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Review: Sang-Froid - Tales of Werewolves

Artifice Studios Steam Greenlight indie Sang-Froid: A Tale of Werewolves

Developer: Artifice Studios
Publisher: Artifice Studios
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release Date: April 5, 2013
ESRB: N/A (T suggested)

A download code was provided by the publisher for this review



Over the last few years zombies have seen a real resurgence in the world of gaming. That’s fine for the zombie-obsessed hordes out there, but there are a wealth of unusual antagonists to be pulled from. Why don’t we see a wealth of titles about werewolves? They seem a much tougher adversary, being able to run, jump, and overall be more dynamic than the undead.

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Sang-Froid - Tales of Werewolves fills that werewolf void with an interesting first-person tower defense sort of experience. In it, players must defend their home as well as other buildings against waves of beasts. As with any tower defense game, if the buildings have their health reduced to zero, then the player loses. However, things are not controlled completely from a God-like standpoint where all you do is place traps.

The game has two distinct phases. In the first, you position traps and other items via a top-down map. From here, you can view information such as where enemies enter the map and where there are entrances to your land. Placing items onto the map is simple enough, although each has its own action point value. Only a set amount of these points are available per round so you can’t simply fill every inch of land with traps. It is possible to gain some back, but overall you will find tons of traps aren’t a necessity.

After assessing the enemies you’ll be fighting and where they will arrive, players enter into the fray firsthand. The game becomes a third-person action title where you are able to slice enemies with an axe, shoot them, or help spring a trap on unsuspecting wolves. Even with a wealth of health-draining traps, it’s likely that certain enemies will still make it through. Players must always be prepared to fight which is easier said than done.

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It can be a bit of a task to fight well in Sang-Froid due to a few things. For one, the gameplay is a bit stiff. This can cause misfired shots and poorly timed axe swings until you become used to it. Perhaps the bigger annoyance is a stamina meter. Each attack or sprint your character performs drains stamina. If it gets depleted when you fight, you’re unable to perform damaging attacks for the time being. As such, you may be in the middle of fighting a pack of wolves but then suddenly need to jog slowly away - wolves nipping at your heels - until stamina regains.

One low point of the game is that there is a big lull in the middle of it. Once players are accustomed to the main aspects of play, it begins to feel quite repetitive. Enemies change and rounds include stronger ones, but you often feel like the same things keep happening. You set up your favorite traps, watch enemies survive them, and run around to hack them to death. With many early levels lasting only a few minutes as well it becomes easier to feel a sense of deja vu creep in.

Battles are initially easy enough to win without strategy but players won’t last long on pure luck. Outside of battles, you can visit a town to grab new weapons, gear, or even have bullets blessed. If you’re familiar with werewolf lore, then you’ll know that silver bullets are said to be highly effective against werewolves. In order to make use of the town’s wares you’ll need to have some cash. Cash is accrued through the successful killing of monsters on your property during fights. Beyond that, the player is also able to level up their various skills after each successful night. Upgrades include faster reload times, more money per kill, health regeneration, and a lot more.

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Despite being subtitled “Tales of Werewolves”, there is a lot more to the game than werewolves. As you’ll see while playing, a handful of fantasy creatures appear, such as will-o’-the-wisps. The Devil also plays a role in the game which lends to the unusual story that is told. Players will probably find their opinions split on whether they enjoy the story or not, but it was written by the best-selling Canadian author Bryan Perro. As such, the world is unique enough to draw in some.

Music in Sang-Froid is most unexpected high point for me. Just by loading up the game, players are treated to a fantastic song and the great audio only continues as you play. Much of it sounds rustic, folksy, and sometimes even eerie or mystical. This fits perfectly with the world that is being portrayed. It is so distinct that other players will likely feel the same, regardless of their enjoyment of gameplay aspects.

The experience provided by this game is one which is definitely going to appeal to some, but repel many others. WHen it comes right down to it, players must assess if they can handle its issues or not. If you do not mind a game that’s sort of clunky, and sometimes too-similar play, then check it out. Sang-Froid provides an interesting concept and world to defend if you can readily don your strategic cap.

 

Pros:

+ Interesting cast of enemies with different skills
+ Many ways to upgrade your character and his arsenal
+ Various traps to be unlocked during play

Cons:

- Imprecise, sometimes sluggish controls in battle
- Some battles feel quite unfair
- Levels feel samey after a while


 

Overall Score: 6 (out of 10)
Decent


Sang-Froid presents a great deal of interesting ideas that don't quite pan out. Still, lovers of creative tower defense games will likely devour it.




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