REVIEW: ‘Frozenheim’ is Beautiful, But Could Use More Depth (PC)

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Frozenheim - But Why Tho

Frozenheim is a real-time strategy city-building game set in the age of Vikings. A classic real-time strategy game similar to games like Age of Empires, although not as complicated as many games of the genre have become over the years, the game is developed by the folks at Paranoid Interactive and published by Hyperstrange and is available now on Steam. The core gameplay loop is straightforward; farm resources, build up your settlement, explore the surrounding areas, and build up an army to either defend or attack the other armies you encounter. Frozenheim feels extremely easy to pick up, and within minutes of playing, I already had a really good grip on how the game functions. The downside of that is that some game modes are “solved” pretty easily, but I’ll get more into that in a bit.

The two main options for players are the single-player campaign and multiplayer games. The campaign consists of several different stories that players can go through, and they really help serve as an extended tutorial to help players understand all of the mechanics of the games. The base tutorial does not really go into many of the options, so I appreciated the extended chance to learn via the campaign. The Viking stories are also really interesting, fans of Norse lore and mythology will find plenty to enjoy even if the story never gets very deep. The objective-based gameplay of the single-player campaign is also a nice change of pace from the free-for-all modes available in multiplayer.

Multiplayer in Frozenheim is where the game really has a chance to shine. There are three game modes within multiplayer available to choose from; survival, city builder, or skirmish. City builder is the simplest mode, for players who just want to build and expand their city without worrying about getting sucked into challenging battles. It’s the type of mode I enjoyed playing while watching Netflix, just a nice little relaxing mode for players who don’t want to get too serious. Skirmish mode is the more traditional gameplay, with each Jarl building up their homestead and armies to either wipe each other out or bring about Ragnarok by finding special in-game locations. I didn’t have a problem with either mode, as both present different opportunities for players of all skill levels and desire for intensity.

Survival mode, however, is where I ran into my first real “issue” with the game. While the other game modes allow players plenty of options on how to approach the game, survival is really only viable if you build walls and watchtowers to defend against the incoming waves. Now, that certainly makes sense in a wave-based defense mode, but what really stunk is that about an hour into every version of survival mode I played I had enough defenses to leave the game running and walk away for 20 minutes at a time. I did occasionally have to come back to set workers to repair my gates, but that was really it.

The AI will automatically head towards any gates you have, making it very easy to funnel them in for the kill. The waves do get stronger over time, but by the time I was actually worried about building more watchtowers or expanding the walls I had already been in the game for close to 5 hours. I wouldn’t say survival mode is bad, it just didn’t really feel like much of a challenge. Introducing more enemy types or tweaking their AI would do wonders to unsolve this solved game mode, but for now, it’s one that isn’t really worth replaying over the city builder or skirmish modes.

Frozenheim is a real-time strategy game for people who wouldn’t usually play real-time strategy games. This approach has its ups and downs, with one of the biggest issues being the lack of depth to the actual in-game mechanics. There are a handful of soldier types, as well as siege equipment and ships to build, but the resource management could really use an upgrade. There is no way that I have discovered yet to check the rate at which your resources are being drained, which makes planning for the winter season of the game a real shot in the dark. It would be really nice to have some sort of menu where those things can all be observed, and it doesn’t have to be a complex menu either. Just a simple page showing the resources created versus the resources used would go a long way to improve the experience for both new players and real-time strategy veterans.

On a positive note, Frozenheim is an absolutely gorgeous game to look at. The environments in all of the different maps are so well-created and are visually stunning. The way each location changes with the seasons too is fascinating and watching your workers unintentionally create roads simply by walking to their destinations. I was thoroughly impressed by the attention to detail in the different locations, the buildings, and the characters in the game. The music and atmospheric noises like birds chirping in the distance also help make the environment come to life in such an impressive way.

I really enjoyed my time with Frozenheim and will certainly be playing more, especially multiplayer, but it could use a bit more of a facelift to help improve the core appeal. The negatives wouldn’t be as distracting if the game hadn’t just come out of early access, but taking that step to leave early access makes it imperative that the game feels fleshed out and not missing anything or needing major improvements. Still, it is an enjoyable game and players are sure to find hours of enjoyment in it. Just maybe wait until they’ve had a chance to upgrade the existing systems.

Frozenheim is out now on Steam.


Frozenheim
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

I really enjoyed my time with Frozenheim and will certainly be playing more, especially multiplayer, but it could use a bit more of a facelift to help improve the core appeal. The negatives wouldn’t be as distracting if the game hadn’t just come out of early access, but taking that step to leave early access makes it imperative that the game feels fleshed out and not missing anything or needing major improvements. Still, it is an enjoyable game and players are sure to find hours of enjoyment in it. Just maybe wait until they’ve had a chance to upgrade the existing systems.

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