Contrary to popular belief, hunting werewolves would probably be a daunting task with a job mortality rate of close to 100%. Just imagine it: The ferocity of a super-wolf, the absolute bastard nature of man and enough fur to make your couch look like a colony of cats have attacked it, all combined into one horrible and relentless monster that wants to eat your face.
Whoever decides to hunt werewolves for a living, has to have a few screws loose. They’d also need to realise that the Grim Reaper would always be lurking in the corners, as the odds of death would be higher than your chances of losing the lottery. That’s the idea behind Alder’s Blood, a recent and modest Kickstarter success which is close to its projected early 2020 release date now.
It’s a grim and foreboding adventure into darkness, one with some animal cunning of its own that flips the script on the usual man vs monster setup. For starters, you’ve got to deal with the fact that your squishy human frame can’t take too much of a beating from a lone werewolf before you succumb to your wounds, and then you’ve got to realise that if one werewolf gives you a hard time then you’re going to be absolutely buggered when an entire pack zones in on your location.
You’ve only got so much stamina to spare as you skulk about in long grass, move to an advantageous position and use your various hunting skills to whittle the lupine bastard numbers down, lending a feeling of fragility to your group of hunters. The werewolves (and later on in the game, Vampires!) on the other hand, are ferocious and clever beasts. They can catch you in your hiding hole by latching onto your scent, they’re not adverse to calling in reinforcements and they’ll shred your hunters within a turn if you fumble your strategy.
There’s an art then to the turn-based combat, one of hit and run tactics as you switch between blunt force lethality, entrapment skills and using dark magic to banish the foul creatures away from this plane of existence. Between those stages of fight or flight showdowns, you’re also furthering the bleak story, maintaining your camp and organising duties in your nomadic camp.
Visually, the game looks a treat as well. There’s some delightful animation in every action, with the overall style resembling a gorgeous series of woodblock prints and vibrant colours mixed in with the otherwise grim atmosphere. Alder’s Blood isn’t entirely smooth just yet though, with some localisation still needing to be done and a bit more user interface work would be a treat as crowding your prey can lead to a confusing overlap of character text and actions.
Still, it’s an interesting experience that makes you value each turn taken and think several steps ahead in this tight and intriguing vagabond Victorian game where the best way to fight back against monsters is to become a beast of legend yourself.
Last Updated: November 1, 2019