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Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves (PC) artwork

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves (PC) review

"The ultimate tale of good beards vs. evil werewolves!"

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves (PC) image

The sun sets over the frosty French-Canadian woods. You stand just outside of your cabin, your anxiety rising, the steady thrum of your heartbeat and the soughing wind are the only sounds you hear. Swigs from your flask may take the edge off of your agitation, but they do nothing to assuage the pure, cold terror that runs through your body as the first of the howls cut through the night air. Others join it soon after, filling you with utter despair and self-doubt. You wonder if maybe your scheme won't work out and you'll be overwhelmed, eventually falling victim to the devil's emissaries. Regardless of your trepidation, you wait and keep your ears open, trying to listen through the boom in your chest and chilly whisper of the air.

Before your knees can quite knock, the wind carries of the first tidbits of good news. The hellacious bays you previously heard have subsided, replaced with the mechanical crack of traps and the crunch of shattering wolf bones. A SNIKT! also sounds in the distance, followed by the pained cries of dying lycanthropes. Finally, you peer out before you, remembering a barrel of gunpowder you left in yonder field. You also happen to notice a pack of snarling anthropomorphs drawing near it, their sights apparently set for your homestead. With a careful aim and a steady hand, you squeeze your musket's trigger. A vicious crack fills the air, pellets fly and connect with the barrel. The once-menacing snarls of your foes evaporate, drowned out by an earth-shaking roar. The field glows with a powerful explosion and your opponents vanish, their smoldering pieces now lining the forest floor. Unfortunately, you realize that the last of this nightmarish contingent hasn't retired yet. Axe in hand, you rush into the blackness, ready to activate the rest of your toys and delight in the slaughter of evil.

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves (PC) image

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves is most enjoyable when you witness a well thought out plan come together, resulting in a pile of monstrous corpses. It's not during the moments when you engage beasts in hand-to-hand combat or the wonky cutscenes that you feel most exhilarated. Rather, it's during occasions when you fire a mortar and bump off six werewolves, all of them distracted by a tasty morsel left on the ground. It's when you successfully bury a ballista missile in a windigo's chest or vanquish a gang of will-o'-the-wisps with the righteous power of the Wayside Cross, a divine device designed to exorcise malevolent spirits. More than that, the game is most rewarding when you gaze at a mission's layout, carefully lay traps so as to mitigate the amount of potential melee combat, and sit by while portions of your foes either fall victim to your strategic prowess or soften up from the blows they sustain. I will admit, too, that it fills my heart with glee when I put a trap-weakened beast out of its misery.

Your objective in each chapter is not merely to bury your axe in a bunch of meandering human-canine hybrids. As it turns out, you've got some towers wooden constructs to defend. Along with from your own cabin, which houses your brother and catatonic sister, there's also a hermitage, a church, a sawmill, and a chicken coop to defend. Should any of them fall in the course of the night, then it's curtains for you. This is where careful consideration for trap placement really pays off, especially when you have two distinct groups of monsters heading for two different locales. That's when you must take certain measures to either defeat one gang quickly or stymie the efforts of a certain gaggle. For instance, you could build a firewall, which prevents enemies from taking a particular path. That way you can reroute their forces and send them down a longer avenue, thereby granting you more time to prepare for their arrival or deal with another pest elsewhere.

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves (PC) image

Sadly, you can't just inundate the maze-like forest with traps and sit on your butt whilst everything croaks, because there are limitations on the traps you place. Each traps costs "AP" (action points), and some even drain your wallet. Only through vanquishing the forces of darkness and selling some of your more antiquated items can you replenish your cash. However, you must always consider what is more important: a butt load of traps, a new axe or musket, potions and stiff drinks (read: temporary buffs), or various other provisions (e.g. ammo, blessings for your equipment, accessories, etc). Purchasing armloads of traps too often might prevent you from nabbing that shiny new axe at the blacksmith's cottage in town, or vice versa.

What's most impressive about the game's strategy elements is that they aren't overwhelming. The game offers you an adequate number of tutorials and doesn't bog you down with too many new features at one time. Moreover, you're not required to bump off your targets with traps alone. Those who survive your initial onslaught earn the honor of being put down the old fashion way: with musket balls and painful chops!

Engaging an adversary in combat is not a matter of simply mashing the left mouse button and turning your brain off. For starters, your character has a finite amount of stamina, and forcing him to cut loose a flurry of blows will only exhaust him and leave him vulnerable. Instead of attempting to dance your opponents to death, it's best to keep an eye on a few indicators in addition to your stamina. A wolf paw hovering over a foe indicates which one will attack next, for example. There's also a meter at the bottom of the screen that represents that adversary's level of fear. Over time, the meter will slowly deplete, and when the creature has shed its fear it will bare its fangs and pounce.

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves (PC) image

Unfortunately, it's through combat that you'll experience some of the game's most glaring flaws. For starters, colliding with foes is awkward. Simply touching them doesn't damage you, but they can move your character by running against him, making it needlessly difficult to size up even rudimentary swipes at times. This is especially painful when you're against a large group. That's when battle devolves into wild swings, hoping that enough of your attacks will connect and take out a monster, all because you're constantly being shifted around by the thrashing mob before you. One other aggravating nuance is the camera. No, I'm not referring to "ass-cam" or anything terrible like that, but Sang-Froid's beasties have a tendency to run towards the bottom of the screen, causing you to constantly rotate the camera in order to see them.

Poor voice acting also plagues the Sang-Froid experience, bombarding you with some instances of overacting or cheesy line readings. The worst tend to be the villagers, whose vocal tones are reminiscent of those used by voice actors in claymation Christmas specials.

Honestly, though, I didn't sign up for Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves because I was itching for a moving yarn. All I wanted was an action title with engaging strategic/tower defense elements, and in that realm the game passes with flying colors. Sure, it fails to tell a fierce tale and it's kind of annoying having to rotate the camera all the frickin' time, but the game's combination of light strategy, survival elements, and caution-based combat make it a winner.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (October 27, 2014)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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