Wulverblade is an historically-based brawler with retro influences that alternates between teaching you some history and chopping off arms and legs. It is a little short and a little simplistic, but the game’s entire presentation, co-op gameplay, and reasonable price make it something special.
Wulverblade tells the story of the northern tribes of Britain in 120 A.D. The Romans are trying to take their homeland by force and coercion, and their offer of subjugation and slavery is about as welcome as BBQ at a vegan restaurant. As you might imagine, both would cause a revolt and physical attacks.
You can choose between three characters with different strengths. Brennus is the big powerhouse with limited agility. Guinevere has more agility, but less power. Caradoc is the balanced character between the two of them.
Each character has a special attack. Whenever you are surrounded, you can use a special attack to push the enemy back. It’s powerful and can help you destroy enemies that have already been weakened.
The retro combat is strongly influenced by beat ‘em ups from the 90s. The set of moves is limited with an attack, strong attack, jump, and block with combinations letting you roll, attack from above, or charge to knock an enemy down. It works well, and I enjoyed not having to perform forty perfect button presses to cut my enemies down to size.
There is a nice overall balance to the combat. A self-avowed button masher can still carve up the 9th Roman Legion. Someone with more skill can push themselves to dig into the timing and stringing moves and jumps together for a little more challenge. I like that it’s designed for both types of people to play this game and have fun.
This game’s combat is fun, but it’s retro for better and worse. Every level starts with you moving left to right. Enemies come from both sides, and you will need to kill them all before you can continue moving forward.
These small arenas are filled with semi-destructible and reactive environments that can help you and harm your enemies. You can pick up food to replenish your health, barrels and weapons can be thrown, and more powerful weapons can be found throughout the game. Knock enemies into stationary stakes and fires for more damage.
The problem with all that retro goodness is that some of the old problems are brought along with the good. Both you and your foes have to be within a certain position horizontally to connect. This makes perfect sense, but I was sometimes in a position where the enemy could hit me, but I couldn’t hit them until I moved just bit. There was also the occasional off-screen enemy who could hit me, but I couldn’t see them.
When I died, it was normally always my fault. There is a consistency and flow to the combat with ground executions, a rage mode that turns you into an unstoppable machine for a short time, and the ability to summon wolves once a level. When you are especially awesome, the game slows down to show you making the killing blow.
By far, the most impressive part of Wulverblade is the presentation. Visually, you have a fantastic art style with very fluid cell-based animation. That animation is used for the cutscenes at the beginning and ending of each level and include decent voice acting.
The eight levels themselves are 2D, but there are 3D elements. Often you see wolves or soldiers moving in front of or behind you. One level had an archer (the sniper of the medieval world) shooting at me from that back level. These little touches add a lot of depth to the 2D.
The developers also thought to add a story and historical facts to make the experience more interesting. The Romans are the turds in ancient Britain’s punchbowl, and the northern tribes need to be united to throw them out. That’s normally enough, but they added different characters, historical locations and information with pictures, and a plot with an actual beginning and end.
The sound is very good too. The musical score is solid with plenty to appreciate. The sound effects and voice acting are very good too. That sound is more realistic, since the developers incorporated some sounds recorded at some of the areas from the game. Like many other extra touches in the game, it’s small, but it increases the value of the whole package.
Wulverblade is a fun 2D brawler that balances well between retro and modern. With single player, co-op, and multiple difficulties, this is a good package with an excellent presentation. Anyone looking for the fun of an old school brawler with substantially better visuals should really give Wulverblade a try.
Wulverblade PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.0/10
Wulverblade can be finished in a few hours, but this retro beat ‘em up packs a punch. The presentation uses solid visuals and engaging sound as you push the ancient Roman army out of Britain. With multiple modes and difficulties, there is plenty of value here for anyone looking to swing a sword and cut your way to freedom. You might even learn a historical tidbit or two along the way.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.