Build your own viking civilization? Forage for food, cut trees for lumber, mine for stone and explore nearby areas to aid in the expansion of your ever growing clan. This is what ran through my head as I saw Northgard sitting there on a Humble Bundle sale ready for my purchase. I did ultimately purchase and definitely was not disappointed with Shiro Games take on the classic RTS genre.
As with all games, I started my initial quest with a good old fashioned single player story mode play through. My goal in Northgard was to follow story mode, not only learn the game but also see how in depth the story was and what it had to offer. I had played a lot of AOE (Age Of The Empires) in my youth and thought that knowledge would lend a hand in conquering my first trek into Northgard.. I was so wrong.
You start out with a town hall and a handful of vikings, immediately jumping into resource gathering. The town center churns out a new villager that you can assign to a role.
The one surprise that I quite liked is that there is only one type of unit in this game.. the villager. You choose what role they take on. Want them to become a warrior.. assign them to the barracks, need another hunter.. assign them to the hunting shack. The best part of this is that at the drop of a hat you could re-assign all your villagers as warriors. You must also assign them all to the town center to “reset” their role first, which is an unfortunate step. After doing so training happens instantly, which provides an emergency tactic for when you get raided and need the extra ax power to fend of the enemies.
Graphics on this game are carefully balanced between superb visuals and simplicity. With a 3rd person viewpoint and view distance being rather far away, not much needs to go into the graphics for this game to look aesthetically pleasing. The developers chose a cartoon design scheme and personally I feel it fits very well. This also allows for proportions and shapes to be exaggerated without making the game feel cheap and amateur. Some aspects have very fine features while others are very simple, however I feel there is a proper balance on the graphics front and the world you are thrust into is absolutely beautiful.
Game play itself is very rewarding and challenging, especially if you are completing the Story Mode on the harder difficulties. One nuance however is that once you get the pattern down it becomes fairly easy to succeed within story mode. Spam villagers on wood and food and surviving through winter is no longer such a challenge.
The game mechanics work well and are very polished. There is a plethora of skills that you can select from to customize how your clan progresses. Each clan has its own benefits and weaknesses so playing with each is a new challenge in itself.
One thing I dislike is the lack of setting spawn points for villagers. As you progress across the map conquering new territory you must constantly go back to your town center to select new units and assign them to tasks. this is one thing in other RTS games that has become a default and I would have liked to see it here as well.
Sounds / Music
The score used for this game is absolutely beautiful. It does become a bit repetitive as every game for me had the same song in the background. This may be just my experience.. The sounds of villagers, boats, fire, fighting, mining etc.. were all spot on and highly realistic.
Time To Learn
Very Short, I would say that most could learn how to play this game and succeed within 2 hours at most. The story mode does a good job on the tutorial front and helps fill in the details on the different clans and their specialties. I definitely recommend your first playthrough include the story mode as this helps set the stage for the clans weaknesses and strengths.
Would I recommend?
I think Northgard is very polished and fun to play. There are a few issues that I have mentioned above but that did not stop me from enjoying this game. The graphics are beautiful and gameplay can be challenging and fun. I commend producer Shiro Games on a job well done and a unique spin on the RTS series. I would definitely recommend if you are a fan of this genre.
Get your digital copy off Humble Store
Physical purchases for console gamers can be found on Amazon
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