Review: Viking Squad (PS4)

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Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PC, Mac

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV
Title: Viking Squad
Format: PSN (739.8 MB)
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Slick Entertainment
Developer: Slick Entertainment
Original MSRP: $14.99 (US), €14.99 (EU), £11.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Developer Interview:
An interview with the developers of this game is available on Episode 495 of the podcast.
495

This is a side-scrolling co-op brawler where you chase the mischievous Loki through loads of challenging levels while collecting lots of loot along the way.

Gameplay:
Your main goal in Viking Squad is to pillage loot, grabbing anything that you can carry, quite literally in some cases. You attack using simple button presses and eventually combos once you have upgraded the stats for your preferred character using some of the plundered valuables.

After a short introductory level that explains the controls and the reason for all of the bad luck you are about to have, the game begins proper as you take some strange recovered loot back home after a successful raid.

To appease your penniless Viking jarl in between missions you can stock up on health potions and upgrade armor, but all of this takes money so it’s not long before you need to set sail once more. You embark on a linear journey in new lands full of anthropomorphic creatures and things intent on stopping you taking their possessions.

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This is where things get a little strange, but in a good way. With a Golden Axe inspired level design, complete with a few beasts to ride, you journey from left to right beating up everything that gets in your way, and even a few things that don’t. Run little red crabs, I will get you!

Each enemy has an attack pattern and distinctive look so you quickly learn how to avoid their charges or bombs and when to strike. You can also kick ’em while they’re down and throw a few objects with varying effects. You do anything to get an edge while you are slightly underpowered.

… a few secret little things in the game …
Smashing crates and the like gives you coins, treasures, health, and power orbs. The latter is extremely useful when you encounter a big group of enemies or the boss characters, most of which are massive creatures that are usually grotesquely large versions of something you have been fighting earlier. I knew I should not have chased those little red crustaceans.

Choosing your character can be tricky. They each have their own fighting styles and special attacks. I opted for the blue Viking with a sword and shield and was happy that I did, at least in the beginning, as the shield is very effective at blocking and even shoving enemies away.

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Some players will inevitably just mash the Square button for the basic attacks and forget about their special or combo moves, which can help massively later on in the game. I advise paying attention when upgrading your stats as a little pop-up window sometimes appears telling you a new move combo.

There are a few secret little things in the game too. Some are obvious but a few took some patience and training before all was revealed. Other creatures desire the treasures that you carry, and if you can find a way to take some of those objects across the levels to them, you might get more than you bargained for.

This can be a difficult game at times but nothing that a little grinding in earlier areas and observation won’t fix. Learning the attack patterns of the bosses can mean even a strong beast fails to dent your health meter.

… The swoosh of a blade and the twang of an arrow …
Visuals:
The characters and setting have a very cartoony look. Smooth animations combined with bright and bold colors make Viking Squad look very easy going and fun. There is no blood and no gruesome acts of violence. I have seen much worse on a Saturday morning cartoon.

While there are a few themes spanning the levels, each location is different and varied enough to keep any notions of boredom at bay. Even your village area changes slightly as you progress through the game.

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Audio:
As the ship docks, the Vikings let out a loud roar. That is the only kind of verbal communication you will hear. The only other thing is a thought bubble with a picture inside. Some games do not need speech, and this is one of them.

The swoosh of a blade and the twang of an arrow are some of the many sound effects you’ll get as the nice tunes play in the background. You’ll also hear some yelps from the innocent animals as you ruin their day and chase them away, if you are as mean as the wife and myself were. This nicely segues into the next section.

… Online co-op is good and works very well …
Online/Multiplayer:
It is in the local or online co-op modes where Viking Squad excels. Sadly, there cannot be a mixture of the two modes, but we cannot have everything. The wife and I obsessively battled many a cartoon enemy for nights on end in the local co-op. We could revive one another twice in each raid, if we could get to the fallen Viking before the angel took their soul.

Thanks to the bold cartoon visuals, we rarely lost our Viking characters among the mayhem. Because one player has to carry some of the more important treasures, the other one or two co-op friends could help protect their defenceless companion. They can drop the gigantic prize and help, but usually need to keep an eye on the object, as some are weak and vulnerable to attack.

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Online co-op is good and works very well, but be careful when joining a random game as it doesn’t seem to care what point you have reached, meaning you might see more than you would like and might not even be strong enough. You also have to wait for the host to reach a checkpoint before you can actually start to play and this could take a long while as some of them are spaced very far apart.

I did notice that playing on my own or when the other players were dead could be quite dull, the enemies waited around while I dispatched one or two of them and the game didn’t adjust the amount depending on the current players.

… a fun and substantial co-op brawler …
Conclusion:
Viking Squad is a rich and addictive co-op game with a great difficulty curve that has you constantly biting at the cusp of being outmatched or overpowered. The ability to dive back into earlier levels to face off against opponents that once left you at death’s door and take on the challenging secret paths to the next level is also great fun.

Having to look at the shadows of flying enemies to gauge what layer they are on is mildly annoying, especially when there are plenty of things cluttering up the ground. It would be nice to share coins with other players along with the other things but as long as everyone attempts to remain fair, it’s not a big deal.

Discovering new combos and better special attacks as you level-up your Viking is great fun. The same goes for finding new gear to compliment your play style, and you will always be itching to survive with the hoard of loot so you can become stronger.

If you are looking for a fun and substantial co-op brawler then Viking Squad should not be missed. Just don’t expect to have half the fun if playing alone as it doesn’t seem to be well suited for the lone gamer.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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  • himdeel

    It sucks that I didn’t know anything about this game prior to release. Totally up my alley and ripe for that Vita. Definitely hetting this one in the near future to support this developer.

    Good review by the way.

    • ChazzH69

      Thanks for the comment. PS Nation agree, it would be nice to have on the Vita.