From the opening moments, it’s easy to tell that Wulverblade is a special video game. It’s a fantastic love-letter to the forefathers of the beat em’ up genre while paving the way for itself to be distinguished from the competition. As a fan of these types of video games, Wulverblade enticed me with fantastic visuals and over-the-top violence but kept me hooked because of the title’s relentless difficulty, stellar presentation, and intuitive gameplay.
Wulverblade puts players in the role one of three possible warriors. Each time you start up the game, you can change which character you choose. There’s Caradoc, the all-around fighter, Brennus, a hulking brute with incredibly devastating strength, and my personal favorite Guinevere, a nimble fighter who can cut down any enemy who crosses her path, swiftly and efficiently. Each of these characters has their own strengths and weaknesses. Finding out which character fits your playstyle is half the fun. I usually picked Guinevere, but when levels became too difficult, I would switch to Brennus.
Combat is brutal, rewarding, and responsive. Characters have a variety of essential moves that they can all use. Offensive abilities include moves like an uppercut, ground pound, grapple, and the ability to call in wolves to rip apart enemies in the area. For defensive maneuvers, players can block, dodge, double jump, and dash. There aren’t that many abilities in the game, but that adds to its charm. Another cool thing is that the combat feels immersive due to the HD Rumble in the Joy-Cons. Every punch, grapple and hit you will make the controller vibrate. I loved feeling like I was a part of the epic battles on screen.
Wulverblade is old-school by nature, and it’s one of the biggest compliments that I can give the game. It’s challneging. Enemies come from all directions and often pack a considerable punch. During each level, you get three lives to complete a stage. Make it far enough, and you’ll trigger a checkpoint. Losing all of your lives will revert you to that part of a level. Fans of leaderboards will want to try and finish the level in one run and as fast as they can. Doing so will increase the number of points you get. As someone who attempts to do better than my friends in every game that I play, it became an addiction to try and top the leaderboards.
Wulverblade‘s storyline is filled with historical context, wonderfully researched by the development team. Every inch of the game, from the environments, dialogue, and cutscenes are handled with care. It’s an epic of movie quality, and I thoroughly enjoyed the length of the campaign, which took me around 5 hours to complete. Visually, Wulverblade is jaw-dropping. The cel-shaded art style fits the time period perfectly, but that’s not all. The levels are gorgeous, and the character models are some of the best I’ve seen in a while. Each of their expressions are full of detail. In fact, Wulverblade is one of the best games on the Switch at the moment. Even though it’s only an indie game, Wulverblade has the heart of an AAA experience.
After playing the campaign (or before if you choose to) there’s an arena mode where you can fight waves of enemies that become increasingly difficult. This adds to Wulverblade’s replayability. As with the campaign, you can play this mode solo or with a cooperative partner.
My only criticism is that the load times can become quite long. They aren’t excruciatingly long, but the load times are noticeable enough that it becomes distracting. I didn’t find any other issues with the game, but those who don’t enjoy difficult video games will definitely want to stay away from Wulverblade. It’s brutal, but to me, that’s part of the game’s charm and appeal.
Wulverblade is the latest addition to one of the best years in video game history. The Switch has been filled with wonderful games since its launch in March. Fans of the beat em’ up genre will find a lot to love about the combat, history enthusiasts will enjoy the story and lore, and fans of visually stunning experiences will be lost in the beautiful cel-shaded world that the developers created. Wulverblade is one of the best indie games of the year and one of the best on the console. Run to the Eshop and purchase this game. Sit down, draw your weapon, and fight alongside three powerful warriors in a stunning adventure that begs to be played.