It’s rare to see a video game be paired with a history lesson and still be bloody entertaining. Luckily that is exactly what WulverBlade from Fully Illustrated and Darkwind Media, which showcases a bloody battle between the barbaric Norse tribes and the Roman Army in 120 AD Britannia.
Wulverblade focuses on three guardians of the North tribes, Caradoc, Brennus, and Guinevere – nicknamed the Wulvers for their ability to hunt and fight alongside wolves and their general wolf-like appearance – as they fight the invading Roman army and the traitorous tribes that follow them.
The story is a basic revenge plot that does exactly enough to make the Wulver’s a group of badasses and the Romans as evil conquerers who need to be shown the pointy end of a blade. However it is the presentation that sells the story, with collectible items that gives us back story, to historic videos and informal writings about the history of the locations, weapons and characters that you meet.
Where Wulver Blade really shines is in its tribute to the old-school beat’em ups like Golden Axe. Players pick of the three Wulvers each with their own specs – Caradoc is well-rounded, Guinevere is quick but weak with a bonus aerial moves, and Brennus is a hulking brute. As in normal 2D brawler action, players are tasked with clearing all the opponents from the battleground by performing a variety of attacks, however Wulverblade doesn’t shy from having a large amount of violence behind it.
Still there is more to the combat than just hack’n’slashing your way through everyone, throwable items are aplenty in the game, from daggers, axes and hammers to the severed limbs of your opponents, including their heads, all can be used to lower your opponent’s guard and do a decent amount of damage. Heavier weapons can be found on the battlefield, from Great Swords to Giant Axes, which can help keep combos going and litter the field with more limbs to throw. Environmental hazards are also in play with fire, spikes and more to deliver instant kills (or stun effects on bosses). All of these features combined makes WulverBlade a surprisingly deep beat’em up, that would still feel at home with the long-gone Arcade days of the past.
The art in WulverBlade is also one of its better qualities, featuring brutal one-shots for story sequences and flowing animation in battles which can be especially noticed in boss battles and fights against giant baddies. The music and audio are also spot on, keeping you pumped for another round of merciless beat’em up action and remaining historically accurate to the time and setting.
WulverBlade sets out to accomplish being a historical beat’em up that is easy to pick up and play, and it is safe to say it extends itself on that goal. It fits perfectly in the Arcade beat’em ups of old and its couch co-op focus makes it easy to pick up and play but still be deep enough that you won’t get bored slicing up everyone that stands in your way.