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Wulverblade – The Switch Island Review

The Cooper Trooper Series – Reviews of Multiplayer Experiences on Switch

At its core, Wulverblade is an old-school side-scrolling beat-em-up. Predictably, there are three characters to choose from – Caradoc, Guinevere or Brennus – and the set-up has you fighting your way through hordes and legions (quite literally, in this case). Move sideways, avoid hits, combine attacks, throw stuff you pick up; if you’ve played Golden Axe you’ll be right at home. There’s even the same classes of heroes: Caradoc is your all-rounder, Guinevere is more nimble but fragile, Brennus is slow but strong. We’ve been here before.

But Wulverblade has serious atmosphere and style. It was quite obviously a labour of love for the Manchester-based developers. Its cartoon stylings are gorgeous. I frequently felt the need to gush about the art direction with my co-op partner. And it all flows really well: the character movement is responsive and fun. Coupled with the naturalistic sound effects and the properly-accented Northerners, I found I was grinning a lot.

The game is bloodthirsty. There are chopped limbs and spurting bloodstreams, and shouts for help. But there’s history too. Seriously. As you play you’ll find documents and objects that have text pop-ups, on which you can read all about battles, locations and weapons. Historical accuracy has never been so fun (and did I mention the believable accents?!). I can’t say I read all the historical documents, but I definitely appreciate them being there. 

The motivation to keep playing was always there for us. We found the story compelling. Being part of a tribe fighting for their lands, for their lives, for their freeeeeedddoooommmm, well, when hasn’t that been fun?! All the best stories follow the underdog. And there are some lovely animated cutscenes along the way, with much posturing and name-calling. 

The game is definitely a challenge. Even in co-op we died quite a lot. Each stage has at least one checkpoint, but you do restart with the health that you got to the checkpoint with, so it pays to tread carefully. I probably would have real trouble completing it in single player mode.

Like its many beat-em-up predecessors, Wulverblade is a blast in co-op. And it’s fairly strait-forward to set-up. One aspect to note is we did have to add the second controller before starting the game, we weren’t able to do this from the game’s title screen. But, once you start, it’s plain sailing and each player has plenty to get on with and doesn’t get in the other’s way. Also, to add spice, both players get ranked after each stage, so there’s a bit of competitive tension alongside the cooperative play.

Old-school side-scrolling beat-em-up with a feisty lick of blood. 

If you’re a fan of the genre, I would say this is a must-play. If you like good, tough co-op experiences then give this a good hard look. The only issues I had were the lengthy load times and the slight annoyance of leaving the game to add a second player. But, those issues are minor. History lessons were always at their best when they featured death, betrayal and lots of gore, and Wulverblade is no exception. 

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