As a rule of thumb, I generally keep my distance from strategy games, I don’t have the patience or ability to keep track of all the build ques and enemy positions that these sort of games thrive on. However, Bad North might have just come along and showed me a different, purer path.
Taking a que from the old flash-based tower defence games of school IT lessons past, Bad North is a simple RTS where you are made to defend a small island against my favourite of the older civilisations, the Vikings. These bearded rabble rousers come at you on mass in their adorable little long boats and its up to you to fend them off!
The simplicity I mentioned comes into play with only four units under your command, Archers, Pike men and some infantry who can wander about and murder at their leisure. Your job is just to scope out whatever island you happen to be on and place these defenders accordingly as the Vikings close in on you from all sides. To take the edge off of the eventual panic when the waves get faster and more populated, time slows to a reassuring crawl as you make your moves, almost giving the whole experience a zen like calm as you assess the land and decided if your pike men should be better suited to a tactical retreat rather than slowly getting rinsed on the beachfront.
Each band of forces has a special move too when things get a little too hairy (and with Vikings involved things are always going to be just that), so in a pinch you can cover your infantry’s retreat with a volley of arrows from the surveying archers for example. However, a lot of this information is displayed ever very subtly or not at all. A lot of the appeal of Bad North is thanks to this stylish choice to have most things displayed just as is without much in the way of a UI. No health bars for example, your unit’s health is measured by how many little dudes are left standing! Once that last one hits the deck, they’re gone. The same applies to your foes so its nice to be able to just have a quick look at a bad guy and have a good idea of what your dealing with without having to open a bible of lore and game play mechanics.
There isn’t really a lot to say about Bad North but let’s face it, sometimes that isn’t a bad thing at all, I mean I needed this game, a palette cleanser if you will. It has very little in the way of depth or replay ability but hell if I didn’t still treasure the time I had with it anyway! There are a few additional items or challenges to make things feel a little more rounded but really this a game you’ll play through once, and probably move on from, and you won’t regret or feel bad about it at all.
Just settle in, get cosy and enjoy watching your little lads defend an island as best they can from the rampaging band of menacing yet adorable Vikings!
I’m giving Bad North Jotunn Edition: