Title: Dead in Vinland – True Viking Edition
Publisher: Dear Villagers
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
Release Date: April 12th 2018 (PC/Mac) July 11th 2019 (Nintendo Switch)
Price: $19.99/€19.99 (PC/Mac versions), $27.99/€27.99/£24.99 (Nintendo Switch Version – True Viking Edition, including all the DLCs)
The market for Survival games on the Nintendo Switch is becoming a little saturated. As a result, to be truly noticed and stand out from the crowd, developers have two choices, make it very (VERY) cheap, or make it very (VERY) good. Luckily for us, CCCP has done the latter with Dead in Vinland.
Enter a world in which everyday survival is everything. Following a close escape from your homeland, you and your family have shipwrecked on a remote and apparently abandoned island. It is from this bleak standpoint that Dead in Vinland: Viking Edition sets out. Quickly establish a camp and begin to branch out into the island, gathering resources, recruiting survivors and turning your survival into a settlement, your campsite into a home.
Dead in Vinland is divided into several different parts. The day is made up of three parts: Morning, Afternoon and Evening. During this time you can assign your survivors to various tasks from gathering wood, scavenging the wreckage of the ship or exploring the woodland (plus a whole host of other tasks). As you continue from each part of the day, your survivors will complete their assigned tasks. In doing so, your survivor’s traits will be affected. They will become tired, hungry and depressed; they may also bet sick or become injured. All of these traits need to be carefully managed as a trait level rising to 100% will lead to the death of that character.
Not only do characters have to manage their own needs, but also their relationships, each choice made by the character will affect the relationship they have with their peers, this, in turn, will have an impact on their performance in the game.
Through the course of exploring the island, the player will be presented with choices, do I lot the grave I found or leave it be? This, in turn, will lead to a secondary event such as being injured in the looting or missing out on a treasure because of hesitation. In addition to this, exploration will help to find additional survivors (up to ten other characters are in the game), these survivors can then be invited to join your camp, these characters can then help to run your camp however they will also need to be fed and watered.
You will also encounter less friendly individuals who you will have to fight. Combat is excellent. This part of the game happens on a grid made up of four columns, and three rows, each of your characters will occupy one square. The columns are divided into two with the back row being a range space and the front row is a melee space, then this sequence reversing for the enemy — the turn order to somewhat randomised, so you need to make each turn count. The characters have Action Points which they can use to attack, defend, buff, de-buff and move between the two columns. At the end of the combat, characters will receive wounds (injuries) if they have had all of their armour points removed, these will get worse the more health points have been lost. You will also receive loot which will help with the running and construction of your camp.
Whilst this is a relatively simple gameplay loop (which a fantastic story underlying it which I do not wish to spoil here, suffice to say there are other camps on the island and you don’t get along) it is immensely satisfying and the stress caused by a high depression level or hungry survivor is very real and engaging, this helps to drive the need to play more.
The game’s controls are solid and reasonably intuitive, which helps to focus the player’s attention on the job at hand rather than scrolling around looking for a specific option.
Visually, Dead in Vinland is stunning. The story is told through cartoony, hyper-stylised panels with characters taking it, in turn, to talk through text boxes. This is an excellent way to tell the story and adds to the experience. Characters are nicely drawn and subtly animated in a way to make you pay attention, blinking eyes etc.
The game runs fantastically on Nintendo Switch with no slowdowns in either docked or hand help modes. The game runs at the full resolution possible in the relevant gameplay mode which is nice.
The audio here is good, if a little basic, and serves the purpose of helping to create an atmosphere in the game. The music is good and helps to immerse the player. Just as with the visuals, the audio is fluid in both gameplay modes and does not suffer from any stuttering, even in the transition between docked and handheld modes.
Dead in Vinland is one of those games that sets out to do a lot. However, it is one of those rare instances there CCCP has nailed it. Not only does Dead in Vinland offer a fascinating and engaging story (which can be something of a rarity in survival games) it also provides a gameplay loop that is as rewarding as it is challenging. Dead in Vinland is a labour of love for the small development team who have created something very special here. If you are a lover of survival, city building or turn-based tactical combat, you will not want to miss Dead in Vinland. I can’t stress enough, my love for this game.
Rapid Reviews Rating
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You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.