WULVERBLADE is a new side-scrolling beat-em-up slasher inspired by old-school arcade titles like Golden Axe and Final Fight. But unlike its retro inspirations, WULVERBLADE features exceptional 1080p HD artwork and cell-shaded graphics, which heighten the game’s blood and gore. Because of this graphic violence, we encourage mature players to keep reading and learn more about this exciting new title for Switch!
The year is 120 AD, and your home of northern Britannia is under attack. Roman soldiers are seizing control of the land, and some of your fellow Britons have already surrendered to their brutal power—but your tribe will never surrender to Rome, even if this means certain death. To defend your land and your tribe, you and your siblings must slaughter your way through countless waves of enemies throughout eight marvelously detailed levels, each filled with breathtaking cutscenes, secret areas, special weapons, and much more. And the best part? All of it is inspired by history!
Each playable character in WULVERBLADE has their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Caradoc, the main character, is a well-rounded fighter. His brutish brother, Brennus, can dish out some serious damage, but his defense and agility are pretty low. And their sister Guinevere doesn’t hit as hard as her brothers do, but she’s the fastest of all the characters, which comes in handy when juggling enemies or pushing through a dangerous crowd of enemies. You can play as any of these characters any time you like, so have fun trying each of them out to see what works best for your play style!
WULVERBLADE includes the basics of the beat-em-up genre and builds upon these basics in refreshing ways. For example, in addition to standard moves like grappling and slashing, WULVERBLADE adds a block move, which can prevent damage from most weapons—and once you’ve mastered it, you can perform a devastating counter-attack! Another advanced move creates a burst of energy, which blasts enemies away from you. (However, using this super-cool move does decrease your health a bit, so use it sparingly.)
In WULVERBLADE, you’ll be using a sharp object to attack your enemies, and this object varies from character to character. For example, Caradoc and Guinevere use swords, but Brennus prefers a short blade and a small axe. In addition to your character-specific weapon, you can pick up strong weapons, which break after several uses—and you can even read about the actual history of the strong weapons you find! Finally, you can pick up a variety of objects and throw them to inflict damages. These include spears, barrels, and even severed body parts!
WULVERBLADE features several modes of play, but the basic concept always remains the same: kill as many enemies as you can, and try your hardest not to die! Your health meter takes a hit whenever you take damage, but there’s always a chance you’ll find food, which restores a bit of health when you eat it. (And if you’re lucky enough to find a piece of meat, your health meter will refill completely!) In addition to health-restoring food, there are several other features built into WULVERBLADE that can help boost your performance. One of these is your special meter, which, once filled, lets you become enraged with the push of a button—and once enraged, you’ll be invincible for roughly 10 seconds while you the enemies to pieces. Another helpful feature? Once each level, you can call the wolves, which arrive instantly and kill a handful of the enemies on your screen. (Of course, if you’re battling a boss, the wolves will only deal a small amount of damage.)
Of course, each play mode does have its nuances, and here’s a little breakdown of what they each have to offer. Campaign Mode lets you use checkpoints, pick up the game on the last level you’ve attempted, and continue your game at any time. It also gives each player three lives each play session. Arcade mode, however, does not offer checkpoints or save spots, and it only gives you three lives to work with for your entire game. (Of course, this mode really simulates that old-school arcade feel!) And Arena mode is pure slashing mayhem; you’ll simply choose a stage and battle wave after wave of enemies until you’re defeated. There’s also an unlockable fourth mode—you’ll have to look into that one for yourself!
We also need to talk about WULVERBLADE’s cell-shaded 1080p HD graphics, which depict scenery modeled after actual places in Britain. These damp caves, shady forests, and misty moors feel really authentic, and you can tell that the developers have poured countless hours into curating this authentic feel through extensive research into ancient Britannia, as well as the present-day British wilderness that remains untouched by modern life. (And if you’re really into the history aspect of WULVERBLADE, you’ll love the bonus historical material, which includes HD footage of actual British locations as well as historical facts and anecdotes!)
And accentuating the game’s excellent graphics is its musical score, which always sets the perfect tone. This atmospheric soundtrack contains the visceral screams of death, high-quality voice acting (although we must say that English wasn’t a language back in 120 AD . . . but we’ll let it slide), and impactful narration. This soundscape serves to make the player feel as though they’re watching a film—and a really exciting film at that!
All that being said, we must admit that WULVERBLADE has a few drawbacks. First, this game is touch . . . really tough. (And we’re pretty seasoned players.) Nick tried playing by himself for a while, but he was unable to beat the game’s third boss; he needed Sarah’s help. This makes us think WULVERBLADE is targeted towards a co-op experience—and if you don’t have a second person to play with, you might find yourself getting really stuck. (Also, you should know there’s only one mode of difficulty in WULVERBLADE, so you can’t switch to an “easy mode” if you’re having a tough time.) WULVERBLADE also suffers from long load times, which rival those found in big games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But honestly, we’re OK with these load times: the game’s stunning graphics, cutscenes, and soundscape are really worth the wait.
All in all, we really enjoyed playing WULVERBLADE for this review, and we look forward to playing more of it in the future. We think fans of the beat-em-up genre will love this game, but we also think it will appeal to players who appreciate gore, ancient Britannia, or even the idea of fighting on the underdog’s team—because hey, it’s just a fact that Rome was the winning side in this chapter of history. (Although their fall did come eventually.) There’s also something to be said about featuring the ancient Britons—rather than the ancient Romans—as the stars of the show. In history, we tend to pay more attention to the Roman side because their history is well-documented; we know comparatively little of ancient Britannia and its people. But WULVERBLADE brings these ancient Britons to life—and, comically, the game almost sucks the life out of the Romans, who are portrayed as empty battle machines with generic Roman names.
If you like what you’ve seen in this review, we definitely recommend that you check out WULVERBLADE on Switch as soon as possible, and you can download it from the eShop right here!
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick is a Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast, but working with Nintendeal has fostered a love for tough-as-nails indies such as Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and Cuphead. Sarah prefers sim games like Animal Crossing, Don’t Starve, and Stardew Valley, but she challenges herself by grinding Slay the Spire from time to time.