by Benjamin Fitzgerald
A few months ago, I decided to support a project on Kickstarter, a video game called Trial by Viking. The game is nearing completion and as a thank you, Last Life Games sent a download link for the demo to all their backers who helped to make the game a reality. I downloaded the demo last night and I finished it this afternoon, and decided to offer my first impressions.
Trial by Viking is an action platformer and dungeon crawl. The main character, an anonymous Viking, has been chosen by Odin to save the world of Midgard from the carelessness of Loki. What follows is 130 levels of crazy hack’n’slash platforming madness.
The demo presents a mere five levels, and as such is just a peek into what the full game will be. At first, I found myself terribly frustrated. The default controls felt clumsy to me, and the demo throws you right into the middle of the game. I’m not terribly great at platformers, so this was a huge leap for me and I felt like throwing in the towel. I wanted to write this review, however, and I can’t very fairly preview a game if I don’t attempt it.
I’m glad I stuck with it. Even in the five levels I played, there’s a lot of content. Some of the levels focus on staying alive against a vicious array of monsters and traps, whereas others are focused on exploration and problem solving. As the game progresses, you collect soul stones, which are essential for improving your weapons and equipment throughout the game. Collecting all the soul stones in a level can be very challenging, however. Just in the demo, two of the five levels featured several hidden areas that could only be accessed by solving a variety of puzzles. I found myself replaying the levels over and over, trying to master these various areas.
There is a pretty good diversity of monsters to fight, too. I counted at least ten different types of monsters, each of which present their own unique challenges. At some point in the game, you will also be playing a second character, a sexy Viking chick. The demo doesn’t reveal much of the story, so I don’t know who she is or what her role is, but it adds a good sense of variety to the game. Her abilities are quite different from the flame-haired protagonist, so I found myself approaching monsters in a very different way while playing her.
The graphics, while not spectacular, are well-suited for the game. It’s important to remember that this is not a AAA game, but a project by a small group of indie developers. They utilize what they have very well, and the world is both dark and appealing. The monsters all look pretty cool, so that aspect of the game is very well done. There are a ton of boss battles too, so that helps to add some variety to the works.
All in all, my impression of this game is favorable. The game isn’t easy, and some of these levels will definitely challenge you. The default controls were clumsy, but with some customization they work pretty well. I thought that one of the monsters looked too Egyptian, but that’s a minor complaint. If you’re not a fan of platformers, this probably isn’t the game for you, but if you’re looking for a challenging experience that will provide many hours of fun, you should definitely consider buying this game when it comes out. The estimated release date is February or March, and it’s available for pre-order for $12.99. Considering how much content is going to be in the game, that is a very reasonable price.