I’m sure we’ve all come across werewolves in our time, be it in film, a game or a hallucinogenically-induced real life encounter. Regardless of where they are found, it’s usually the case that they’re just some bloodthirsty brute on a rampage for their next meaty meal. That’s not quite the case with Sang Froid: Tales of Werewolves. In this little game, something far more sinister is afoot.
Sang Froid: Tales of Werewolves isn’t a game that will blow you away, nor is it going to offer up anything particularly new or exciting, but what it does do is provide a good simple bit of fun to fill your gaming needs between one AAA title and another. The core mechanics are sound – if a little bland.
For instance, the combat is really rather dull, comprising of a button-mashing melee attack with your woodsman’s axe and a slightly useless ranged weapon (a musket, rifle or shotgun) which is only useful at setting off traps and annoying the bigger foes. You can kill some of the lesser wolves with one shot but they come is such quantity that you may as well save the bullet. However the relatively basic mechanics don’t mean that combat is easy, it is in fact quite challenging with the number of grey-furred fiends you have to face, some of which are very hard to take down, even on their own.
That’s what traps are for. Every day you prepare for the monsters that go bump in the night, and then spend the whole night fighting the clumsy beasts (god only knows when our lumberjack finds time to sleep). The act of setting up traps, or rather the general preparation for the night is your typical affair – spend action points and money setting traps and building zip wires, go to town, buy better equipment, more bullets, chop wood, and then kill some beasties.
You have a skill tree and a levelling system to provide points to skill up with. The skill tree is nicely fleshed out with plenty of potential to customize your character, but the level requirements for some skills were something I felt slowed down my ability to play the game in the way I wanted to. For instance, I aimed to invest in money-making skills so that I would have been a rich yet comparably weak lumberjack (a slight contradiction in terms, I know), relying on expensive traps and clever tactics to get the job done. Instead, I found myself using brute force more than anything else.
When someone initially described Sang Froid to me as a defense-style game, I thought along the lines of tower defense and Orks Must Die, but it really isn’t a defense game in that sense – which left me a little disappointed. I realise the developers were not going for a traditional defense game, but some elements would have fitted nicely into Sang Froid - for instance, being able to hire some local lumberjacks from the company to help defend your home and add some extra manpower would have been a nice addition.
The story is like something out of a good old – but mediocre – horror film. You follow two brothers looking after and protecting their poorly sister, who is being pursued by Lucifer (and his many minions) himself. The tongue-in-cheek delivery makes it almost enjoyable – if only the voice acting were up to the job. Some of the voice actors are actually pretty good, helping to make the rather awkward dialogue scenes convincing, although some of that hard-won immersion is broken by the few poor voice actors who sound like characters from a budget US family drama – you know, the kind of stuff you see on True Movies.
There is some consolation to be found, however, in the form of the beautifully drawn cut scenes you get from time to time, and also the fact that it’s probably not the story you are looking for when you buy a game like this. This seems like the perfect basis for a co-op campaign but alas, there is no such mode. Not only would the addition of a co-op mode be a huge improvement on the game, but it makes perfect sense as well.
Graphically the game is patchy at best; poor textures and jagged models are to be found all over the place, but again the style of the game saves it a little along with some well-executed animations. Nothing like a wolf or twelve slinking around you, teeth bared, to make you feel a little overwhelmed.
Sang Froid: Tales of Werewolves is a game with a good concept, but sadly fails to move up from the “just above average” category. It’s rough around the edges but definitely a load of fun, although you will soon be playing this to fulfil that strange compulsion we all get to level up and get hold of that new axe, as opposed to following the story or having a damn good laugh with your friends.
Sang Froid: Tales of Werewolves is out now on PC.
- It’s satisfying to see the traps you set in the day, take out beasts in the night
- Spooky, supernatural locale makes for a nice backdrop to the action
- Refreshing and unique premise
- Awkward in-game cutscenes take away from the atmosphere the story is trying so hard to create