Heroes of Yggdrasil
Heroes of Yggdrasil is a side-scrolling platformer where you control three not-so lost vikings , who are roaming the countryside, killing wild animals and feasting on their meat to get stronger, just like real life.
In Heroes of Yggdrasil, the core gameplay mechanic (aside from side-scrolling hack-n-slashing) is the three-hero switching mechanic like in games such as Trine. Each character has different strengths and weaknesses, although here being so in a relatively simplistic sense of it. Being fashionable nords, they’ve popped into their local H&M and colour-coded themselves appropriately to their strengths. So your blue hero will do the most damage on blue enemies, while your yellow character works best on yellow enemies and the orange player is most effective against – surprise – orange enemies. Opposing colours, meanwhile, do minimal – sometimes no – damage creating a kind of rock-paper-scissors mechanic (although being an art heathen I don’t know if colour-compatibility is arbitrary or based on actual colour rules here). Interestingly though, there are additional heroes to rescue, meaning you can mix-n-match your team how you want, if you want to go it alone without any blue characters – go right ahead. Same coloured heroes, despite sharing the same palette, can work differently too – for example one blue character stabs with his swift dual daggers (and dies just as swiftly), while the other packs a bow and arrow for some handy ranged damage. As we all well know from completely scientifically accurate games like Skyrim, wandering animals always carry a load of coins in their fur, and here in Yggdrasil land is no exception. Mashing enemies nets a handful of coins to spend in town later on weapon and armour upgrades, as well as runes which can be equipped to characters for various passive buffs.
From all the above, Heroes sounds like a pretty interesting extension of the Heroes switching mechanic with some nice character development. On paper at least. It’s certainly a fine little game with some decent if not relatively simple arcade action to be had. However, it doesn’t develop its concept or gameplay much further after the first level, so if you’re looking for something deeper you may be disappointed by Heroes. Aside from optimising damage output – character switching doesn’t serve much other purpose and Heroes of Yggdrasil doesn’t really take the concept much further, compared to games like say, The Lost Vikings which served a healthy dose of puzzles and clever level design to keep things interesting. Levels, in fact, are apparently randomly generated – so there is likely no further depth beyond “run left to right” in later level designs. The action is pretty limited too – characters do each have their own special abilities which mix things up nicely – but aside from that it’s mostly a basic hack-n-slash. The upgrades likewise, are far too few and too cheap. I had everything maxed by the end of the first world. This all probably wouldn’t be a problem – but the game world is large: I only reached the second world and it looked like there was quite a few levels to go. However, I felt like I’d seen all the game had to offer, and knowing each level will just be more of the same without any further chances to grow in power, equipment or ability wasn’t so interesting. As a final minor caveat – despite being a PC game, all the controls are described only as gamepad buttons corresponding to the X-Box controller. This is pretty annoying when the tutorial level tells you to use the left and right shoulder buttons of the gamepad to switch character – which means cue pushing random keys until you figure out which keyboard key applies.
I’m left a bit uncertain about Heroes of Yggdrasil. I’m not sure if I was expecting too much or there is some development waiting around the corner with more interesting level designs and some trigger point that will open up new upgrades – or perhaps the developers got fatigued and just decided to wrap it up and move on. If you like the concept and don’t mind some good old fashioned simple arcade action though, there’s nothing much to complain about, especially since it’s a free game!