose and it did it well. Without it, I doubt the feel of Dr. Jekyll's laboratory would have been all that far from the early levels in the docks.


Gameplay:

Blood of the Werewolf puts you in control of one of the last werewolves in the world. You are Selena, and your child has been taken from you by Dr. Frankenstein. Your goal is to fight your way through 10 levels of side-scrolling hell in order to save the cub.

As you might expect, Selena has two forms, human and wolf, and you really donít have any control over which form you are. The night of your adventure boasts a full moon, and whenever that moon is out, you are the wolf. When itís hidden or blocked, you are the human. Thankfully, Selena is a formidable foe no matter which form she is in.

In human form, Selena uses a crossbow and can perform fairly long jumps, but she gains the ability to double-jump when she turns into the wolf, not to mention powerful teeth-filled jaws and sharp claws. As you find various pickups throughout the game, Selenaís arsonal expands. Eventually you get a wider variety of crossbow bolts and some other wolf-based attacks, but these upgraded abilities drain your special ability bar. As a result, I found myself using these extra abilities only when I felt it was necessary.

While the game is only 10 levels, it does contain five major bosses that also fit the old-school game style. In all cases, these bosses have massive hit points and regular patterns that you need to recognize and find weaknesses to exploit. Whatís great is that even though Selenaís attacks donít change all that much during the game, the boss battles never feel like they are rehashes of a previous fight. Each one has a very unique feel.


Difficulty:

Blood of the Werewolf is hard, plain and simple. While not every screen ends in a checkpoint, most of them do, and you will need them. A major part of what makes the game though is how much of the level design is about platforms and timing your jumps just right.

This game boasts everything from simple jumps over endless chasms to moving platforms, platforms that go away when you land on them, to ones with spikes over them so you canít jump too high. Of course, the platforms themselves arenít the worst of this gameís timing challenge. You will find corridors lined with crushing pistons or electric beams that will have you running as fast as you can when you should, but also stopping short at just the right times. Some of these even have you falling down pits where pistons come at you from the walls and its not just about timing the start of your fall, but also guiding Selena left and right in order to avoid hitting a ledge that will stop her and get her flattened.

Thankfully, Blood of the Werewolf is very forgiving in the amount of checkpoints it has and when you do die, you are at most a room away from the place where you will find yourself killed over and over again.


Game Mechanics:

Blood of the Werewolfís biggest mechanic is the wolf/human transformation. The game uses this a lot and the level design is great when it comes to giving you challenges you can just make it through in the form that you are in. When the game gets really interesting is when you find yourself in rooms where the moon appears and disappears as you work your way through it.

One such room is a giant lift that keeps stopping you. When it stops, the windows to the outside are closed, so it's up to Selenaís human form to hit the switch. Doing so opens the next set of windows so you flip back to the wolf where you have to keep from being hit by large blocks that were human-Selenaís stairs. The game really is focused a lot on the switching between the two modes, and it handles it well.

If you are a fan of side-scrolling action games like this and you donít mind a game that will provide a thoroughly platformer-heavy challenge, then Blood of the Werewolf is for you.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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