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Posted by GG Goblin On March - 1 - 2019

Are you ready for a Viking winter?

Winter is a horrible time of the year. Grey, miserable, cold, it’s just not nice. Fortunately I rarely get snow where I live, but the Beast from the East is still recent enough to forever be in my mind during the Winter months. I cannot even imagine how depressing it would be to have a constant, three year long Winter, but in Norse mythology, that was very much a possibility with Fimbulvetr, or Fimbulwinter. According to the mythology, this was a three year long Winter that heralded the arrival of Ragnarök, the great battle that will end the world. That cheerful prospect also acts as the setting for Zaxis’ action adventure game Fimbul, a game where players will take on the role of an ageing Viking berserker and try to prevent Ragnarök.

fimbul1 (Copy)

Fimbul does weave an interesting tale, one filled with all of the violence and giants that would be expected in an epic Viking tale. Players will control the delightfully named Kveldulver who begins the game by dying. This may sound like an inauspicious beginning, but the Gods have other ideas for the Viking hero, bringing him back to life and charging him with defeating the Jotun giants in an attempt to prevent Ragnarök. There are some twists and turns in the tale, but what this means in reality is an awful lot of fighting.

This story is presented in a really nice way. The tale is told through what are basically comic book panels, complete with speech boxes and the like. What this means is that there is no voice work as the story unfolds, and it does look a little simple, but it works very well and would not look out of place in a physical comic book. The visual style follows through into the actual gameplay, again looking simple but bold with a cel-shaded look that makes the colourful humans and monsters stand out against what is predominantly a white back drop of snow and ice. Fimbul is a nice game to look at, but there are sadly a few problems that bring the game down.

When it comes to the combat, of which there is a lot, the player will find themselves moving from one area to the next and having to fight, and defeat, various Humans, Trolls and big scary giants. The combat itself id quite simple, with the player having only to worry about a light and heavy attack with whatever weapon they are using, along with evading attacks, blocking with a shield, and throwing the odd spear. The different weapons that become available, which are limited, don’t really make that much difference, but shields breaking does add a little more to think about.

fimbul2 (Copy)

Successful attacks will eventually give the player access to a small selection of special abilities, from the chance to heal for a while, to a more dramatic area of effect attack. This relies on successful attacks not being broken by being attacked, and gives the player some more tactical choices when it comes to fighting. It does feel a little tight that there are only four special abilities, and realistically most players will only use the one or two, but that is what the players are given. Boss battles will see the player face off against huge, impressive opponents, but they lack variety in how these encounters are approached. Once the player has fought and overcome one, they are pretty much set up to take down the rest.

Like many other games, Fimbul offers the player choices as they progress. This great game mechanic can give players glances at branching storylines or variety for future playthroughs, but in Fimbul the mechanic feels undercooked. The reality is that the game allows players to choose to spare or kill certain bosses, all of which makes some changes to the final battle. There is an aspect of the game, a necklace of sorts that holds beads that represent the different parts of the players quest, which is quite nice. Through this, players are able to jump back to previous parts of their adventure and even make different decisions.

Perhaps Fimbul’s biggest problem comes from what appears to be a lack of polish. The most obvious thing here is the framerate which dips quite low when a lot is happening on the screen, but there are plenty of other little bugs that irritate, such as enemies getting stuck in the environment. With a little more time, Fimbul could have been released with a much more finished feeling, which would have made the game much better. With the game only running to four or so hours, these problems are amplified and make players unlikely to come back once finished.

fimbul3 (Copy)

Fimbul is a good looking game with a great story that will be of interest to any fans of Norse mythology, but sadly suffers with performance problems and bugs. The actual gameplay is fairly run of the mill, and there are some nice touches in the game. However, it is just a struggle to get past the performance issues. This does make it difficult to recommend the game without some patching, but for those looking for a short Viking adventure, and are not too worried about the level of polish, Fimbul can entertain for a few hours.




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