You can beat the same genre of game over and over again, but what really matters are the key details: story, setting, style, gameplay, etc. If you just say "let's do a space game" and phone it in, you can have the most innovative style of play ever, and it won't mean anything. Games like Wulverblade are here to show that it can be done competently and with balance.
The story takes place in Britain, circa 100 AD, as England, Wales and Scotland are being taken over by the Romans. Caradoc, Brennus, and Guinevere are three siblings out for revenge – not only are you going to fight Romans Braveheart-if-he-existed-in-Roman-times style, but you're going to get some sweet revenge, too. Revenge is a very simple motivator, but it's good. The story is, in a word, "eh". It does the job. But what I liked was that not only were there a few twists, but it takes place in a time and setting not too often seen in media, period. That earns it extra points here. So overall, let's say it's well above average.
Wulverblade is a Switch game ported to the PS4, and the controls are smoothly transferred over. Since this is mostly a beat-em-up sort of game, it isn't exactly complicated (you move and you hit things), but that being said, they work well. I had no problems with it – like many games on consoles, it's pretty intuitive.
The graphics are... interesting. It's like a more advanced Don't Starve. It's not the most detailed artwork, and it has that really noticeable 3D hinge effects (where you can totally tell where the joints are in the design), but it works. Colors are surprisingly vibrant for such a murky game; while it stays pretty animated, at the same time it goes for some authenticity and style. Basically it fits what you're expecting – just don't be too surprised that things like blood are pretty square.
Gameplay is pretty standard beat-em-up fare; you get the team together, you travel, and you beat everyone, slowly improving as you take on more difficult enemies. The setting of Great Britain during Roman times leads to some pretty inventive gameplay twists. My favorite is the wolf call, where you can call wolves to go after enemies – which is awesome as it is gruesome. With features like that, it does take a little more strategy than the basic rock-paper-scissors of games like Pokémon. If Braveheart, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings had a music baby, that baby would be this game's soundtrack. I liked it. It totally fit the game's style and it's really just cool to listen to. As for sound, the fighting sound effects was pretty typical. Voice acting, on the other hand, was pretty great, and also totally fit the game. Just be prepared for a lot of Scottish accents.
The game did have a few frame rate issues, though with this kind of animation, that's to be expected. At first I thought it was just pacing problems, but no. All the constant moving did slow it down some, and it wasn't that my PS4 was glitching out. Everything else was good, though; I didn't really see any bugs. The game did crash once by hanging during a cutscene, but that never happened again. Make of that what you will.
I highly recommend Wulverblade. It's a great game for passing the time, but you feel like you can drop it when you need to – one of those addictive yet manageable games that is all too rare. A unique setting, good voice/music work, competent gameplay and a few surprises along the way carry it a long way. It's not the most original game out there, but it is really fun.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.