Wulverblade is a beat ’em up created by Fully Illustrated and very much reminds me of Golden Axe. However Wulverblade has a large difference to ‘usual’ beat ’em ups, as it has a simple, but interesting story that contains a lot of research. To begin with the animation and style of Wulverblade is outstanding, and flows well with the appearance of the characters and overall portrays well how brutal this war was, as well as in terms of how the landscape fits with the theme of Wulverblade. This is shown within the game itself as you can find collectibles that provide information about the history of specific places and people. The sheer amount of research that has gone into this game is very clearly shown, and I think this is one of the main differences that sets this game apart from any other beat ’em up.
When you load into the game you are greeted with two modes, Campaign and Arenas. The Campaign can be played on Normal and Easy difficulty, this does have a obvious effect on gameplay while fighting, so if you are new to these types of games I do recommend that you start with easy, not only to get used to the game but to familiarize yourself with any of the three characters that are available. There is also an Arcade Mode, here you have three lives and three continues, once you’ve used them all up, it’s game over. Just like ‘old school’ arcade games, providing a much more challenging experience for those willing to take it on. There’s also a ‘Coming Soon’ Next to Arcade Mode in the menus, this is a special mode that is unlocked by finishing the campaign, and I’ll leave any more information about this mode out here, as it would be spoiler heavy. Nevertheless, this mode does extend the replay value of Wulverblade. The arena mode features 7 arenas, in which you take on constant waves of enemies until you eventually die. Making it great for practising your moves, and also features a leaderboard so there’s plenty of time to be had here vying for that number one spot.
On to the characters of the campaign, There is Caradoc, The more evened out character based on Power, Agility and Speed, and Defence. Then there is Brennus who is a Power heavy character, that has lower Defence, Agility and Speed. Then there is Guinevere who has less Power quite low Defence, but high Agility and Speed. These characters are well evened out to appeal to each type of player if you like mobility and the ability to move you would play Guinevere. The campaign revolves around a true story, involving the disappearance of the Roman Ninth Legion as they ventured north into Caledonia. A story which has also been adapted in books and film.
As for the actual gameplay, I think it handled quite well, the combat is highly dynamic as you have to adapt how you are going to attack based on what enemy you are going against, and not only that, the boss battles that are in this game are all different and there are ways for you to interact with the environment to help with these bosses and other enemies in general, such as picking up throwable items and charging and knocking enemies into spikes. The heavy weapons you can find throughout the game that have there own backstory as well as they help with dealing with groups of enemies. There is a leaderboard system within the game too, which gives the story mode more replay value than it already has aside after the new game mode you unlock after completion. There’s also secrets you can find, however I missed most of these as I was too invested with finding the historical information and notes throughout the game. You can also call in a pack of wolves once per stage, this has a effect on your final leaderboard score, but it could mean the difference between you losing your final life and passing the stage.
There is a rage mode that you charge up to use that is extremely useful when playing the game, as it heals you whenever you hit a enemy, you become invincible during the time it is in use, and your attack speed is greatly increased making bosses you find hard, easier. You build up your rage meter by defeating enemies, with executions filling it up faster. You can also find health items and rage potions that help refill both. The music that is playing during the time you are playing this is beautifully composed, and puts you in the mood of the game. The voice acting is incredible and the narrator that tells you the story as you play adds much more depth to the story. Wulverblade is also features local cooperative play. I did encounter a few very minor issues, most notably when I was playing Brennus, after a cut scene he would have two arms on the same side of his body, making him look a little like Mortal Kombat’s Goro. Another issue is that the same button is used for attacking as well as picking up items, this does become a little frustrating when there’s a lot of loose body parts and other items on screen, and you’re standing over them trying to attack, but instead are picking up and throwing them.