Indie games these days are now gaining popularity and the attention of mainstream gamers. Some moved on to become monster hits such as the Torchlight series and Castle Crashers while some won at the Spike Video Game Awards (Minecraft & Journey).
Here’s an Indie unique in its own right: it’s of the survival horror genre, packed with a clever balance of strategy, action, shooter and RPG elements with an engaging story co-written by best-selling Canadian author Bryan Perro. This is Sang-Froid (pronounced sang-fwa): Tales of Werewolves.
The story: it’s a cold winter of December 5, 1858 at snowy Lower Canada. Two brothers Jos & Jack O’Carroll must defend their young sister Josephine from the clutches of the Devil himself, who employs Lycans/Werewolves to do his bidding. Werewolves in this lore are ordinary wolves possessed by corrupted souls of humans, transforming into the familiar anthropomorphic forms we all know. To complicate things, the Maikans, a race of Skinwalkers (shape-shifters who also transform into humanoid wolves) want the “white-skins” (humans) out of their forest, believing that their presence destroys and corrupts the land.
You, the player must choose from one of the O’Carroll brothers and protect your lodge from invasions of these paranormal forces. You have until December 24, Christmas Eve to survive.
The game is separated into 2 sections: Dawn and Night. Dawn is where the Strategy part comes to play where you install traps/defenses around the forest perimeter. As you progress, other landmarks will unlock at different parts of the forest, enlarging your area of responsibility and effectively making it difficult.
Luckily you won’t be defending blind. Your sister Josephine has “omens” that allow her to discern the kind and numbers of monsters that will attack, including the number of waves and even their specific pathways! Use this pre-emptive knowledge to your advantage in setting up your defenses!
The number and types of traps you can deploy are limited by your AP (action points), as well as your current cash-on-hand. Some traps are free, but all require AP. During this time of the day you may also visit the village of Wolvesvale where you can stock up on consumables and equipment. You may have your armaments blessed (more on this later). Out of money? No problem! Use any remaining unused AP to log down trees. Although any unused AP will be converted to money later anyway, it won’t yield as much as logging. Once you’re done, check your defenses carefully to see if their strategic placements are effective.
Night time is where the Action and Shooting takes place. It’s time to defend! Enemies come in waves & their different types make their vulnerabilities vary. Some are weak against holy/blessed weapons (hence why it’s vital to visit the convent earlier to have them blessed) while some are weak against Silver. Some enemies are vulnerable or even immune to certain traps.
When your traps can’t deal with them, it’s up to you to finish them off the old-fashioned way: cleave them with your axe and/or shoot holes into their skulls! Cleaving, as well as sprinting depletes your stamina, and when you get tired, you’ll lose a lot of attack power and you’ll pause for a breath, leaving enemies an opening to attack. Stamina replenishes by drinking beer so you can continue the slaughtering.
Shooting is in 3rd-person perspective. You may fire only 1 bullet at a time, and after every shot you must reload your musket, which takes time. You can deal extreme damage by doing a headshot, but with a pack of wolves in front of you it may pose a problem. Do take note that some traps require you to shoot /cleave them to activate, so don’t waste ammo!
Your performance at night will heavily depend on how well you strategically placed your defenses during the day. If you get a panic attack or feel you’re losing, you may choose to restart at Dawn to renew your defenses, or at night to redo the battle.
At the end of each night, you earn money to spend for traps and experience to level up, which in turn grants you a skill point. Should you fail the night, you will get little experience (if you level up this way you’ll still get a skill point). The game has a very simple skill tree so upgrade/learn the skills that suits your play style! Are you a melee fighter or a good shot? Perhaps you want to augment your traps’ effectiveness or your ability to get money? There are different possibilities for different players.
You may go back in time to replay previews days, but with one caveat: you will lose ALL progress, including skill points, money and experience after that chosen day. It’s logical, since nobody can go back in time after all. The game treats it like whatever you did earlier never happened.
So, summarizing the game as a whole, here are my personal thoughts:
- The music is top-caliber, one of the game’s strongest points.
- Environment graphics are eye-catching, especially the Blood Moon.
- The skill tree’s simplicity makes it easy for players to mold their characters that suit their play style.
- The story is in my opinion well-written. Then again, a real novelist did write it.
- Very little incentive to replay the game after clearing both normal and hard mode.
- Content is very limited, but it’s only Tome 1, implying a sequel.
- Voice acting is mediocre, to some it’s ok, to some it sucks.
- The graphic novel presentation may be good or bad, it depends on the player’s taste.
- The gameplay is a jack-of-all-trades. Multiple genres cater to tastes of different people, so some may complain that its imperfections don’t make it “true shooters” or “true ARPGs”.
Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves Tome 1 is available for pre-purchase at Steam for $14 but officially releases on April 6, 2013. Pre-purchasing it now gives you immediate access to the Beta. Although the developers are currently fine-tuning the game, it’s an impressive title worthy of gracing your Steam Library. Perhaps the only thing missing in this game is that it needs to be released on consoles. Like many other Beta players out there, I can’t wait for Tome 2!
Helpful links: Official site – http://www.sangfroidgame.com/ Steam store – http://store.steampowered.com/
Thanks again to Franz Sy for contributing this review to the cause and for the major pimpage on his forum, Super Robot Wars Genesis. If you’d like to contribute to 30lives, hit us up!