Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves Review

A few rough edges don't keep Sang-Froid's unique werewolf slaughterfest from being a howling good time.

When you're in the remote wilderness of werewolf country, hunkering down and chopping up all manner of horrific beasts night after night doesn't seem like the smartest alternative to simply running like hell, but Canadian lumberjack brothers Jacques and Joseph are made of tougher, more stubborn stock. Their quest to save their sister from the demonic fanged beings of the night in Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves requires careful planning during the daylight hours and precise execution when the sun goes down. All of the neat ideas at play in this distinct tower defense/third-person brawler hybrid ultimately keep the rough edges at bay long enough to let the cyclical blend of strategizing and action take hold.

Prepping your traps during the day is half of the fun.

Set in the dark, wintry forests of Canada, Sang-Froid revolves around an ill-fated region beset by all manner of lupine kinfolk. Even the devil himself has a hand in things. The aforementioned brothers begrudgingly band together in an effort to shore up their defenses as their seemingly possessed sister recovers from a supernatural ailment. Meanwhile, the forest's unruly and unholy creatures are growing in number and variety, adding ample diversity to the nightly attacks on your meager fortifications. Throw in some shamanism, a touch of Native American mojo, and some good old-fashioned woodsman's whisky, and you've got a wild ride. It's a great setup in a fresh, original setting.

Unfortunately, some of that excellent vibe is sapped by weak production. The awkward story dialogue sequences are horribly slapdash looking, though decently voiced, and the overall visual quality falls short both in-game and during cutscenes. Things don't get much better in battle, either, which frequently plays out across dimly lit, sparsely detailed snowfields surrounded by woods. Despite its promising setting, Sang-Froid is a rather ugly beast at times on the visual front.

Looks aren't everything, of course, and an abundance of thoughtful gameplay nuances do help ease some of the game's less visually stunning moments. Sang-Froid's tower defense strategizing hinges on keeping the scattered structures under your control from getting razed by the local demonic nightlife. The fact that each round is divided into two different phases helps keep things interesting. Foes attack in waves from different points on the map, and the daytime portion of each stage has you spending from your accumulated cash and a limited pool of action points to lay down traps in an effort to railroad and stamp out your foes before they rip your home to shreds.

Clobbering werewolves at night is the other half!

All of this happens on a top-down map screen that gives you lots of control over how you plan out your defenses before locking into a specific arrangement. Once they appear, creatures follow a set route to their target building unless they're diverted or rerouted. Laying down crushing traps, spiked strips, flame barriers, unholy wards, fast-travel zip-lines, and other defensive elements provides a diverse means to strategize prior to the actual assault. It's cool that you can take different approaches to victory, though failure isn't entirely punitive, since you can start each level from scratch or resume your strategic tinkering right before nightfall to subtly tweak your plans.

Once you've locked in your plans, night falls, and it's time to get your hands dirty. Playing as the brother of your choice, depending on your selected difficulty level, you switch to third-person combat as you duke it out with werewolves, demons, and other freaky fare with the aid of your careful trap planning. If you plan well, your traps will do most of the heavy lifting, freeing you up to swoop in to finish the job or attend to any surprises that pop up. When you get down to it, it's disappointing that the actual combat is fairly rote. You run around swinging your equipped axe for close-range brawling or wield a reloadable single-shot musket to trigger traps or damage foes. However, it's the many minor but intriguing touches layered onto this basic foundation that make these battles still feel dynamic and exciting.

That darn Adele is always wandering off when she's needed most.

Almost every action you take consumes stamina, from sprinting to swinging your axe in combat. Running out of stamina completely in the middle of a fight can be deadly, since you have to wait for it to recharge before you can attack again. This forces you to pace yourself and think carefully about each move even as you're in the fray. A cool fear element ties directly in to this mechanic and gives battles a certain rhythm that ebbs and flows throughout each encounter.

What is this element of fear? Well, both you and your enemies have a fear meter that constantly shifts as you play. Shouting, killing enemies, and lighting bonfires temporarily increases your fear factor. Weaker foes can still be deadly when they're in large packs, but they won't lunge at you right away if you can intimidate them enough. This gives you crucial time to reload, recharge your stamina, and prepare for the next charge as your foes circle around you menacingly. Other neat considerations, like factoring in the wind direction to mask your scent, creatures' immunities to non-silver weapons, and the unique properties of each foe you face, really dress up combat encounters enough to make them fun.

Between moments of meticulous daytime strategizing and the intense nocturnal fights, Sang-Froid's progression system is the glue that keeps it all together. As you gain experience, you can access character upgrades on a beefy skill tree that boost your survival skills across assorted disciplines. Visiting the town lets you bless your weapons, buy new gear, stock up on supplies, and grab some inebriating power-ups at the local tavern. While killing foes earns you cash, spending unwanted action points during the strategy round to harvest lumber gives a little extra incentive to use your traps efficiently. There's a lot to juggle between each facet of gameplay, but they're cohesively entwined and complementary. While some aspects of the presentation aren't that sharp, the stylish menus do play into the old-timey "horror in the Canadian woods" theme rather nicely.

Don't fear the reaper.

Sang-Froid has a ton of dark, quirky personality that masks some of its flaws. It has a few warts that mar its visual design in spots, and the core combat is too rocky to always satisfy. But the overall cycle of planning out and then executing each day's defenses against increasingly strenuous unholy assaults is undeniably fun. And just when it seems like the game is about to even out into a repetitive groove, it throws some new funky wrinkle into the formula to shake things up. Issues aside, this inventive, supernatural mash-up is absolutely worth possessing--demonically or otherwise.

The Good
Great setting and supernatural theme
Satisfying blend of tower defense planning and action
RPG elements bridge the gap between distinct phases
The Bad
Core combat is thin
Some unimpressive visual elements
7.5
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Discussion

22 comments
Aekar
Aekar

The graphics on this game are more than serviceable or subpar. They have a very nice hand drawn feeling, and provide the very right ambiance. The dim 3D scenery, with the dark silhouettes of wolves and werewolves, are quite adequate too during combat.

I conclude myself that the ambiance is strengthened by more than adequate graphics and visuals ; which is far from the way it has been worded overall in the review. Of course this game, unlike some others, won't be bought for its screenshots; it is the gameplay that is very well thought, original and quite fitting to the game's theme. The reviewer has been right to put that forward, although I pretty much disagree with the focus put on the visuals (which are actually good, more than above average) during the review. Play a game without the dialogue and ambiance, and you would not feel it; Sang-froid needs that dialogue exchange, original dated visuals, hand-drawn feeling, to get its story shared.



I wanted to share this opinion of mine about this game; it is a very good game, a 8.5 / 10 on my book.

Wanted to add too that the french voices, which are in old canadian french, are very interesting to listen to for those who would be french players. I don't know what the english voices sound like, but the french ones are great.

A very nice job from Artifice Studio...

I am now looking forward to their next games!


Agent-M
Agent-M

Combat could be better.

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

I've heard a lot of people pronounce the name of this game wrong- Froid isn't pronounced like "Sigmund Freud" is - it's pronounce in French like "Fwa" 

Sang Froid is French for "Cold Blood"

TheThoughtless1
TheThoughtless1

I was not expecting Gamespot to be the first to the party on this one. On a side note I don't feel that criticizing an indie games graphics to that degree is necessary, if it was in the hands of a AAA team, then yeah, I'd understand, but here it's unwarranted.

Bobbafet3
Bobbafet3

You say that the game and i quote '' is absolutely worth possessing--demonically or otherwise.'' And yet you give it a poor 7.5 i mean something ABSOLUTELY worth possessing is more than that no ? I want to play this coop so they have to sell tons to make a 2 and your not helping. It's clear the graphics are not AAA standards but it's far from being game breaking. Combat style works just fine for me cuz i feel they intended it clumsy and all for you to not rely that much on it, this aint a Hack n slash remember ? There's plenty of new mechanics in there i mean are we to give the best note for graphics and linear triple A games or for intelligent new game desing ? Giving that kind of score to indie devs who makes that kind of brilliant game is going to kill them in the egg. This is a 8 at least...

Warsilver
Warsilver

@grey_fox1984 Sang pronounced similar to "song", Froid pronounced "fwa", or if you prefer "frwad". 

aovannor
aovannor

@TheThoughtless1 So we shouldn't compare AAA games to indie games in terms of innovation, gameplay and ideas as well then, if we can't compare graphics? They are all in the same market. Two way street...

iHarlequin
iHarlequin

@Bobbafet3 That's relative. Not that I like playing the age card (but I will anyway), but it's something you get some perspective once you're older. That seven you thought was mediocre in Math, during high school? Get that on a Calculus 2 test and you'll probably pin it to your fridge. 7.5 is good, bordering on great.

clookoo213
clookoo213

@Bobbafet3  People like you are stupid. Think back to high school, a 7.5 is a %75, where you ever like "Are you kidding me? Look at how much potential I had on my essay, and all I get is a 75? I deserve at least an %80", probably not. 

norabbitnofun
norabbitnofun

@Warsilver The final letters, "g" and "d", don't get any sound in French for these words. Check Google if needed. ;)

kellian1
kellian1

@aovannor @TheThoughtless1 AAA games have millions of dollars in funding and dozens if not hundreds of people working on them...Indie games not so much. So how could you possible even consider comparing graphics when the funds and manpower aren't there? Just silly

Bobbafet3
Bobbafet3

@clookoo213Im stupid ? Completly avoiding the questions that i raise and making a cheap comparison dont make you the genius of the year... 2 out of 10 on your comment sir. But seriously, childish small talk aside, the true problem lies whitin the fact that this ''critic'' punish a brilliant indie game for it's lack of polished graphic while AAA tilte like Bioshock get's a big 9 out of 10 cuz you know they included a graplin this time and yo it's cool AND the graphics are awesome.... That's, right there, the problem of gaming industries right now. Putting all the money in superb graphic and evrything that matters, like the GAMEplay of the GAME, comes second. So im gonna ask my question again ''are we to give the best note for graphics and linear triple A games or for intelligent new game desing ? Giving that kind of score to indie devs who makes that kind of brilliant game is going to kill them in the egg. This is a 8 at least...''

Big up

therealone
therealone

@kellian1 @aovannor  

 I'm sorry, but i'll have to agree with aovannor. We shouldn't be watching if the makers of the game have a lot of money, or nothing at all. The best game is a game with superb graphics, gameplay, isn't overpriced and story. Just because it's indie and has superb gameplay and story doesn't mean it's better than an AAA game with superb gameplay, not overpriced, story and superb graphics. 


The best game is the best game, no handicaps :)

ontopic: i liked the game, can't wait for more:)

kellian1
kellian1

@aovannor I like when sites break a game down by graphics, story, re-playability, etc. and give each a seperate score then tally it up for the total score.

At the end of the day you know what kind of gamer you are...if graphics matter to you, you might ignore indie games. I for one enjoy good graphics but would rather have a good story even if it meant below par graphics (part of the reason games like Baldur's Gate still hold up for me even with the VERY dated graphic system)

I think it's fair for a site to breakdown indie games from big developer games (such as Blizzard, EA, etc.) just have a separate section for them, don't lump them in together. I also never expect an Indie game to ever get a "10" for a score only because they will never be able to compete with the graphical part of it. As long as the review is broken down into parts where they may get a 9-10 in other areas (if warranted) and a 5-6 in graphics...I'd be fine with it.

I will say that an Indie game with below par graphics getting a 7.5 I'm good with. Even if it goes up against a AAA game with amazing graphics but is below par everyplace else.

aovannor
aovannor

@kellian1 I can not believe my first sentence was "It's not some kind of sports league" and then you start talking about how game development should be treated like a sports league lol!

You kind of have point about people with different tastes in games; there definately are people that don't care about graphics.. but how do you suggest we tackle it? Have a review on every site from every kind of gamer so that we get a wide variety of opinion based reviews and we pick to read the review by the reviewer that is most like us in gaming style? In an ideal world it would be nice, but we know that isn't going to happen.

Isn't it easier for those people who don't care about graphics to ignore any comments about graphics in the first place? Since it isn't supposed to matter to them?

kellian1
kellian1

@aovannor No they aren't competing for the same pool. That's a very silly, imature way of looking at it. Some people will ONLY buy games with amazing graphics that are FPS games. Other people don't play FPS games and would rather play an RPG game, while others would rather play games like the Sims and could care less about graphics.

So you're wrong about there being one "game"pool" that everyone is competing for. Also, using your example, we can look at baseball...I guess teams like the Yankees should be compared to the Pirates because they are all going after the same pool...baseball fans? 

Of course they can't be compared...as one can spend endless amounts while another has to do more with less. In this case an Indie developer puts their money into story and gameplay and has very little if any left over to make "innovations" in graphics.

aovannor
aovannor

@kellian1 It's not some kind of sports league they are competing in here with lesser divisions for lesser teams. They ALL want our money. Neither is it a charity, where we should just 'do them a favor' because they arn't fortunate.. because all they want is our money not our kindness (unless the kindness gets them more money *ahem* kickstarter).

Let me ask you something, do you have a seperate stash of your disposable income that you reserve and only ever spend on indie games and a stash you only spend on AAA games? If you don't, like most normal people, then all devs are competing for the same money. Damn right they should all be compared to each other because it's the only way we can determine which we should spend the money they are all fighting for on. If they want the same prize, they are in the same league.

CJ_Shepard
CJ_Shepard

@Bobbafet3 @JustPlainLucas @clookoo213 
First of all, you have no idea what criteria GS use for their score, imo indie games should have their own ranking system, but thats another story. You just cant compare AAA and Indie games, they have different price and production values. Also that quote 
'' is absolutely worth possessing--demonically or otherwise.'' game doesnt need to have 10 to be worth buying especially when the game costs 13,99 €, its not like a 60 € AAA title.  

Bobbafet3
Bobbafet3

@JustPlainLucas @Bobbafet3 @clookoo213 Well scores can be the life or death of a game especially indie one. I aint one who underestimate scores. All i was pointing out is that Sang-Froid deserved better and if he got a bad score it was about the polishing of the game and not the game itself, so the question i asked earlier is still relevant. But you guys dont want to argue on the stuff ive pointed out, your just shooting the messenger, intellectual honesty where are you when we need you ? Keep your graplin and ill stick to my zipline. So long ''Ziiiiiiiiiiiiip''

JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

@Bobbafet3 @clookoo213 I'm going to have to agree with @clookoo213 here.  It's pretty pathetic to complain about a 7.5 being "poor".  The problem is that too many people like you can't seem to figure out that the rating system starts at 1, not 7.5.  Every game, indie or AAA, cannot automatically score an 8+.  7.5 is a good score, and far from poor.  Even a five is far from poor.  Five is average, and this game is well above that.  Please stop taking scores so seriously.

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    • PC
    Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves transports you into the 19th century where two feuding brothers will have to put aside their differences to save their sister.
    7.1
    Average User RatingOut of 43 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves
    Developed by:
    Artifice Studio
    Published by:
    Artifice Studio, Lace Games
    Genres:
    Action
    Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
    Rating Pending
    All Platforms