• Chad Myers

Game Review #388: Bad North (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Plausible Concept

Publisher: Raw Fury

Category: Strategy, Action, Adventure

Release Date: 8.20.2018

Price (at time of review): $14.99



Purchase Bad North from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


Mom Said To Not Play With Vikings

I just recently started binge watching the show Vikings on The History Channel. I’d heard great things, and luckily for me, they were right, as the show is freaking phenomenal. I can’t help myself, but when I watch a show that pulls me in, I immediately start thinking about what a game would be like with the characters—I can’t tell you how bad I wanted to cook and sell meth just because Breaking Bad sucked me in.


But, getting back to Vikings, the story, in a nutshell, is about Ragnar Lothbrok, a Viking warrior who raids distant lands. I recently played a Viking game called Jotun, but it lends more to the mystical and mythological. I wanted a game with raiding and battles that I could sink my teeth into, as Ragnar did. Then, lo and behold, I get my hands on a copy of Bad North, which was developed by Swedish developer Plausible Concept, and brought to us by publisher Raw Fury, of whom I’m a big fan. So, let’s jump in and see how Vikings play games.



Plan to Survive But Fight to Win

Now, in the game Bad North, you don’t play as the raiding Viking, but rather, the soldiers of the lands and villages they ransacked looking for riches. Bad North is a minimalistic real-time tactical and strategy game that has you controlling groups of soldiers, battling the evil Viking king and his warriors. There isn’t really a story here, and for some, it may shine the light on the fact that the game looks similar to a very well-polished mobile game; but since the game doesn’t waste time on a narrative, let’s talk about the controls.


I was perplexed, because this feels like a game that would play very well on PC, but somehow the developers have made the controls feel as fluid as water on Switch, and they went a step further and enabled touchscreen controls, so you can play as you would on mobile device. With a Pro Controller it felt responsive and flowed perfectly, as you use the bumpers to pick your squad, then the left stick to pick the spot to which you want them to move, then a simple button press to make it happen. By hitting the bumper, time slows down, so you’re not feeling too overwhelmed, as the game can get tough—and rather brutal—at points. The characters automatically react and engage when their target becomes available to attack, and the attacks are violent, bloody, and visceral.



The North Remembers For The King

Each level you choose—they’re laid out upon a map from which you make a selection—will have you fighting to protect these islands from the invaders. There are buildings on the islands, and this is where I’m guessing the riches, women, and children are, so we mustn’t let them be destroyed. All the levels are randomly generated, and you have to select a commander with whom to go into battle, but be careful, because the game has a permadeath system that’ll leave you weeping over losing a commander you’ve worked to buff and train troops.


As you defend the islands, you’re rewarded with items and new units, but don’t overreach, because the Vikings are vastly approaching. You’ll also receive coins from wins to upgrade troops with different weapons, such as swords, bows & arrows, and spears. According to the layout of the island, you have to carefully place the correct unit type to battle the opposing type to your best ability, as some will have huge advantages over others; for example: if you use archers from the shore to pick off incoming swordsmen, once the troops hit land, you are at a disadvantage, as the swordsmen can easily cut the archers down before they fire multiple times. No matter how long I spent playing, I loved every minute of Bad North. I only wish there was a storyline to wrap it up so we could be clamoring for a sequel.



Audio & Visuals

What would this game be without Viking war drums? Well, they’re here, and they sound great; actually, the soundtrack is brilliantly-composed by sound designer Martin Kvale. The minimalistic Isometric art style is gorgeous and pleasing to the eye, and I know this won’t be everyone’s opinion, but I think it works here.

The 3-D style was also a nice touch, allowing you to spin the battlefield as the incoming waves are upon you. The islands can go from beautiful greenery to soaked and covered in blood in no time at all. Also, the entire color palette can change depending on the weather, as there can be heavy rains and even snow.



It’s A Wrap!

I have to say, Bad North has a lot of charm, and a pick-up-and-play quality that had me coming back to it, whether I had a few minutes or an hour to kill. The intense, brutal battles, along with eye candy art style and amazing soundtrack, made this a joy to play, and I highly recommend buying this for your collection. There is a physical copy that Limited Run Games is releasing in the third quarter of 2019, so be on the lookout!


Score: 9/10


Purchase Bad North from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.


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*Review Code Provided by Raw Fury

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