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Wulverblade Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Wulverblade is a delightfully gruesome throwback to an era when all of life's problems could be solved by punching bad guys in the face. While a little repetitive and not especially original, I enjoyed the stylish art design and the underdog story of survival. Both single-player and teaming up with friends, Wulverblade is the first great beat 'em up of 2018. Rating: 78%
Wulverblade
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
You know how critics will sometimes call a big blockbuster released in January the "first great action game of the year"? As corny and cliche as it is, I've always wanted to start out a review with that kind of bold and unflinching confidence. So I'm here to tell you that Wulverblade is easily the first great beat 'em up of the year. And sure, this game technically came out last October on the Switch and it's not like we've been inundated with old school brawlers in the first three weeks of the year, but don't you dare take this moment from me. I have wolves on my side.

Things are not looking good for the few remaining tribes in Britannia. The Roman Empire is pushing north and looking to slaughter the forces that stand in their way. Unwilling to go down without a fight, three family members come together and set out on an adventure to destroy a bunch of watchtowers, kill the generals and ultimately show Rome the power of the Wulverblade.


In true old school brawler fashion, you choose between a strong warrior named Brennus, the speedy Guinevere and the all-around balanced Caradoc. The goal is to walk from left to right hacking and slashing your way through eight lengthy stages of beat 'em up action. It ends up playing out like the most violent Game of Thrones side-story of all time, only without the dragons and stupid zombie monsters.

If you grew up playing arcade brawlers like Knights of the Round and Golden Axe, then you're going to feel right at home in Wulverblade. This doesn't attempt to add role-playing elements or special skills to buy between rounds, because this is a back-to-basics beat 'em up where you mash the attack button until everybody falls down.

Thankfully, there's more to it than that. Although there's a lot of button tapping, there's also some strategy to pulling off the different offensive and defensive moves. You've got the uppercut, a knock back attack, ground slam and even a vicious double jump that does damage. I found that I was able to get through the first few levels doing little more than mashing buttons, but had to really focus on using all my moves in order to beat the rest of the game.

Wulverblade (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

There's a quickness to the action that I found hard to resist. This is a good example of how a great weapon attack can make all the difference. All three characters slice and dice their way through the Roman soldiers like celery and can juggle the enemies in the air for added impact. Even though you're just one person taking on a whole army, the game does a good job of constantly making you powerful. Though don't get too cocky, because the momentum of battle can quickly turn against you. All it takes is a few well timed hits and your hero will be scrambling to find crates filled with food.

I went into Wulverblade expecting it to be an over-the-top fantasy game filled with orcs and magic. But what I discovered was a surprisingly grounded story that, while certainly over-the-top, felt like it could have been pulled out of history. Well, except for some of the supernatural stuff at the very end, but I was impressed by the restraint shown up to that point. The big bosses tend to be heavily-armored generals and not undead monsters or dragons. It's a more human story than I was expecting.

To further drive home the sense of history, the game goes out of its way to show you the real world locations that both inspired and were featured in Wulverblade. You'll get a brief narrated bit with some gorgeous drone footage of the real world fields and mountainsides. This is a great touch that reminded me a lot of the game Never Alone, which used the interactive medium to introduce us to the Inupiaq people and culture in Alaska. I like when games pull back the curtain and show us the real world elements that go into the artistic process.

Wulverblade (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It probably won't surprise you to learn that Wulverblade suffers from a lot of the same problems that plagued most of those old school brawlers. For one thing, it's hopelessly repetitive, to the point where you'll spend most of your time mashing the same attack button. And it's not just the combat that starts to feel the same after a while, but also the enemies you see along the way. There are only a handful of bad guys, and you'll hack and slash those same enemies hundreds of times before the credits roll. I will say that giving each enemy clone a different name is a nice touch.

The good news is that the fast action and gorgeous visuals help make up for some of the repetition. This is a great looking game with more than a few stunning moments sprinkled throughout. Everything from the characters to the enemies to the backgrounds look like they were pulled straight out of a comic book. In fact, there are times when it reminds me of something like Archer. It's a striking look that helps to set this brawler apart from the pack.

Wulverblade is a delightfully gruesome throwback to an era when all of life's problems could be solved by punching bad guys in the face. While a little repetitive and not especially original, I enjoyed the stylish art design and the underdog story of survival. Both single-player and teaming up with friends, Wulverblade is the first great beat 'em up of 2018.
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