Viking: Battle for Asgard is best described as a mix of developer Creative Assemblyâ€™s previous Total War games and Sonyâ€™s God of War series, mixing hack-n-slash, quick time events and building up an army into an action adventure even Odin could be proud of.
Its story tells the tale of Skarin, a Viking who was on his way to Valhalla before Freya, a daughter of Odin, intervened and resurrected the doomed warrior on the condition he serve as general of her army to defeat Hel, queen of the damned. The immediate problem facing Skarin is that Helâ€™s army of the undead has imprisoned all of his Viking brethren in cages scattered over the world map, and has them securely guarded - so he must travel the world releasing his men and slaying the undead.
There are several ways you can take out your undead enemies. In some cases you can sneak up behind one and do a quick decapitation with X. This is only possible if you manage to get close enough and usually wonâ€™t work if multiple undead soldiers are close. Another way is just to beat them to death with your axe and sword. When in high places such as a tower you can even push enemies to their deaths by blocking and nudging them out a window.
Some larger enemies are immune to standard attacks and can only be killed in a quick time event-based move. In games such as God of War quick time events were random combinations and usually resulted in more frustration than fun. However, in Viking theyâ€™re short enough and arenâ€™t random so if you fail it once you can nail it on a second or third try.
As you progress, Skarin will also be able to summon various beasts to aide his army â€“ if he has the right amount of runes - including a Dragon which, when used in battle, will perform an air strike on the unsuspecting enemies below. The summon attacks will only strike at certain areas to avoid hitting your own soldiers.
With a huge world full of trees, grassy hills and tons of characters you might expect a few frame rate drops here and there. However, the frame rate rarely dips â€“ even with up to thirty enemies on screen in a heated battle. Due to the large scale, mana stones scattered throughout the world will make moving from place to place as easy as finding a stone and pushing B repeatedly, until it displays a map with the rest of the stone locations marked. However, as you canâ€™t use the mana stones until you discover them there are roads leading from place to place and they are easy to locate due to the beam of blue light coming from them. The stones are especially handy if you die as you can easily jump back to where you were from your home base.
As with a lot of adventure games, there are moments where you can easily be outnumbered with a wrong move in an enemy campâ€¦ or fall off a cliff by mistake. However, dying doesnâ€™t mean a lot in Viking: Battle for Asgard because Freya saves you whenever you go down. If you do die you just respawn back at your base and lose all of your accumulated mana. All you have to do after that is go out and kill a few more undead soldiers to regain your mana. When it comes to mana collection itâ€™s best to get the goriest kill possible; a simple kill will only give you one mana ball, while doing a context sensitive kill â€“ pushing X to perform a decapitation â€“ will get you three balls. The mana is used for charging up you and your armyâ€™s weapons in battles using fire, ice and lightning power-ups purchased from the store. Once you activate a power-up it will stay in effect until the mana runs out, so itâ€™s only worth using them when thereâ€™s plenty of undead to kill.
Viking: Battle for Asgard is a solid action game that takes elements from Creative Assemblyâ€™s Total War series, and adds quick time events and sand-box gameplay. Itâ€™s a great romp if you donâ€™t mind the button bashing.