I am not one for tower defense games. I know a lot of people are, but for me, they’re just not that entertaining. There are a few exceptions, such as Kingdom Rush and Revenge of the Titans, but largely, I rarely approach the genre. A few years ago, I discovered Orcs Must Die, a third-person tower defense game that had players running around through castles and dungeons, attempting to hold off waves of orcs, trolls, goblins and other nasty creatures. Players were given a number of trap types to strategically place through the levels, and a crossbow to use to pick off a few monsters through the mass waves. While similar in nature, Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves goes above and beyond it’s genre predecessors, adding in lots of cool little mechanics that help create a very memorable experience.
Jack and Jos are the two heroes of Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves, and their sister has just come into town, right in the middle of a werewolf outbreak. The game revolves around protecting the log cabin home, and other local buildings (hen house, the mill, etc) throughout the night. At sundown every evening, players are given a map which shows what sort of werewolves will be approaching, and what buildings they will be heading to. With this knowledge, players are required to position traps throughout the area, in order to destroy, or at the very least impede, the beast’s progress.
Players can lay out fire barriers that the wolves will not cross unless they have to, allowing the player to divert some of the beasts around through a longer pathway, buying some extra time. Bait can also be used to slow down the wolves, as they will be unable to resist stopping to munch on the dead animals. Tree traps are available, and consist of a large net, holding up boulders, strung through the trees. Shooting these tree traps will break the ropes, and drop the boulders on anything below…like some wolves munching on bait. There are many other traps that unlock as progress is made through the game: spike traps, bear traps, essentially anything that is time relevant to a hunter of the 1850s…and maybe a few other outlandish surprises.
Much like a real hunter would need to, players must take into consideration sound and wind, while out defending at night. Shooting the rifle, or shouting, will be heard by any beast in the vicinity, and they will break off of their paths, to investigate. This is both a blessing, and a curse. A smart player would use the diversion to bring other beasts off of their paths, and into crossover zones, to get multiple waves trapped together. However, if the player finds themselves in a pinch, and shoots off their rifle, more trouble will soon follow if they don’t leave the area quickly. On top of using sound to lure creatures, simply kiting a monster along just by using your scent, is a possibility. Just be careful they don’t get too close.
Players are armed with a musket. Since it’s the 1850s, reloading a musket is no simple process. After expending the single shot, players who wish to reload must do so, stationary, over the course of about ten seconds. Right-clicking helps speed the process up, but there are still about eight seconds where the player is completely vulnerable. Luckily, there is a mechanic called “fear factor” that comes into play here.
The fear factor is a bar on the user-interface that moves depending on how afraid the beasts around you are. Shouting and killing them, increases their fear, but over time they will become bolder and move in on you. The fear factor meter will shrink over time, and once its gone, the beasts attack. During the pre-night setup, players can strategically place bonfires where they feel they might have to make a strong stand against multiple beasts. Lighting a bonfire, and standing within it’s area-of-effect radius, provides a nice boost to the player’s fear factor, allowing multiple shots with the rifle, to be made. The wolves will prowl around the edge of the bonfire’s light, waiting until either they’re bold enough to attack…or until the bonfire goes out. It’s a very spooky scenario to be in.
In between levels, players can visit the local town, where they can purchase extra supplies, upgrades, and have their weaponry and munitions blessed by the nuns to do extra damage to the hellish beasts.