Fully Illustrated’s Wulverblade is a new entry into the classic genre of beat-em-up games like Double Dragon and Battletoads. Brutally unforgiving gameplay with instantly classic characters and engaging enemies draw you immediately into Wulverblade. The cartoon art style is set in a dark, yet beautiful, era where players control British warriors as they defend their homeland from the invading Roman horde.
Caradoc, Brennus, Guinevere are the three warriors you are given to fight the Roman empire. Caradoc and his two companions are fierce and unwilling to bend to the will of the Romans. You defend a hardened group of tribes that will defend their land to the last man, however, the 9th legion is 5,000 strong. Without a leader, the barbaric tribes quickly become overwhelmed and sadly will turn their warriors into soldiers for the enemy. You fight brutally unforgiving enemies and powerful bosses set in real-life locations. Bosses and enemies are all taken directly from history and this is shown in-game in the form of collectibles, narration, and cut-scenes all mixed together with incredible art and music.
Wulverblade is addicting and fun, and it has enough violence and engaging enemies to keep you playing until the end of its relatively short 5+ hour campaign. Beat-em-up games like this are usually short and to the point but that is what often makes them so great. Wulverblade is a part of a genre that contains vast amounts of titles to enjoy but it sets itself apart immediately by the developers dedication to history, great music, fluid controls, and more.
Wulverblade is a side-scrolling, left to right, game originally designed as a title for the Nintendo Switch and ported to PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The game features a gritty and well-done cartoon art style optimized for 1920×1080@60Hz and maximum settings at 2715×1527@60Hz. The game can run well on limited setups, requiring only a GTX 680 or a Radeon R9 280 and above. The game has limited graphics options with anti-aliasing including NFAA (normal filter AA), texture and environment detail controls, and V-Sync.
The gameplay is simple and lends itself well to those who want to play casually and button-mash their way throughout the entire game. The game feels like a classic brawler with sword attacks, blocking, juggling enemies in the air, calling wolves to your aide – and it only offers three lives.
Wulverblade lacks some depth that some may want as there are no real upgrade paths and only three character archetypes. Your original weapon is the only one you get to fully utilize throughout the game. The game features classic one-weapon gameplay with defensive and offensive mechanics to master. You may also pick up enemies’ dropped swords, severed heads, or various other items to throw; or you can find heavy weapons like cleavers or shovels to string light and heavy attacks. Heavy weapons are fun but once you are hit enough times, the weapon gets dropped and can be forgotten.
Wulverblade features three well-designed characters. Caradoc is fierce and is your standard balanced character, Brennus is big and powerful but slow, and Guinevere became my favorite character as she is brutally fast and fun to use but is comparatively weak and can quickly die.
Speaking of death, Wulverblade keeps the blood flowing continuously with wave after wave of enemy NPCs attacking from both sides. You will have a variety of enemies to fend off with typical combos and special abilities. Here is some gameplay:
There are also single special moves for each character and options on the battlefield. When you become overwhelmed with enemies, your character can launch their own special attack that clears enemies around you while sacrificing a small amount of health. You can also call on your wolves to clear the battlefield once per level while you try to save your three lives. You can also pick up items on the field or string enough combos to raise a meter that allows you to go into berserk mode where can you become invincible and run straight through any enemy.
The mechanics are simple but remain exciting and fun throughout the entire game. Juggling enemies in the air while simultaneously blocking and rolling away from arrows or cinematically chopping your enemies’ heads off is satisfying and fun.
Co-op and Game modes
From the start, Wulverblade offers the standard Campaign mode with checkpoints and save states. There is also Arcade mode where you only have 3 lives and 3 continues just like in the golden days, or an Arena mode that acts as a horde mode of sorts that has you battle waves of enemies to challenge others on a leaderboard. There is an additional Secret mode that unlocks after finishing the campaign, but we will not spoil it here.
Without spoiling anything in the game, there are several Boss encounters that are difficult, and your three lives will be cut to shreds over and over. When you finally defeat that tough wave of enemies or a difficult boss it is truly a blast. While there is no variety in weapons or character abilities, the three different characters each have their strengths and will require practice to master. Those looking for a challenge can get it with the much more difficult and unforgiving Arcade mode.
Wulverblade’s biggest flaw is in its co-op modes as there are three awesome characters to use but only two-person co-op. There is also no online matchmaking for those that like to play with others. The game would be exponentially better with online co-op, otherwise you are left with two player co-op in your home which hinders the game’s potential. This game is fun and I would have loved to play it online with some friends.
Wulverblade’s location videos, in-game lore, and level design throughout are beautiful. For those who love the history of the era and love to read lore, Wulverblade’s developer did a fantastic job of creating development videos and gathering stunning photos of the locations used to inspire the game.
Currently, Wulverblade features 8 campaign missions and the open ending allows the developer the option to include more missions in the future. The game’s aesthetics in many areas is stunning, and the narration and lore are both fun and entertaining. Wulverblade is a great indie developer title and worth the price of admission of $14.99 on Steam. At that price, Wulverblade is a steal and we highly recommend it.
Michael Held, the Creative Director for the game, includes so many fascinating real-life photos and history that were incorporated directly into the game that it allows you to become fully immersed in pushing back the Roman invasion. Wulverblade’s gameplay is addicting and engaging enough that we wanted to finish the game, and we never grew tired of the campaign but played it until it ended. The game sorely lacks 3 player co-op and online pla,y but the base game is extremely fun and those who like to master brawler games have a strong and challenging title to enjoy.
Wulverblade is available now on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.