Stopping the Invasion
A love letter to ‘90s beat’em ups, Wulverblade is a brutally animated game that plays and feels like a new Final Fight or Streets of Rage. Developed by Fully Illustrated and published by Darkwind Media, this 2D side-scrolling brawler might be considered an indie game but plays and feels like a AAA title. Running at a smooth 60fps, Wulverblade is a joyous co-op experience.
With a Braveheart-like setting, this brawler is brutal both in difficulty and in context. Playing as one of three savages fighting through the Roman Empire’s invading horde, you can knock the heads and limbs off your enemies and use them as weapons. Despite the repeating common thugs, combat remains fluid and engaging throughout the campaign. Attacking is mapped to two buttons but jumping, blocking, and running add just enough flavor to keep the action from growing too mindless. You can even enter a berserker rage and call in wolves to attack your enemies once a meter fills. Unlike Castle Crashers, the player does not level up and has access to the full repertoire of moves right from level one. The lack of RPG elements can seem like a missed opportunity but there is no denying the fact where Wulverblade’s inspiration came from – 16-bit brawlers. Level capping bosses are also big, very difficult, and provide even more savage personality to the gameplay.
Outside of killing any enemies that approaches, there are bits of flare to give the player some additional content to sift through. For example, each stage had a secret area to find, there are many hidden heavy attack weapons to unlock, enemies can be knocked into fire or onto spikes, there are bits of hidden lore to be found inside breakable objects, and there are even real world documentary-like videos to watch. Even though Wulverblade is an action packed video game, it was written within real historical events. From the main map screen, the player can read text about the area in which the game takes place, but more importantly watch a video of the real life European landscape which provides a subtle educational element. Shot with a high definition aerial drone, these 1-minute videos are so well done you will think you are watching a documentary on Netflix. The thing is, these videos are a total surprise and completely unnecessary. You can tell the developer not only took time and money to create these optional videos, you can see the love what went into make them. Again, a total shock to see something like this in a game but very glad they are there and they actually make rock circles sound interesting.
My biggest complaint with Wulverblade is the high difficulty factor. While players will probably be able to fight their way through the first couple stages without too much trouble, the difficulty quickly ramps up, especially when playing solo. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t stagger its difficulty depending on the number of players so solo players will have a much more difficult time than local co-op partners. This is a new ‘90s brawler indeed and leaderboard keep competition in check if you are into that.
Even without modernized RPG elements, Wulverblade is still one of the better beat’em ups I have played recently. The gore-filled settings and revenge filled campaign is really something to admire while action fans will never run out of things to slice open; there is even an arcade mode that has limited lives/continues like brawlers from the past and an optional horde mode with the goal of getting a high score. The difficulty might turn some players away but Wulverblade has a lot to like.
Not As Good As: Castle Crashers HD
Also Try: Batman: The Brave and the Bold on Wii
Wait For It: Quadruple Dragon