Review Context: I enjoy turn-based RPGs, especially games that try to put their own spin on it.
Date of Playthrough: December 2921
PC Specs Game Played on:
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-9700F CPU @ 3.00GHz
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER
Disclosure; This review is based off of a review copy provided for free.
Wolfstride, developed by Ota Imon Studios, is a game that I was immediately drawn to when I first saw the trailer earlier in the year because of its beautiful black and white visual style with original turn-based based RPG combat involving mechs. After playing some of the demo I came away with a positive feeling, but after finishing the game I found out that Wolfstride is much more than a turn-based RPG experience. The story rich world that takes place in Rain City is deeper and more fleshed out than I had anticipated.
As a turn-based RPG gamer, that was my calling to play Wolfstride, but the game takes a bit of time to get to the core turn-based RPG gameplay I wanted to get to. Instead, you get treated to wonderful fully voiced cutscenes that help lay the foundation to the beginning of very good storytelling. You’re introduced to mech pilot, Knife Leopard, and the inciting event that gives you Cowboy, the mech you’ll be using and upgrading in the game, You’ll be playing as Dominic Shade, someone who is introduced with little background in the beginning, but more is revealed as you play. The game does a good job of slowly rolling out and introducing a solid ensemble of characters that you will care about and want to learn more. It doesn’t hurt that the entire game is fully voiced with very good voice acting and all of the characters have distinguishable personalities. The dialogue contains a lot of humor and some pop culture references, especially from Peepoo, a robot you’ll be meeting and interacting with a lot. The story is somewhat confusing at times in the beginning with many hidden voices, but stick with it because everything fits and falls into place by the end of the game.
Wolfstride’s 2D gameplay allows you to go to certain parts of Rain City and interact with the various characters. Cowboy, the mech you acquire, requires upgrades that aren’t cheap, but Dominic can work jobs to get the currency to afford new moves and stronger mech parts. The game does a good job of meaningfully integrating gameplay elements into the story so they don’t seem tacked on. I don’t love that gameplay is controlled by only using keyboard with no mouse controls. This is negatively experienced the most while doing the jobs using WASD. Still, that did not really hold back from my experience because the controls are really straightforward and not many keys are used in the game in general. The core gameplay has you spending most of the time in The Hangar where the mech is, along with all of your team members. I appreciate the design of The Hangar and Rain City because it’s easy to move around, complete tasks, and move the story along without never being confused.
The turn-based combat is very well done and easy to understand. I’ve never played an RPG with a combat system that emphasizes spacing to use moves on a bottom horizontal bar with grids. Very early in the game you soon realize that you’re competing for the Ultimate Golden God Worldwide Mech Championship. The mech battles are not only events in the story with plenty of background for each mech opponent, but the combat animations and visuals turn each battle into a very entertaining sequence. There are a few different playstyles you can use with Cowboy as you buy new moves, but it’s up to you whether to mix move range types or focus on one. The list of moves to buy isn’t overwhelming, and I was easily able to keep up or stay ahead of the next mech opponent’s difficulty. There is a final boss of the game that was the only real challenge I faced the entire game. I recommend stocking up on cash and staying as current as possible whenever you can with your upgrades. The game also has an option within the story where you can can face opponents without a repair penalty, but also gain rewards.
The game’s black and white visuals mixed with the animations of each major story moment puts this game on another level of storytelling. Although there were times when the dialogue dragged and certain messages said in dialogue seemed overly forced, it’s still a very well written script. Dominic Shade is the protagonist, but you also develop opinions of all the characters. I found myself constantly guessing what actions all the characters might take. The sound mixing and soundtrack in general also adds so much to the story experience, Although the mech turn-based gameplay is the big selling point to play Wolfstride, it felt secondary and not the main course of the actual experience. I’m fine with that. The game does have two different endings and there is a ‘correct’ ending. I advise players to save the game before making that choice.
After walking away from my Wolfstride experience I can easily say it’s one of my favorite games of 2021. The memorable voice acting of Knife Leopard, Peepoo (robot), Bounty Hog (pig), and Duque (dog) will stick with me the most. With Ota Imon Studios’ quality storytelling, the nineteen hours that I spent playing flew by really quickly. I can’t wait to see what Ota Imon Studios does next. I’m now a fan.
Similar Games Liked:
Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) (vaguely)
Undertale (PC) (memorable characters)