A somewhat repetitive hack-and-slash game with stealth elements, gore content, and war segments with the help of dragons.
Genre: Hack and Slash, Stealth
Developer: Creative Assembly,
PC Port – Hardlight
Release date: 18 Oct, 2012
Midgard is dying. Hel is attacking the island. Skarin, a Viking that died in battle, was resurrected by Goddess Freya to heed her word and stop Hel’s reign. Strangely, Viking: Battle for Asgard tells a story about how our hero saves Midgard, not Asgard. You’ll liberate Vikings soldiers from Legions, Hel’s spawns, to gain enough number for your army to liberate the islands.
The game uses 3D models with a lot of foggy effects in the cutscenes to make it look more realistic. It doesn’t always work as intended though, especially at the beginning of the game since some scenes look blurry instead. Some portions of the story are also depicted in simplistic 2D scenes which capture the emotions and actions better than the 3D models.
It’s hard to figure out what the story is. The game keeps on telling you about taking Midgard back from Hel’s reign and someone’s background a few times before the big battle. Some names are mentioned out of nowhere that I had no recollection of where it came from, especially near the end of the game. It took me some time to understand the ending because of how unclear it is, which I wasn’t sure whether I interpreted it correctly or not.
You have to explore the vast island to clear Hel’s spawns, summon a dragon, and free imprisoned Viking soldiers on three different islands. Exploration can be done in any order as new objectives will be clearly shown on the map whenever you enter a new area. An exception is to be made on the third island since there’s an objective that requires you to go to a different area to finish it, which is never mentioned in the objective description.
Unliberated lands will be dark, limiting your field of vision while giving off the spooky vibe. The scenery will then change to a brighter one after you liberate them. Although the first two islands have a colorful landscape, the third island is located in a snowy area, making some areas to be hard to see. Exploration in some caves also often becomes “hitting every wall to make sure you are not missing anything” because of how dark they are.
It’s hard to see how to progress in some areas. Vine climbing and edge walking become vital to continue at some point although the game never informs the possibility. The placement of these spots also tends to be unclear, leaving you confused on how to proceed.
Instead of mindlessly hitting the enemy until they die, the game has more varied combat mechanics. You need to defend to avoid getting hit and shove your enemies whenever they are defending to continue dealing damage. Skills are available to learn in exchange for gold coins, which can be found everywhere on the island, to quickly finish the fight. The massive number of skills that you can learn might be overwhelming at first and although it’s still fine to use the normal attack on the first island, you might find yourself using and remembering more skills as you progress the game.
Due to its hack-and-slash nature, the game encourages one vs many battles. However, the camera will shift towards the enemy that you attacked, making it hard to anticipate incoming attacks from other enemies. Kiting becomes a sound strategy whenever a lot of enemies are involved.
Large-sized monsters that deal more damage will be introduced at some point, giving you more challenge. Dodging isn’t possible with these kinds of enemies so you must be ready to move out of their way whenever they are attacking. QTE is mandatory to kill these kinds of enemies and will be available after they are low on health. The killing scene feels so satisfying as you see a lot of gore involved, although it feels a bit repetitive at times.
Stealth is a must whenever you are infiltrating a place of interest. A certain skill is needed to ambush an enemy from behind and cull the enemies’ number one by one. Crouching will be handled automatically whenever you hide behind any object if an enemy comes close. However, this mechanic becomes a mess since you will automatically jump over a fence whenever you move close to it. There was even an occasion where the game decided to jump over a fence with a cliff full of lava on the other side, killing me in the process.
There is a war segment by the end of each island where you attack the enemy stronghold with the army that you have gathered. This becomes my favorite part of the game as you need to focus on killing certain bosses, which are either shamans or large-sized monsters, to progress the liberation several times. Dragons can also be summoned for a certain price to finish the objective quickly.
Rune spells can buff you and your soldiers for a certain amount of time. However, the game never states the requirement of these spells and I couldn’t seem to cast it most of the time. I ended up knowing that you need to fill rage meter with red orbs, which are dropped from enemies, to cast them. The meter will be depleted over time after you use the spell until it’s empty without an option to cancel the skill. It’s quite a shame since the buff is also useful to defeat the large-sized enemies.
Length and Difficulty
The game offers 2 difficulties: normal and hard. I played the game in hard mode and finished it at 22.3h. I didn’t know the difference between both difficulties although I didn’t have any problem beating the game in hard difficulty since you can always respawn whenever you die and retry whatever you were doing.
The game becomes too repetitive and boring by the time I reached the third island. The devs seem to recognize this problem by introducing fewer places of interest and increasing the difficulty of some enemies, making it less repetitive. The slow walking speed and the very vast map with no sprint option might also contribute to the boringness, especially with how hard it is to see the game at times due to the color pallete.
There aren’t major bugs in the game although I found it odd that you must keep on tapping the F button to do an action.
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
The game proves to be enjoyable despite how mediocre it is. The existence of dragons that can help you in the war and stealth elements are a good addition to the game although I’m not sure which audience the game appeals to due to its gore content. There are some repetitiveness in the game and people who get bored quickly won’t last long playing this game. That being said, it’s still a good time-waster for people with a tight budget.