Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves

Games of 2013: Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves

The wilderness will not let it go.

I read a book in between levels of Sang-Froid. Not a long book, granted, but it's not a particularly long game. It is an incredibly exhausting game, though, and that's where the book came in. I needed a breather to break up the periods of vile punishment. I needed time off before heading back out there. For an adventure that trades so heavily in its oppressive atmosphere, that's got to be a good sign, right?

Sang-Froid: Takes of Werewolves is a game about fighting wild animals - and it was inspired, in part, by one of its designer's experiences fighting wild animals. "I had just spent six months in Thailand," explains Vince Blanchard, the president of Artifice Studio. He's Skyping from the company offices - a kitchen in his friend's house in Montreal. "Long story short, I had to go through packs of dogs every time I wanted to get to my home."

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves review

Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves review

The cabin in the woods.

The 16th of December is All Trap Day, a vital date in the Canadian calendar, on which citizens take to the woods and defeat a variety of ungodly fiends using only hanging nets, spikes and those grinning spring-loaded clamps that come studded with sharp metal teeth. It's entirely possible that you haven't heard of this national holiday, of course, because I only invented it a week ago in a bid to make things even harder for myself. Still, I practise it religiously - practise being the operative word since, on the 16th of December, an all-trap approach doesn't really appear to be possible.

It's not possible for me, anyway, because I'm dangerously low on funds and I can't splurge on many of the deadlier gadgets on offer. I'd love to stick an explosive barrel over by the church, for example, baited to lure in the Maikan shamans and Maikan warrior when they nobly converge during the first wave. Meanwhile, the second Maikan warrior - the one on his way to the sawmill - is currently weakened by the scattering of cheap wolftraps I can afford, but he isn't comprehensively finished off by them. In a perfect world, I'd spring for some firewalls to herd him back to the church with the others - back to the church where I could theoretically blast him to pieces with that barrel that I don't have enough money to buy. But in Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves, even a perfect world won't really cut it.

Quite the Canadian pickle, in other words, and this is just one single wave of just one single night. The wider game delivers a whole month of brain-teasing and bloodshed as Artifice Studio takes the run-up to Christmas and transforms it. Gone are the cheerful bustle of last-minute shopping, the carollers calling and the tree being decked. Instead, you're in for sweaty terror and a lumpen-bellied sense of impending doom, punctuated by moments of hectic fighting as you protect your sister Josephine from a pack of encircling spirits who have decided to lay siege to your homestead to claim her.

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