Header Ads

Wolfstride Preview: An Anime-Inspired RPG That Runs On Bebop

Anyone disappointed in Netflix's adaptation of the anime classic Cowboy Bebop may find what they're looking for in Wolfstride, an RPG that takes more than a little inspiration from the work of Shinichirō Watanabe. The game's main crew rotates around keeping a mech in fighting shape rather than hunting bounties in deep space, but all the familiar tropes fall into place before too long. This is fortunate, as Wolfstride's style and worldbuilding do the heavy lifting throughout its opening chapters.

Wolfstride throws onlookers right into the action and fills in the backstory later. Main character Shade is the mastermind behind the operation, and players guide him around town to do odd jobs and keep everything afloat. In some ways, he recalls Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes fame, and players can perform odd-job minigames to earn extra cash. However, unlike most gaming protagonists, Shade doesn't dive into battle. That honor belongs to Knife Leopard, a pilot with endless optimism who prevents his two partners from selling out on the dream of giant robot glory.

Related: Video And Tabletop Games Pacific Rim Fans Will Enjoy

With full voice acting and natural banter, Wolfstride feels like tuning into a Japanese classic. Outside of a mechanical sidekick that could be Claptrap's cousin in the next Borderlands, each new character gets a distinctive introduction that shows off their boisterous personalities. Conversations never drag despite their considerable length, which just goes to show how OTA IMON Studio has nailed a low-key hangout vibe that makes everything feel a very particular kind of cool.

The rest of Wolfstride isn't as enjoyable as simply listening to the characters trade barbs, but it gets the job done. There's an attempt at some sort of exploration around town, but it's more Shenmue's sleepy villages than Yakuza's bustling cityscapes. Between fights, Shade runs from place to place, but it rarely feels like anything happens on the way to a destination. There also doesn't seem to be a lot of optional or hidden conversations to find, which makes the decision to have the player run Shade from place to place feel off. Any attempt at exploration just leads to an extended walking sequence and a dead end, which is frustrating in a world that feels so alive whenever the player isn't in control.

The giant robot fighting is a better fit than the walking sections, offering a unique turn-based system that has clear potential. Players can switch out mech parts and give Knife new attacks as if he was a Pokémon, although not before learning the basics. There is a pretty long tutorial to start things off, and the arbitrary limits placed on the player during this time can be a bit frustrating. With the real action seemingly awaiting just beyond the confines of the preview build, it's unclear if Wolfstride's combat can ever hope to surpass its excellent character work. Even if it doesn't, the unique setup is certainly something to see.

The various punches and shoves of each bout are just one showcase of Wolfstride's visual variety. The graphics go from realistic close-ups of the cast and the robots to pixelated goodness around town, all colored in the same shades of gray that lie in each hero's past. Just like the dialogue encapsulates the best of action-animation, the character portraits feel ripped straight from the pages of Shonen Jump. It's a stylish aesthetic that makes the game hard to put down, pushing through monotonous wandering and the occasional groan-inducing joke.

Related: Override 2: Super Mech League Review - Hit The Eject Button

Wolfstride feels like a love letter to the types of shows that forged anime fandoms, and this dedication to an authentic presentation more than makes up for gameplay shortcomings and an overlong tutorial. The combat is more approachable than something like MechWarrior 5, with layers of strategy that could be great if it develops over the course of the adventure. If Wolfstride gets out of its own way and lets players kick things into full gear, it will easily rise above the noise of an extremely busy December and attract fans of anime action and mecha alike.

Next: Silicon City Preview: A Retro City Builder With A Twist

Wolfstride releases on PC on December 7, 2021 and on Nintendo Switch in 2022. Screen Rant was provided a Steam copy of the game for the purposes of this preview.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.