Not prepared to splurge on God of War: Ragnarok but have a berserker-like thirst for Viking-based games? Early Access Land of the Vikings might be the game for you, especially if you’re fond of city builders/RTS.
Developed by Laps Games and published by Iceberg Interactive, Land of the Vikings Early Access is a city builder where you start with a small settlement, gradually expanding the population and technology, braving the elements and instructing raids. The controls are universal with the appropriate zoom options, swinging the camera around to see behind buildings, and the usual ‘click on a building or character to get their stats/assign tasks’.
The early tooltips are decent enough to get you started, but nothing prepares you for the mortality aspect of the game. Characters are manually assigned to a task or structure and should remain there until you say otherwise. However, as your settlement increases in size and activities, it’s easy to miss when someone you’ve assigned has either died or abandoned their post, causing production to halt.
While there are alerts and the bottom of the screen, plus icons over buildings to indicate they are non-operational, or characters saying they’re unhappy, hungry or need a home, their assumed deaths or abandonment throw a spanner in the works and slows everything down. Land of the Vikings is initially a relaxed experience; as a result, it’s very slow – even when you speed things up to the maximum. The cracks will show as production for new homes, gathering fruit or hunting animals either slows down or stops and has a knock-on effect on your community. Still, the management aspect is mostly rewarding.
One might assume that the Vikings didn’t have that many structures on offer, let alone such a vast inventory. There’s a lot available for an Early Access game. Though some of the more advanced buildings require some jumping through hoops to obtain them, features such as decorations can be unlocked rapidly – not only making the place aesthetically pleasing, but they can boost the happiness and productivity of your subjects just by placing some animal bones or a torch.
There’s a good deal of freedom with placing buildings, too. Holding Z will allow you to rotate most structures by 360º, making placement very user-friendly. The downside is you can’t always get things symmetrically perfect, and if you’re a bit old school and from the days of Sim City, you might find diagonal roads and misplaced homes mess up your feng shui. If that’s a deal breaker, perhaps play A Little To The Left instead. Still, it’s minor, and to be honest, there’s so much going on. The building layout is the last of your concerns.
Besides feeding your people, you must ensure they have somewhere to live. Families will grow, their children being entered into the workforce, and as these are Vikings, everybody works. Often there will be quick events where a mob are bullying another citizen, and you have to decide whether to intervene and exile the victim (as they’re spouting controversial views) or pay the mob off, risking the victim getting a beating and ending up disabled. The onset is that they can no longer work, and their families become unhappy. Additionally, as your settlement grows, newcomers ask to join, and you typically have to build them a home quickly.
Land of the Vikings Early Access also has a development tree that is unlocked as you complete specific objectives. The points awarded can be invested in Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, boosting happiness, productivity, and new technology such as blacksmiths and docks. Then, once you expand, you can send out your warriors to raid neighbours, defend against them, and increase your wares.
Land of the Vikings is an enjoyable RTS with lots on offer at this early stage. Naturally, some things need to be ironed out, such as tree growth (it’s swift and stops you from seeing your structures – though looks nice), plus the somewhat erratic AI. Equally, the events are a little limited at the moment, but no doubt these are in the pipeline and development notes, and a roadmap will show this. For now, it’s suitable for Early Access. It’s a little similar to The Bonfire 2: Uncharted Shores – a game I’ve put plenty of time into, and I predict it will be the same for this.