Review: Canadians, Whiskey and Werewolves in SANG-FROIDA game review article by: Dylan Tano
Do you like wolves? How about werewolves? What about hunting werewolves? What about a Canadians hunting werewolves? What about whiskey-drinkin’, Canadian werewolf hunters? You do? Excellent! Then Sang Froid: Tales of Werewolves; developed by Artifice Studio, is right up your alley. Part-tower defense, part-action game, you’ll play one of two Canadian brothers doing their best to defend their farm -- and later, their town -- from wolves, werewolves and even the devil himself. The reason? Well, your dear sister has fallen under some kind of spell. The plus side is that she tells you the when, the where and the how many of your enemy are coming each night. The downside is that they are coming for her. So, your goal is to protect your dear sister. Along the way, you’ll have to put aside your differences with your brother and save various town members.
The game centers around the mechanics. The tower defense part has you setting traps during the first phase, before the enemies flood the area during the second. This means, in some cases, you’ll have to go activate the traps yourself. Net traps, for instance, activate when you shoot them with your musket. The game operates in two phases -- as I just mentioned -- a day phase and a night phase. The day phase is where you will do all of your planning. From setting your traps to buying supplies, you’ll plan out and prepare yourself for the horror that the night will bring... and you’ll want to plan well. You aren’t going to just be planning your traps, but where you’ll be at any certain time and place. You’ll need to be there to set off some traps. If you don’t plan well... you’ll die. Pretty simple concept. It is “do or die” every night, so you best do your best during the day. The game does give you ample ways to plan and prepare. You’ll have action points to spend during the day that allow you to pick and plan your strategy. You can bless your bullets, buy new traps and even chop some trees to earn cash to better your defense.
The night phase is where you’ll put your careful planning to the test. You are going to have remember everything you planned. These guys are a lot stronger than you are (even if you are Canadian). Aside from the luxury of fighting on your own turf, you’ll also have a fear factor on your side. This is a pretty nifty little mechanic that helps you slow down your enemy attacks. The wolves and werewolves are scared of fire and you can intimidate the regular wolves. This slows down their attack phases and you can take that time to recharge your stamina (an energy bar that allows you to swing your axe and run) or time a well placed axe blow. This isn’t a game centered around swinging your axe all willy nilly. Just like the traps you set you are going to want to plan your attacks carefully. This is methodical. Even your musket only gets one shot before you must reload. You can’t lay down traps as you go, so what you place in the day phase is all you get. The game does offer a nice selection of tutorial videos that help you explain what each trap does in case you start to have a hard time. And you will. This is not an easy game, especially if you don’t like to plan. The action portion of the game can be a little clunky, but since this is primarily a strategy game, it isn’t that big of a deal.
The game itself is full of Canadian charm. The music that plays throughout the game is authentic Canadian folk music. The story, written by Canadian author Bryan Perro (whom I have admittedly never heard of) feels like a lot like a regular Canadian folktale. If I had ever read any at least. It is more than that, though. The skill tree your character has is soaking in Canadian Whiskey goodness. The names of the skills you’ll learn, like saw mill, all have their own Northern feel. It is quite charming, actually, and works really well with the overall feel of the game.
The art is kind of centered around a cartoony, Grimm Fairy Tale style that pops off the screen. The lighting effects during the night add a great presence to these creatures of the night that you defend your sister, your home and your town from. The map you use to plan out your defense has a great feel to it, like you’re working on a map of your territory. It helps immerse you in the experience.
Sang Froid isn’t easy, by any means. If you didn’t plan well, then you should expect to be some wolf’s dinner. It is fun though, you can’t blame the game for your losses because you planned out your entire defense. Is it perfect? No, there are glitches and the game lacks a bit of polish. Is it fun? Hell yes it is! At the end of the day, that is what really matters and Artifice Studio has delivered a fun and methodical experience that should be right up the alley of just about any strategy game player.
When Dylan Tano isn't floating amongst the clouds in his beautiful balloon, you can find him up to his ears in work at Comics Bulletin. As a fellow writer once said, if he gets paid in the morning, then he's drunk in the afternoon. He dwells in the realms of video games and comic books, writing about both till he is either drunk or delirious. He has yet to confuse the two but his editors are working on it. If he had it his way, all robots would have pain receptors.
You can follow him on Twitter as @BroSpider. You can join him on PSN at Blues_Doc and Steam at Frostbite21251. You can read some of his musings on Blogger and he keeps a list of short stories on his Tumblr.