Expeditions: Viking Review
The year is 790 A.D. Your father, one of the noble Thegn’s of the Norse, has died in pursuit of treasure said to be found on foreign shores across the sea, to a place no one has ever set foot. The burden of leading the clan now falls to you under the guidance of your grieving mother and closest friends. However, you have been blinded to the disdain the other Thegn’s had towards your father and your family. Betrayal is at hand, and the High King will do nothing to help you.
Published and Developed by Logic Artists, Expeditions: Viking is a phenomenal journey through history, weaving a tapestry of realism and clever RPG gameplay into a satisfying experience that drags you into a world not yet civilized. Players will begin by customizing their character, with the options they make here cleverly adjusts your characters biography to reflect who they are: my green eyed and red haired Viking with a penchant for axes was described as having “captivating green eyes and hair the color of fire”, as well as classing me as a known Berserker. It was a small but appreciated touch.
The story follows your character shortly after the death of your father, the Thegn of your region, leaving you to take his place as ruler. It takes little time to discover that the other lords are not happy you were handed your crown without having earned it and a plot is forged to take your land. This begs the question: what kind of ruler will you be? Expeditions: Viking gives players multiple options when confronted with various scenarios: some will show you are a merciless and bloodthirsty Thegn, others show you are kind-hearted and wise. Each decision will affect the future of your clan in very real ways, and even failing to complete a quest opens up new avenues to explore as you write your own history. It’s a fantastic and thought provoking mechanic, but it also means that losing a battle is not an option, as it could lead to the downfall of your people.
“Expeditions: Viking finds an excellent balance between historical realism and RPG mechanics.”
The graphics are generally pleasing – if a little dated – and reminiscent of the Dungeon Siege titles. For all the detail and texture that goes into the game, it’s a pity the camera remains pulled back; I would have liked to zoom in more often and get a good look at characters and their surroundings. Of course what good is a Viking game without solid combat? Expeditions: Viking uses a turn-based strategy approach reminiscent of Dungeons and Dragons, where characters are able to both attack and move during their turn, as well as use special abilities in relation to their equipped weapon. Once you have engaged an enemy face to face you will be locked in combat; any attempt to move away from them will result in a free hit as you turn to leave. It’s an amusing mechanic that makes you consider your parties strengths and weaknesses.
Characters are accompanied by immaculate voice work, each feeling very much alive and real. Several times I found myself engrossed in the game’s story and wanted to learn more about each person, I needed to know more, I was compelled to get to know who they were. This kind of engagement made me feel more motivated to be a strong leader and protect my people because I actually cared about them. The ambient sounds and inspired soundtrack are crisp and perfectly honed to the game’s persona, but it truly is the voice acting that stands out.
Expeditions: Vikings will also see players upgrading their homestead and turning it into a worthy capital to stave off invaders and those who would try to enslave your people. Throughout your journey, your party will collect resources to build and upgrade your modest home into a proud stronghold. You can also craft your own gear in true Nordic fashion by bringing the necessary materials to the local smithy.
This game has a lot to do: from leveling up, to crafting, upgrading your home, foraging, and protecting your people, it does a good job of introducing you to each new feature so you don’t feel overwhelmed when you realize just how much there is to do.
With fully flushed out characters and serious consequences for your actions across multiple paths, Expeditions: Viking finds an excellent balance between historical realism and RPG mechanics. Voice acting is a highlight of the game, however the soundtrack and general ambient noise – while good – was lacking. Combat is newcomer-friendly to the tactical genre but characters had too few skills available to them, which could make for some repetitive gameplay. All in all, this was an immersive and delightful experience I found myself getting lost in, full of rich culture and overall stunning presentation.
*** PC key provided by the publisher ***
- Superb voice acting
- Historical inspiration
- Make-Your-Own-Path storyline
- Repetitive combat
- Limited camera