The body of the deceased Viking is launched into the water on a drakkar so that the warrior’s soul sets off for Valhalla, a haven for the fallen in battle. But bad luck, by the will of evil demons, the ship crashes into the coast of Niflheim!
The player’s goal is to prove that he is worthy to drink beer with Odin and his entourage in the heavens. You can get there only through the portal located in Niflheim, but there is one “but” – the portal is divided into fragments hidden in the catacombs deep underground, guarded by mythical creatures. And these fragments also still need to be obtained by cutting their way to them with a pickaxe (and a sword) through the dungeons. For each piece of stone you have to fight like the last piece of bread!
Of course, wandering through the tunnels is a dangerous undertaking. The reason is not even enemies. Your main adversary is not monsters, but hunger! In order not to accumulate, you need to collect resources and craft. And later, picking up equipment and arranging a temporary shelter, – go down to the ground.
What do you expect from a viking game in terms of combat? Of course, I want to feel every blow to the enemy, I want to enter a combat trance and demolish everyone around, even if I did not choose a combat class at all!
Alas, nothing like this in Niffelheim. One-on-one combat is similar to browser clickers. If the equipment allows, just click on the opponent. If you can’t pick up the enemy, you go home, craft a better weapon and come back later. No rifts, no evasions, no clear protection. You can, of course, hide behind a shield, but it blocks only part of the damage and becomes completely useless if you were attacked immediately by two.
The monotony of enemies makes the battle even worse: skeletons, spiders, wolves, bears and mice. Everyone’s tactics are the same: come up close and beat! Visually, they are different, but they feel like the same enemy with a different “skin”. If one of them could fight at a distance or (at least!) Bounce back after a blow, dynamics would appear in the battle!
But no. AI is primitive, so it makes no sense to invent anything: come and hit.
But the pumping system works fine. Almost like in TES: Skyrim – what skill you use more often, it grows and gives advantages to the characteristic. If your character cooks a lot, he will soon learn to cook up more satisfying dishes. The same thing in battle, of course.
It also happens that a dead Viking is killed. Again. And after death, if you please, as in Dark Souls , stomp for a long time to your own body for lost things. Why is this needed? Punishment for death? But boredom should not be a punishment! The character already loses some of the things: apparently, so that the soul of a warrior took a walk in search of his companions!
With bosses, exactly the same. Firstly, in appearance they differ little from ordinary enemies. An ordinary spider, only more, an ice troll with a club and so on. Even the last boss turned out to be bland. Secondly, they do not shine in battle. Terrible bosses approach the player and … shatter with the same attack. At first, I even thought that they were the same ordinary enemies, only “fatter”!
Such an ambush is brutally depressing, because the game focuses on a mine race in search of parts of the portal. And since the battle system came out clumsy, the local dungeon crawling should stretch the whole game on itself.
In fact, the network of tunnels is long corridors on both sides of the screen. To go down a level, just go to a certain door. And so – to the desired level. You can reach the end of the corridor out of curiosity, but the game does not encourage research. Most likely, you will simply run into a dead end, you will not find anything in it and will return.
It would be possible to attach “branches” to the tunnels and add a platforming element (as in the dungeons of Terraria , and Niffelheim imitates it in many ways), reward curious players with useful things and create places where it’s difficult to get through. The solutions are simple, but they haven’t come up with them.
Speaking of Terraria. In dungeons, you can sometimes stumble upon a wall with a special texture. Of course, only here you can wave a pickaxe. And what does Freya forbid to dig in other places to the Viking? Nobody thinks to explain this convention. Why not write, let’s say, that there is some titanite around the deposit, and therefore you can dig only in certain areas? Or not make secret locations that can only be reached with a pickaxe? Now this mechanics is seriously slowing down the already bad dynamics of the gameplay. The game would have lost absolutely nothing if the Viking hadn’t had a pick.
Continuing the comparison with Terraria: it turns out that your hero is not the only one whom the demons dragged halfway to Valhalla. Niffelheim has a multiplayer mode: you can survive with three friends! Or vice versa, fight with a gang of three raiders. Depends on what color the team chose others.
With an ally, it’s easier both in battle and in the extraction of resources, and generally more fun. But this is a merit not so much of Niffelheim as of cooperation as such. The game does not provide any special opportunities or abilities for the company of players: a good mood is created by the people themselves. Provided that they want to have fun, rather than complete quests or advance to the ending.
There is hell with the quests: tasks in the spirit of “collect five navels of chicken” and nothing more. You don’t need to talk to anyone or deliver anything as intended. Just click “Run” in the quest menu, and that’s it! And I was expecting at least a few unique missions! But their entire set is built on a grind.