Northgard, strategic combat in the land of the Vikings

Who I am
Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
Author and references

When it comes to adapting a RTS on console, There is always the fear of having to adapt a gameplay designed for mouse and keyboard, coming to terms with the limits imposed by the controllers. The quality of these ports, in fact, is often influenced exclusively by the care taken in this step, because without it there is the risk of finding something difficult to play in your hands.

We tell you immediately: Northgard falls under those titles that made it. The version for the console market of the branded work Shiro Games it has no particular disadvantages due to this change of settings, but will it have managed to conquer us anyway? Put on your sheep coats, collect the axes and follow us in the review for Nintendo Switch di Northgard!



Revenge calls for revenge

Well yes, although Northgard is a full blown RTS it has a Story Mode which, more than anything else, can be assimilated to a gigantic tutorial of the game mechanics. History sees Rig, son of King Hargurorf, who together with his people decides to embark on a journey to mysterious land of Northgard, to find a new place where you can establish your village. However, things do not go as planned and, before I can leave for the long journey, the clan is attacked by Hagen and his Raven Clan, exterminating every single inhabitant and stealing the sacred relic of Rig's family: the Royal Horn. Believed dead, the young Viking will then decide to assemble an army to attack his opponents and thus avenging the death of his people.


The Northgard plot, although potentially interesting, it does not feature twists or particularly inspired moments, sliding on the player through the five chapters that make it up. However, we appreciate the intent of Shiro Games of wanting to include some narrative element, but we also realize how difficult it is to blend everything with the rhythms and needs of a strategic title. As we pointed out at the beginning of this paragraph, Northgard's Story Mode can also be thought of as a huge tutorial, essential to better understand the game structure, in preparation for the single player mode and, above all, the multiplayer one.


And what clan do you belong to?

Regarding the gameplay, Northgard represents an RTS poised between Age of Empires and Civilization. First of all, as already mentioned at the beginning, let us point out how successful the key mapping is, while not hiding its original nature linked to the mouse and keyboard. In fact, within a few games, the player will be perfectly able to juggle the various game menus, without wasting too much time between one game action and another.

Just like in the aforementioned strategic titles, in Northgard the aim is to accumulate resources in order to survive to different threats and overcome the victory conditions required by the game. Gold, food, wood, stone and metal are the resources that you must always keep in mind, spending your supplies sparingly to create structures that allow you not to succumb to hardship. The world, however, it is not represented by a single expanse on which to expand, but is divided into areas which, from time to time, will be explored and understood before being able to settle. Each area, in fact, presents different problems and a limited number of resources, which obliges the player to constantly think about the best way to get to the end of the game, without settling in the initial area and hoping for the opponent's clemency. To complicate everything we think not only the animals, creatures and enemy peoples that we will be forced to fight, but also the calamities that if we do not pay attention will hit our village.


Everything just seen you can meet in Story Mode, but it's mostly part of the single player experience. This mode will allow you to choose one of the initial six clans (Eikthyrnir, Heidrun, Fenrir, Huginn e Muninn, Bjarki e Slidrgtanni), caratterizzati da different starting statistics and capable of substantially changing the fate of each game. Once you've made your decision, it's up to you attempt to survive your opponents, demonstrating not only your military strength, but also your strategic superiority. In case you get tired of facing the CPU (which, we warn you, is often very combative), There is also a multiplayer mode  which allows you to create or add yourself to a game session. During our games, we did not encounter any particular connection problems, if not some frame drop due, most likely, to our internet line or to the mediocre Nintendo Switch connection.


The beauty of little things

From an aesthetic point of view, Northgard proves to be a beautiful title to look at in portable mode, but with more than a few technical limitations. The poor production budget is not only evident from the polygonal models of the characters often poorly defined, but also films made with a style close to motion comics, but without any captivating graphic effect. Mind you: we're not saying Northgard is a bad show, just that the indie nature does not allow the Shiro Games title to have large budgets behind it and, especially in docked mode, the thing is evident. Very similar speech for the soundtrack which, despite correctly proving to be close to the Norse mood, never manages to really amaze and stay ahead of the player. Finally, we highlight how the whole production is playable only in English, presenting some term or grammatical form that may not be understandable to the less accustomed to the Queen's language.


Northgard is a fun and difficult RTS, but lacking in new ideas, which features a successful key mapping and a fair number of tasks to do, as long as you appreciate the main mechanics. We realize, in fact, that this is not a title for everyone, resulting excessively complex for the less experienced and lacking in innovative ideas for strategic lovers. In short: the guys at Shiro Games have created a valid product that, with some uncertainty removed, we would like to recommend to those looking for a good RTS to play on Nintendo Switch and who, perhaps, can appreciate the Viking atmosphere that obviously permeates. all production.

USEFUL INFO

We played Northgard on Nintendo Switch in both portable and docked versions, much preferring the former for convenience and the undeniable technical limitations of Shiro Games production.


Duration
  • Northgard's Story Mode can be completed in about 8-10 hours, but it totally depends on the player's approach method.
  • The overall longevity of the title, on the other hand, is at the total discretion of the user, who can spend two, like twenty, hours trying all the possible combinations of single player and multiplayer games.
Structure
  • Northgard is an RTS that hybridizes some Age of Empires ideas with some Civilizations mechanics.
Collectibles and Extras
  • Northgard has no collectible details, unless it refers to the resources and treasures that are consumed within the single game.
Review by Luca Mazzocco
Graphics

From a purely technical point of view, Northgard presents cartoon graphics that certainly cushion the visual impact, but a few moments of play in docked mode are enough to recognize all the technical limits of an independent production. Let's admit, however, that in portable mode the title Shiro Games makes a good impression, managing to hide even more the not excellent polygonal models of environments and characters.

74
SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM

On the sonic side, Northgard is also entertaining, but it never surprises. The soundtrack, which draws heavily from the Norse mood that characterizes the whole work, manages not to disturb during the games, but, at the same time, that love that pushes gamers to search for the soundtrack in internet once your console is turned off. The dubbing of the cut-scenes is also average, which does not enhance, but which does not damage the work.

76
GAMEPLAY

Gameplay is certainly Northgard's most successful element. Story Mode entertains and acts as a great launching pad, while Single Player Mode has so many variables that, to test them all, the player will have to really spend many hours of their time. It goes without saying that, being an RTS, the overall longevity of the title depends on the nature of the gamer, who can have fun both in the aforementioned solo modes and in the Multiplayer typical of this type of productions.

84
Total Rating scale
78
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