Review: Youngblood Game

The Wolfenstein franchise has been around for a number of years, but has already seen some major changes in its running time. Positive, negative, but above all daring. Youngblood takes the franchise around the corner and makes room for some news in the realm of Nazi-controlled Europe.

Wolfenstein Youngblood is a co-op title where you play as either Soph or Jess, the twin daughters of BJ Blazkowicz. Blazkowicz is the character you play in Youngblood's predecessor; Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus . The story is set 19 years later and this time no longer in America, but in Europe, France to be precise. The great bogeyman has already taken his own life, but it's now up to the twin sisters to stop further Nazi tyranny in beautiful Europe. These areas are largely still occupied.
Striking about this Wolfenstein title is that the layout of the different maps you end up in may remind you a lot of Dishonored. This is not at all strange when you consider that MachineGames is not the only developer of Youngblood. The game was developed in collaboration with Arkane Studios, known for the grim streets of Dunwall. Since Dishonored has always been a title that has really appealed to me, this is a pleasant surprise in this Wolfenstein game. Unfortunately, Arkane's influence doesn't quite come into its own in this highly entertaining co-op game. We take a deeper look at an alternative Nazi story.

What if?

A big starting point for the developers has been to imagine a scenario asking, "What if?" What if Hitler came to power and managed to maintain this until at least after the second world war? We've already seen one of these scenarios in The New Colossus where we step into a Nazi-controlled America. This time back to Europe, where the wide and long red flags with zwastika crosses color the streets of Paris.

It won't be long before you pass streets half turned into barracks or checkpoints for the Nazis. The maps you play through in this game are very open, vertically and horizontally. It takes a while to get used to this, but if you're familiar with Dishonored, you'll quickly move in different directions. A big advantage of these open maps is that you can play with the environment and your approach a bit. Frontal confrontation, or sneaking up a stairwell to the balcony to approach a group of Nazis from behind? This immediately sounds very nice to a Dishonored fan, but Youngblood puts a stop to this, especially in the first few hours of the game.
 

No movement!

The stealth approach in this title, while grandly present, doesn't work as you'd hope. There is an invisibility power that allows you to sneak in and kill enemies from behind without being seen. This power runs out very quickly in the beginning, so you have to get pretty close before you can activate it for a stealth kill. Then you won't be invisible during your assassination so that other enemies nearby can see you directly. If everyone has turned their backs on you, this is not a problem, but this almost never happens. In my entire playing time of about 15 hours I managed to kill five enemies without being noticed in a fairly narrow space.However, for this I would have had to raise my stealth ability to level 3 to stretch the time and move at a normal pace while being invisible.
Fortunately, this title offers a lot of variety when it comes to killing Nazis. Of course you can choose from a handful of weapons and during the game you will find a number of new toys that help you both during battles, but also when discovering the city and the sewers below. All these weapons can be upgraded separately from each other by means of silver coins that you can obtain during the game. explosives are one thing, but throwing knives and throwing axes are also very effective on human flesh. If you miss America from The New Colossus, you have the opportunity to smash into your enemies which can cause a big mess.
The combat feels fluid, varied and good, apart from the stealth part.

An egg is not an egg

You are not alone this time. The entire game is co-op from front to back. If you decide to buy the Deluxe Edition for €10 more than the standard edition, you will receive a 'buddy pass'. This allows another player to play without purchasing the game. They can play the entire game and keep progress if they decide to purchase the game themselves (you don't unlock achievements or trophies with a buddy pass). With the buddy pass, you can play alone. You can't host a game to start a story yourself.
Apart from some minor bugs, the co-op works very well in this game. You can boost each other with pep signals. This gives each other a health or shield boost. You can pick each other up (reviving) and for some tasks you need two people, such as opening certain doors. If you decide to play the game on your own (you can) your sister, Soph, or Jess will be played by an AI who isn't very bright. Sometimes it works really well. The other time she's just staring stupidly into space while you do the heavy lifting. If you have the opportunity, play the game together! Strangely enough, this co-op title doesn't support split screen.

Floppy disks and cassette tapes

The world in Wolfenstein – Youngblood is very inviting to explore. There are a handful of fairly large maps in which you have to perform various missions. Outside of these missions, or while playing the missions, you have complete freedom to explore. The game also has a mountain of collectibles that you can collect while playing. Floppy disks, cassette tapes, uvk covers, 3D glasses, reading material and Nazi boxes with concepts. The chests are a special case, because they are protected with a four-digit code. You will find the codes for these chests on various floppy disks. So you first have to find a floppy disk, load it on a computer to find out what the code is, where you can find the code and where the chests are hidden.

Verdict

Youngblood is a co-op title that makes the game's short duration immensely entertaining. Slaughtering the Nazis together, searching for collectibles and exploring the maps is a lot of fun to do. The story, a bit cliché and not very interesting, is quickly forgotten by the non-serious tone that the game sets. The characters you play are constantly interacting with each other with some being quite funny and others a little less so and eventually quite repetitive (you're killing it sis!). The 'scripted' interactions during certain missions are also funny. The German whining in between is also hilarious. A large group of Nazis has just been slaughtered, after which a broadcaster loudly over the loudspeaker: "Keine sorgen! We have everything unter kontrolle!"
In short, this Wolfenstein title guarantees several hours of chaotic co-op fun with some twists that you can't pass up, especially for the suggested retail price.


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