Review: Vikings – Wolves of Midgard (PS4)

Review: Vikings - Wolves of Midgard

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC, Mac

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Vikings – Wolves of Midgard
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (11.5 GB)
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Developer: Games Farm
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), €59.99 (EU), £49.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: M
PEGI: 18
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Vikings – Wolves of Midgard is quite a brutal game. Thankfully most of the violence is aimed at goblins, birds, ogres, and with a small dash of irony, wolves.

You can create a male viking or female shield maiden and pick their starting weaponry. I went for some dual wielding axes and a busty female character.

Each level is full of meandering pathways that often converge. You can always backtrack and will probably need to, as you must find certain things to destroy like totems or huts and a particular group of enemies that need slaying too.

I wrongfully implied that you have to find everything there is in each level but that’s not the case. There are only a few things or beasts that need dismantling with your lethal weapons. Everything else is just for the completionists.

There are plenty of things that can be broken up for parts. Like a medieval chop shop you’ll be hacking up carts, huts, tree stumps, enemies, and more just to get your filthy mitts on the wood, iron, and gold. All of that loot can be used to spruce up the homestead and get some shiny new gear.

Once you have found your preferred weapon, you can begin to upgrade the abilities of your muscular character. You can also pick an alternate set and switch between to two as you play. This can be beneficial if you face an enemy immune to one thing or need a long-range attack first to clear a pesky brute from your path.

As there is no target lock-on I find a few attacks to miss their mark, which as you might guess is extremely frustrating. Luckily it would seem, the enemies are not very bright and most can easily be avoided with a quick roll should you find your initial foray swinging wide.

It will take a long time to open up all of the abilities and skills for just a couple of weapon styles. You do this by collecting floating spheres of blood from fallen enemies. Dispatch several at once or in very quick succession and you get a multiplier so it pays to plan your moves.

… You will pick up a ton of loot …
Much to my chagrin, the poor aiming diffuses many of my attempts at building any kind of a combo. The lack of a decent snap toward the enemy makes the combat feel somewhat clumsy. Not enough to ruin the experience, just hold it back.

The story is a touch on the flimsy side too and it seems to borrow from a few other forms of media. Or is it that they all borrowed from the Norse mythology and some have done it better? There are trials to compete in for rewards and you can revisit areas to stock up on loot.

You will pick up a ton of loot, most of which you’ll have to either destroy to make room or sell to get cash. With a distinct lack of description and no comparison when selling items, it can be troublesome when you are trying to decide what you need.

In addition, you cannot sell everything in one place and have to trek to each merchant and rune specialist to offload your unwanted loot.

… fallen comrades and enemies lay half-covered in the icy snow …
My biggest criticism has to be the random glitch that wipes the current collectible and destructible list for the area you’re trawling through as you’re trying to find that last Shrine or Totem to obliterate. It’s happened several times now and for people who like ‘Joshing’ a game, it can be maddening.

I had a massive shiny blue sword as my alternate weapon but later swapped it for a bow and arrow. It had quite a powerful shot and was, bizarrely, easier to aim than the melee weapons. It could kill almost every standard enemy with one hit. However, I had spent all of my upgrades on the ax skill tree and so had to mine the earlier levels for some blood.

Visuals:
You begin in a terribly cold environment. A bitter and freezing wind blows over the snow-covered landscape, fallen comrades and enemies lay half-covered in the icy snow. Their battle scarred bodies and broken weapons are all that remain of the gruesome battle that caused your surge to power.

The environment and clothing you’re wearing will affect your abilities and if you’re out in the cold for too long you’ll need to get near a fire or find shelter. Luckily there are ample fires lit in the freezing outdoors and your character warms up quickly.

The graphics are good for the most part, with nice effects and little touches like footprints being left in the snow and a varied landscape with many hills and gullies.

… it’s sometimes difficult to make out what’s actually happening …
I ended up staring at the map and skirting its boundaries in the hunt for collectibles as the invisible wall is not always clear.

Much like the destructible objects, some things that can be obliterated in one area are just part of the scenery in the next. This means you often watch your cumbersome character flail around like an idiot.

When performing a final strike on an enemy the camera will occasionally zoom in to show an appendage being sliced off as the game slows down in a Matrix-esque fashion. It doesn’t last long though and it’s sometimes difficult to make out what’s actually happening.

Audio:
Some unintentionally cheesy and weak lines of dialogue litter the fully voiced narrative. Most can be forgiven and might even be missed by the average gamer but a few stand out and are on the verge of being awkward and uncomfortable.

The music is okay, nothing amazing, but it works well with the style of gameplay and narrative.

… it falls short of being a must-buy game …
Online/Multiplayer:
You can play this game in co-op mode either online or local if you have two PlayStation 4 systems on the same network. It works well enough and the difficulty scales to the weaker player. It’s nice that each player can go off separately and isn’t tied to one screen but I would have much preferred playing on the same system.

It did notice a few oddities with the connection. I had a few instances when the screen went black for a half second and the other player was not moving their legs, just sliding along, until they attacked. Then the animations would go back to normal.

It’s nice to be able to play online with people and you can host or find a random game, but you’re not able to set up a private game. This means you could end up in a level you haven’t seen before against enemies stronger than you’re used to facing.

Conclusion:
Vikings – Wolves of Midgard has many things going for it but it falls short of being a must-buy game. It will last you ages and it’s enjoyable but it lacks some focus and the similarities with Diablo feel clunky at best. For everything it tries to be, the game is fun, a little bit messy, but still fun.

Score:
7.0

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

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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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  • Nathan McPhee

    DO NOT BUY THIS GAME! Recent patches have completely destroyed every part of it. I am one of scores of gamers who got burned by these developers. Buy ANY game but this one.