A Comedy Drama With Giant Robots
HIGH It’s oozing style with love for its generic roots.
LOW Slow to start for turn-based punch-ups.
WTF Why don’t we have mecha fights IRL?
Wolfstride is an anime-inspired turn-based RPG that sees the player manage a mecha on the road to fame and fortune.
The year is 2017… or some version of it. The Soviet Union is still kicking while giant robot battles are the sport of the age. Players take on the role of ex-yakuza Dominic Shade, part of a team of misfits who inherit their own mysterious mecha from a recently deceased friend. Rather than sell the P-Wan Gallow 07 for parts, they opt to climb the ranks of competitive robot fighting — but it’s going to take some cash to get there.
The mecha battle system is simple but highly customizable. Players manage move points, action points, ammo, and a nanobot meter (for healing) while moving along a single axis. Different parts of each mech have individual hit points and must be operational to do certain actions, but ultimately the goal is to destroy the enemy’s cockpit to win the engagement.
Between battles the player will manage parts and training to suit different playstyles. Want a mecha that’s all close-combat punch-ups? Equip the right attacks and buffs to float like a butterfly and sting like a 50-tonne Gundam. I’ve gone for a more mid-range style, packing a sizeable reserve of ammo and burst fire to precision-kill the opponent — when they’re not guarding with a beefy armored arm, of course.
While the mecha battles are likely Wolfstride’s main draw — and they are certainly a draw — I want to be upfront in saying that despite initial appearances, this is very much a story-driven game. The majority of its runtime will be spent wandering town, playing minigames, and cycling through dialogue.
The main gameplay loop follows Shade day-to-day — there’s a countdown of 63 days — doing odd jobs and completing favors to outfit the Gallow 07 with new gear and training. He’ll meet a cast of colorful characters as the player trapezes around the locations of Rain City, from the “Crapyard” to “The Midnight Rider” pub.
If a player is here largely for the mecha battles, the first few hours can be a drag as the fights are few and far between. However, I would still warn against passing on Wolfstride for that reason alone. The minigames are used to make money for mecha purchases, offering varied challenges like a quicktime button mash to wash cats. They’re addictive in the simple, button-mashing fashion of a good mobile timesuck, and when the game really hits its stride, it is absolutely top shelf.
Throughout the very anime-esque climb through the ranks, the player will learn more about the troubled pasts of the crew (and especially protagonist Shade) and their hopes for the future. There’s a lot of heart and well-written dialogue that only occasionally edges towards being overlong and indulgent, though it never quite crosses the line.
The dialogue is all voice-acted with some truly standout performances (including the disembodied monologuing of the main characters’ dead friend) while catchy tunes keep momentum going forward even when the player is just walking down a street.
Visually, the art design absolutely oozes style from meticulous sprite-work for character models and backgrounds, to the animepflavored artwork that adorns character portraits and mecha designs, all in black and white (with some rare red highlights). The three elements don’t clash, but instead build a dazzling visual flair.
Because this game oozes love for mecha anime and RPGs without falling into being merely referential or nostalgic, Wolfstride is its own beast — a zany, at times heartfelt tale built atop a solid gameplay foundation of meeting giant robots and punching them in the face.
— Stephen Cook
Disclosures: This game is developed by OTA IMON Studios and published by Raw Fury. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 15 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: This game contains swearing but does not contain overt sexual references or gore. It should be suitable for teenagers and adults. There is no ESRB rating.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered and/or resized. Audio is not required to experience the game. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram. It uses either mouse and keyboard or controller. On keyboard, character and menu movement is controlled by WSAD or the arrow keys with E for select/interact and Q for cancel. On controller, character and movement is controlled by the analogue stick with A for select/interact and B for cancel. Buttons for any other actions are usually indicated on screen.