Sang-Froid – Tales of Werewolves
As I explained in my preview, “Sang-Froid – Tales of Werewolves” is a clash of tower defense, action, and RPG elements that tasks the player with defending lumberjacks and their families from the forces of evil. The setting? Canada, circa 1858. This means that you won’t have hi-tech laser pistols and the like to fend off the beasts that you’ll be taking on…rather, you’ll be armed with a rifle, an axe, and a wide variety of traps. Before we get started, I’d like to thank Vincent Blanchard from Artifice Studio for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu allows the player to start a new game, continue an existing one, change profiles, and adjust keybinds & game options. The options menu addresses screen resolution, audio, draw distance, mouse sensitivity, anti-aliasing, shadow quality, and a few other things. Starting a new game involves choosing a character (medium or hard difficulty levels) and being introduced to the story and gameplay mechanics. A handy calendar will keep you abreast of your progress throughout the story.
In terms of progression, levels are broken up into days. During the day, you’ll be setting traps via an area map. You’ll be able to see which creatures you’ll be facing and in what wave they’ll spawn in. The game even tells you which point of interest a particular creature will be attacking and the path they intend to take to get there. At night, you’ll switch to third person view and take an active role in dispensing of the creatures with the help of the traps you set during the day. The objective is to kill all of the creatures before they destroy one of the primary buildings that you’ve been tasked with protecting. If you’re successful, you’ll be rewarded with money and be allowed to play the next day and watch the storyline progress. The farther along you get in the game, the more buildings you’ll need to protect. This can be challenging since they’re often far away from each other.
There’s a ton of strategy in “Sang-Froid – Tales of Werewolves”, mainly due to the sheer amount of options you’ll have to make your days successful ones. Not only will you have the freedom to place traps where you’d like during the day, but you’ll need to account for the waves and the type of creatures involved. Some creatures are more vulnerable to certain traps, so it’s important to place them correctly lest the wrong creature from the wrong wave set them off. There’s also the matter of being in the right place at the right time. The battlefield is fairly big, meaning that you won’t be able to be everywhere at once. The player will be forced to think about which monsters their traps should handle and which monsters they themselves should personally handle.
While proper planning is vital to winning, you won’t be able to do much if you don’t have the right tools for the job. After a few days go by, you’ll be able to purchase supplies in town to restock things like bullets and etc. during the day. You can also upgrade your axe/rifle, buy better bullets, and even purchase disposal buffs that you can use during the night to give yourself an edge. Churches can bless bullets and weapons for a price, making them more effective against the creatures you’ll need to dispose of yourself. Doing all of this costs money, and it’s worth noting that you’ll need money to build some of those traps during the day phase. Funds are limited and the challenge is finding that proper balance between character development and having enough left over for traps.
Speaking of character development, your character will level up and earn skill points. I was very pleased by the size of the tech tree and the variety of skills I was presented with. I could put points into improving various traps if I wanted to, or focus on personal abilities. There are even skills that allow you to earn more money when performing various actions. The question is, how will you mold your character? Will you build a powerhouse character that can take on the toughest of foes or will you design your character to give your traps and wallet an edge? These RPG elements help to give the game even more strategic depth.
As you may have imagined, fighting off the forces of evil with an axe and rifle is pretty darn tough. Fortunately, you’ll have a number of things at your disposal to help give you an edge, one of which being the fear mechanic. You see, creatures won’t necessarily attack you, especially when they are afraid of you. The longer they circle and stalk you, the less afraid they become. When a creature’s fear meter reaches a certain point, it will attack, unless you give it reason not to. Bonfires, for example, raise the amount of fear a creature needs to overcome by a large amount allowing you to sit back and shoot them while they circle. Trust me, you’ll need all the help you can get, especially since rifles of the 1850s aren’t the hi-tech beasts that they are today. You’ll have to take the time to reload after each shot and ammo is limited, so you won’t be able to just sit there and fire recklessly.
Difficulty is a mixed bag. Before I touch on that, I want to commend the game for its in-depth tutorial system. Every new mechanic is explained via a detailed video, and you’ll see them well past the first few levels. While the first few levels do ease the player into the basic gameplay mechanics, you’ll quickly be scrambling to figure out how best to use the trap you’ve just been given…some being more automated than others. I had to restart a day a number of times until I managed to get the trap mechanics right. With that said, I feel that this game could benefit from an easier difficulty level. As it stands, the game doesn’t forgive poor planning and all it takes is one lost building to result in the day’s failure. Casual players may be intimidated / frustrated by this and to that end, I really think introducing a difficulty to where the monsters are slower and weaker would help the game appeal to a wider audience.
In the end, “Sang-Froid – Tales of Werewolves” is an incredibly deep and strategic game. It’s well-polished and is the type of game that will make you think about each and every move you make, whether it be during the planning stage or when the action starts. While the tutorials are excellent, some may find the game a bit too difficult…it certainly made me work for each and every victory. In fact, the difficulty is probably my only real complaint, though it’s a fairly relevant one. I’d be incredibly happy if a casual mode could be introduced that reduced the movement speed of enemy mobs, giving me more time to react on the battlefield. I also would have liked to have been able to play the earlier levels repeatedly to gain experience/skills/money and make the tough missions I’m stuck on a bit easier. The game has a price tag of $14.99, which is more than generous for the amount of content that the game offers, in my opinion. If you’ve been craving a fun, challenging, and in-depth tower defense game, then look no further than “Sang-Froid – Tales of Werewolves”. Just remember…patience is a virtue!
Final Verdict: 8/10
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