As is often the case where Loki goes, trouble follows, and in Trial by Viking, we’re not talking some tiny mischief either. In fact, the chaos created is so grand that Odin himself is unable to fix it… without the aid of a mortal. A viking of course, because who better to chop an evil god down to size than a drunk, axe-wielding viking? Chop chop!
While more interesting than that of your average platformer, the backstory of this one definitely takes a backseat to the action. From the get-go, you’re teleported – by Odin, of course – to a locale far away from home. A locale which will, as the game progresses, try harder and harder to kill you. Disappearing platforms, cumbersome foes, lightning barriers and gusts of wind are just some of the things you’ll be dealing with, as you go about collecting every last sunstone in the game’s many, many levels.
Axe in hand and boots on feet, the viking you’ll be playing as may seem a tad generic at first, and until you’ve gathered enough sunstones – of which each level contains a specific amount – he kinda is. But if you’re properly thorough, sooner or later there’ll be upgrades / items available for purchase, increasing your odds of surviving this endeavour substantially. Won’t make you invincible, not by a long shot, but he who wields the bigger axe, and so on.
On a related note, the reason this is labeled ‘impressions’ and not ‘review’, is that… well, I found out early on just how very mortal the protagonist is (translation: game’s much too difficult for me). Fireball-spewing winged beasties, locked doors, even that pesky wind imp – nothing my trusty axe, after receiving the blessing of light from the between-levels shop, couldn’t hack. Tricky platforming? Dealt with it and progressed. For the most part anyway.
Switches were flicked, kobolds slain and I was feeling pretty good about my quest. And then I died, exit in sight, at which point the entire level restarted. Checkpoints? Yeah. If only. I get that the game wants to implement roguelike elements (“permadeath”, kinda) and all, but having to retread this much ground because of a single misstep, leading to a trip over the edge? Less than ideal, really.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind a challenge, and I did enjoy what I got to experience of Trial by Viking, however brief the experience. It’s got satisfying combat with hits that are clearly felt – by you and enemies alike – as well as a lovely art style that seems to mix 2D and 3D without taking the 2.5D route. Platforming aspect is enjoyable too, even if the protagonist seems a tad floaty at times, making certain jumps rather difficult.
Darn shame that it proved too challenging for my tastes then, because I have no doubt that there’s a great game with a wealth of content in Trial by Viking. Oh and a glance through the item selection revealed that, with enough sunstones, I’d find myself wielding a Flame Axe later. Yup. An axe… on fire. Because vikings and Norse mythology. Groovy. Difficult, but no less groovy.