Bad North Video Game review
Publisher: Raw Fury
Developer: Plausible concept
Platforms- PS4, XboxOne, Nintendo Switch, PC
“Bad North is a charming but brutal real-time tactics roguelike RPG. Defend your idyllic island kingdom against a horde of Viking invaders, as you lead the desperate exodus of your people. Command your loyal subjects to take full tactical advantage of the unique shape of each island. Everything is at stake: fail, and watch the blood of your subjects stain the ground red.”
As soon as I saw the concept art and graphics, I knew Bad North was going to be the game for me! I instantly sought out the trailer and was not disappointed. As soon as Bad North was available I had it downloaded. I was eager to build up my armies, conquer islands and reluctantly slay many Vikings. I am a fan of anything Vikingy!
Anyway back to the game – let me first set the scene and game mechanics:
If you have ever played the original version of Total War then the way the game is played may be similar – if not I will try my best to explain – there are similarities and there are differences.
The Battlefields – Think Hebrides, Orkneys and Shetland combined
Each island has different levels of terrain, features such as tunnels, waterfalls, cliffs, beaches. There are also different environments across groups of islands from sunshine, to storms, to snow, from day to night etc. On each island, there will be at least 1 house/homestead that you and your Commanders who lead squads of fighters must protect.
You must position and use the skills of your Commanders & squads to protect your island from ships carrying Viking fighters (recognisable by their grim dark figures and white helmets). These boats can come in many different sizes and from any direction.
Then whether it’s meeting Vikings on the beach or at the top of a hill – as soon as the enemy enters near that invisible patch your fighters will attack and defend to the death.
If the fates are kind and you have the gods blessing, to survive and defeat the final wave of enemies – you will gain Victory! And with that you will gain riches to invest in your squads and be able to proceed to the next island on the map.
Weapons, Armour and Gold and Enemy Types:
When your Commanders and their squads have successfully defended an island and achieved victory Gold Coins will appear above the roof of each house that is unburnt. As the leader you can award coins to each of your Commanders as you see fit – whether it’s sharing them equally or rewarding your favourite. As each Commander hits a certain amount of coins then Upgrades are unlocked and this is where your squads can start to become a proper force to be reckoned with.
Which leads me on to the types of enemy you can expect to face for as you gain upgrades so do they. You will face enemy infantry, enemy archers, Berserkers which are giant figures that can effectively ‘ping’ your infantry into the sea, seem unfazed by arrows and are only ever halted by pikemen. There are probably more but I have yet to encounter them.
Now thankfully your initial upgrades can be further upgraded but will cost more coin and often double but to acquire such coinage you need to defend islands successfully – so there is a constant struggle to survive and equip troops before the enemies in numbers and type become too much to handle.
Game Play Experience:
The battles themselves only last about 5-10 minutes maximum – this game is designed brilliantly for quick-fire sessions and your campaign is saved after each battle. However, it is very easy to want to play it for longer as you unlock upgrades and want to try them out on new enemies. If you do fail on a campaign though you get a bit of a reward in that you get to see the total number of enemies killed, as well as how many of your own died, how far you got along the map and more. I must confess it would be kind of nice to see such data and statistics and basic achievements when on the map view.
The graphics are amazingly captivating and although it is a very minimalistic style the profiles of the Commanders are full of characters and as you switch between them each makes their own unique little grunt/noise and even when they die their profile picture changes to reflect that. In addition – as the squad upgrades that too is reflected in the background of their commanders profile picture. I really like the random uniqueness of being awarded and recruiting the Commanders, not to mention their colours and battle standards are unique and bright. My particular favourite feature as to be the slow-motion that is initiated when selecting squads and making actions and of course the blood!
Oh how the blood splatter stains the island in battle and on the map – but don’t worry if you are at all squeamish then you can turn the Blood to Off in the settings. The music whether on map view or in battle mode is alluring, gripping and mysterious but also charming in tune at times. I was also very impressed with how many different types of island there are – considering there must be 1000s of them for each different map and may be randomly generated together with each new campaign – it’s shows a lot of thought and dedicated from the Raw Fury team. And in addition to this the climate and terrain features was also incredibly varied and really added a lot to the mood of any battle.
If you want to get a very real sense of my first experience playing Bad North watch footage over on my Twitch Channel – https://www.twitch.tv/collections/6mAgWPdvWxXBag