Widely considered the grandfather of first-person shooters, Wolfenstein and its lengthy history know both the thrill of victory and the agony of failure. The franchise’s 2009 entry, the Raven Software-developed Wolfenstein, marked a particularly low point for the series, leaving many to ponder whether protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz’ Nazi-killing days had finally come to an end. MachineGames, however, a Swedish studio founded by former Starbreeze developers, proved approximately five years later that B.J. still had plenty of fight left in him.
The team successfully pitched a new direction for the IP to series creator id Software and publisher Bethesda Softworks, proposing an alternate history, post-World War 2 narrative wherein the Nazis claimed victory. MachineGames’ ensuing partnership with the companies culminated in 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order, 2017’s Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, and The Old Blood expansion in between. These adventures cast a darker, more serious tone over the franchise that ultimately led to B.J.’s transition into a family man. And killing Nazis, inherently, became integral to the proverbial family business.
Thus, Wolfenstein: Youngblood dropped players into the roles of Jess and Soph, B.J.’s twin daughters who, by the 1980s, had grown old enough to infiltrate Nazi-controlled Paris but remained young enough to embark on a relatively lighthearted coming-of-age journey. On paper, the premise worked flawlessly; in practice, Youngblood crumbled under the pressure of cooperative gameplay, light RPG elements, and an open-ended structure—all qualities that went unexplored in MachineGames’ previous projects. Consequently, the final product came across as a hollow shell of the Wolfenstein experience that millions grew to associate with the brand.
This is the tragedy of Wolfenstein: Youngblood.