Expeditions: Viking is the second entry in Logic Artists Expeditions series, and sees the player take control of a Viking heir attempting to pick up where their father left off.
The plot is thick with the same Slavic inspirations that can be seen in The Banner Saga and The Witcher 3’s isles of Skeligge, and that theme is going to drive a lot of your decisions as you go through the game. If succeeding in a battle is only possible through underhanded means, are you going to be worse off in the long run as your clan disowns you?
There’s always something kind of fantastic about Vikings; whether you’re talking about the politics or core values, it feels both completely separate from our own lives and yet somehow entwined. I’m further drawn in by a soundtrack that is so completely true to form and various pieces of artwork in loading screens that are simultaneously beautiful and refreshing.
Actual gameplay, however, looks only half as pretty if that, and unfortunately does very little to build on what similar titles have already done. It’s a turn-based top down RPG, and even the setting does nothing to make Viking unique. Questing typically involves shifting the camera to the waypoint, clicking, and waiting for your protagonist to make the same journey at a slightly slower rate. Sure it works, but I’d be damned if I called it fun. I suppose the developers wanted to focus on the dialogue and the narrative, though as I’ve already said, it has all been done before: we’re interacting with stereotypes here, and boring ones at that.
The combat is functional, but by no means stellar; if turn-based strategy is your sort of thing you may get some decent mileage out of it, but for my fellow dabblers in the genre out there, it’ll look and feel exactly like every other you’ve played. There is a cover system, but it’s more or less meaningless. The battlegrounds are small, actual cover is sparse and unit travel capabilities are so ridiculous that that archer which was giving you so much trouble is probably just going to walk within range again anyway. There may also be some slight balancing issues, as I was given access to an experienced huntress during several fights who essentially carried my team across the finish line. Sure it was nice to not lose, but those victories felt kind of hollow when my protagonist and the rest of my permanent team were left cheerleading in pools of their own blood.
The one time I did lose, it turned out not to matter as I’d won the previous fights leading up to it. In this way, I suppose, the game presents the mechanic that actions have consequences, even if it wasn’t in a way that made me regret those actions. I’m positive that this also applies to dialogue options and the way that I treat NPCs, however I’ve played the game for several hours now and I don’t want to do it anymore.
It’s tedious and a chore to play: nothing about Viking feels original or interesting, and although the setting is nice and the ideas behind the game’s development certainly show promise, it’s all executed so ineptly that you might as well go and play something else. The Banner Saga would be a good start.