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  • Writer's pictureNate Hermanson

E3 2021 Mini-Preview: Wolfstride kicks ass

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

As part of our E3 coverage, we'll be providing a few mini-previews for games that we were compelled to check out further after they caught our attention at one of the events. Many of these games have free demos, so check them out yourselves and let us know what you think!

All anime fans share a unifying experience growing up: We think that giant robots are killer and that we would like to be in the pilot's seat of one as soon as possible. I literally took in no further information from my favorite mecha anime, so you can imagine my surprise when, later in life, I found out that they also prominently featured existential breakdowns, deep geopolitical conflicts, anti-war sentiments, and lessons about the inherent nature of humankind.

And while Wolfstride may have the same level of depth in store — and I'd be happy if it did — it quenched my thirst for giant robot action and fighting. Sometimes, that's all you need.

A greyscale screenshot from Wolfstride shows an enemy mecha called Wormageddon with health stats labeled on various parts of its body.

Wolfstride, developed by Ota Imon Studios and published by Raw Fury, is a 1v1 giant mech turn-based RPG with a monochromatic color theme and anime-inspired art style.

You are in control of your classic rag-tag group of "heroes" who have come together all keen on making a buck in the mecha fighting arena. An exiled Yakuza member, a golden retriever of a man named Knife Leopard, a literal dog-man who owns the garage you operate out of, and a grizzled old woman who sells you parts. All working on a giant robot named... Cowboy. You know. The classic set up.

The demo features a few fights and some fun shenanigans in the garage itself, but the full release promises the ability to go out into the world to complete odd jobs for cash, to further upgrade your bot and keep it operational after getting battered in combat.

Wolfstride wears its anime inspirations on its sleeve and it honestly could stand side by side with games in the Persona series with its ability to pour that style sauce all over everything. From fight intros complete with exaggerated character portraits to the in-battle constant motion of pilot and mecha, there's an energy present here that keeps you engaged despite the slower turn-based combat.

It's easy to fall in love with the incredible mecha and character designs that bring to mind Gurren Lagann and the works of Studio Trigger, but the pleasantly surprising style choice here is the pixel art that you find in between fights in the garage. The simplicity in pixel art stands in perfect contrast with the beautifully rendered anime portraits.

A greyscale screenshot of the player's equipment and parts screen for their giant mech, Cowboy.

Okay, I know. You wanna hear about the big robot fights.

The showdowns of metallic titans.

As I said earlier, Wolfstride is a turn-based RPG. Each robot has health bars and armor for both arms, the head, and the big important target — the chest which holds the "core." Destroying your opponent's core means the end of the match, but taking out arms and the head can remove attack moves from your opponent and strike out their ability to target your respective limbs.

Fights are intimidating. You've got limited action points, ammo, and movement points, so each decision feels impactful. Movement is a key mechanic here too: Your attacks have specific range requirements, plus there are damage bonuses if you stand in particular spots, and even bigger damage bonuses if you're able to pin your opponent against either end of the arena. There's so much to consider when choosing how to use your turn and one wrong choice feels like it could change the tone of the entire battle.

In the demo, you're able to fight against two competitors. First up is Wormageddon with their pilot Godworm. Yeah, we're getting goofy with it. Wormageddon has to be this game's "Glass Joe," because I was able to roll through this bot with no worries, despite learning the game system's on the fly. My anime arc had begun with the classic "newcomer appears and wins against all odds."

Naturally, that meant that my next showdown would be the "humbling loss at the hands of your new rival." And so it was with Fancy Boy. This second fight showed me the true potential of Wolfstride's battle system, as we went back and forth, trading shots and limbs until I was finally overwhelmed.

After that fight, the demo ended and I was told I could return to either fight as many times as needed. I could redeem myself and show up my rival.

But no. I'm a true anime fan. I know what I have to do.

I'm stepping away from Wolfstride until release.

I'm going on my own training arc, playing tons of other games until Wolfstride is finally back in my hands, learning and growing as a player.

Waiting for the day that I get to return... to DESTROY Fancy Boy.

In the meantime, I ask that you go and prove that I'm bad at games by defeating Fancy Boy on your own with no worries. Wolfstride's demo is out now and will be available through June 22 during Steam Next Fest! Then, come back here and help me train while we wait for the game's launch.

An in-game dialogue screen with Dominique Shade and Z.Z. Zowie. The latter says "Sure, darling. I think you guys are ready for this. It's a new operational system."


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