The fallen Norse warrior starts his final journey. His destiny: Asgard. As the ship with his body moves away from the shore, a fire arrow crosses the sky and reaches it on the horizon, engulfing his body with the flames and completing the ritual. But some treacherous demons won’t let you find your deserved rest: they abduct your soul that quietly floats toward Asgard. Your warrior soon wakes up in a different place. With him, his faithful sword. And now he must explore this strange land where he finds himself, the land of Niffelheim.
Developed and published by Ellada Games, Niffelheim (no, not the Swedish black metal band) is the first title from a studio that already shows a lot of potential! First released for PCs in 2018, the game now receives a version for Xbox One. In this 2D Norse-themed adventure/survival/RPG/dungeon crawler game, you will guide your warrior in a quest through these dark lands. Hunt, cook, build and create the necessary means o survive in this place while you search for a way to reach your original destination. But be careful out there: you are not alone in this place and the forces of darkness will try to stop you at any cost. To survive the onslaught and find your way towards Asgard, our review will guide you through the Land of Fog.
What do you do? In this game, you will explore the land of Niffelheim while searching for fragments of the portal that will take you to Asgard. To do so, you will first need to survive in this land. Gather resources, hunt for food, forge your weapons and tools and survive in this merciless place!
- Astonishing 2D graphics: With its vivid scenarios, so beautiful and well-detailed, Niffelheim visuals rival some of the best titles from biggest studios out there. They create an atmosphere that allows you to feel the chilling winds of Niffelheim. This same level of detail can be found in your character, who exhibit on his body each different item you equip. Undoubtedly a very good-looking game, Ellada Games. Kudos for your achievement.
- Good sound too: For an even more compelling atmosphere, the audio department did an outstanding job. Even though there isn’t a great variety of songs, the ones present keep your enthusiasm high during all your gameplay, thanks to great sound effects (especially the freezing air and drums during the night) that follow your adventure.
- Deep survival system: The concept of survival is nothing new in the gaming world. Many games have you gathering resources, collecting food or building shelters to survive environmental threats. In Niffelheim, you will need to gather seeds and vegetables, delve in dungeons and caves to mine for mineral, hunt animals to collect their meat, skin and bones and much, much more. With these elements, you can cook to quench your hunger, forge weapons and tools and build a castle to protect your treasures and most valuable items. Here you will need to constantly upgrade your structures and workshops to get access to the better items while going each time deeper in the caves to gather resources and accomplishing missions to progress in the story. And to balance this exploration with resource gathering with mission accomplishing – while surviving assaults against your fortress from undead hordes – is not an easy task.
- Different classes not all that different: When you start your adventure, you can select one of four classes for your character: the Viking, the Valkyrie, the Berserker and the Shaman. Problem is that the difference between them is minimal: They have small differences in their status, metabolism, resistance and damage. And since this isn’t a game where you have magic or special abilities, this simple difference of status doesn’t feel adequate to give them enough individuality.
- Do you want some competition? When you start the game, you can add bots in each one of the three other territories (The Ancient Bear Mound, The One-eyed Wolf Forest, The Moor of the Desert Eagle or The Ice Dragon Wasteland), what will add different clans. Thus, the game becomes a race to see who can gather all the portal fragments and reach Asgard first. And although there’s a diplomacy screen in your menu, the only diplomacy they know is the plunder and loot. Of course, you can do the same to them, but the game is already as much challenging as necessary without these bots (consider you will be facing hordes, giant bosses, plagues and more) so they feel unnecessary to the game.
- Character animations: While the visual of the game impress, the animations of your character and enemies aren’t all that great. Actually, your warrior seems to be wearing one of those heavy armors from Gears of War while walking or pretending to be running. Enemies like skeletons have a similar problem (maybe the absence of muscle in their bodies causes their strange movement…who knows?). But the most uninspired aspect is the attack movement. Characters just swing their weapons pretending to hit something. There’s no collision detection at all, what sinks any expectation you could have for its combat system, making it something uninteresting and drowsy.
- Only one save slot: Do you want to try the different characters and territories to start your adventure? I’m sorry, but you can’t. Since the game only allows a single save, you won’t be able to experiment. Unless you exclude your save, something really unexpected nowadays. But let me save your time: as the differences between characters are minimal and the territories are all equivalent in resources – but not in their visuals, being hard to pick my favorite one – don’t even waste your time experimenting.
Niffelheim takes you for a tough and beautiful-to-see adventure through the Norse mythology. The survival aspects of the gameplay are well-developed and instigate you to keep looking for resources undefinedly, but soon the hordes, curses and other hazards you face will throw so many challenges at you at the same time that it will be difficult to handle it all. But you will endure it because the game is so addictive and well-set that even its bad aspects are going to be nothing but a stair-step in your voyage to Asgard, where you will find your deserver rest, warrior.
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.