Land of the Vikings by Laps Games
Land of the Vikings is a colony simulation game in the vein of Banished, offering a Viking-themed town-building and management experience paired with the ever-present threat of natural disasters. In a genre that has no lack of excellent entries, Land of the Vikings strives to set itself apart with its strong theming and flexible building placement options.
More Village, Less Pillage
On starting a new game, I was pleased to be presented with customization options for both banners and the name of my town; nothing like a little personalization to become attached to a settlement. The options offered are sufficiently diverse, and an array of colors helps to make the choice a little more unique. A small variety of maps is currently available, providing variable challenges such as resource scarcity and increased distance between said resources and the starting location.
On starting a settlement a tutorial immediately provides a basic overview that doesn’t overstay its welcome. From there, a mission system helps to guide players through the many needs a village has as it slowly grows into a city. This works very smoothly to seamlessly shift from learning to thriving; once key systems are learned it is easy to outrun the missions and pre-empt their instructions while pursuing personal goals, like learning to ride a bike and realizing no one’s holding on long after you’ve struck out on your own.
Developing the settlement involves building various forms of production while keeping up with housing needs as new settlers arrive. Homeless Vikings make for unhappy Vikings, so it’s generally good to get ahead of the curve and build plenty of houses before new arrivals show up. New structures require workers assigned to them, which demands a quick assessment of the available residents.
The appropriate skills for any job are broken down into one or more of four stats possessed by each Viking; I found this a little impersonal for a game that presents its residents as individuals with unique and diverse characteristics. I wonder about a more prose-oriented system that hides the stats behind brief character descriptions; this would force a little more consideration to be given to assignments and ideally conjure more attachment with each individual. That said, residents tend to die fairly regularly in Land of the Vikings, so perhaps this more efficient system is by design; I often found it necessary to find new workers for buildings as the previous individuals perished.
Disasters come around fairly regularly, about once a year during my game. These can range from lightning storms to earthquakes, killing off a few Vikings and knocking down a handful of buildings. I found these to be setbacks but always recoverable. While visually impressive, I think it would serve to apply a little more diversity to the consequences of these events.
Speaking of events, Land of the Vikings occasionally manifests a leadership conundrum requiring a decision that will have ramifications down the line. These are often interesting and provide some fun moments as noteworthy individuals pop up again and again. There are a few grammar and clarity issues here and there but nothing that can’t be cleared up with a little work. Hopefully, the writing quality will improve with subsequent updates.
Visually, Land of the Vikings is stunning. I’m predisposed to enjoy the kind of scenery on offer here, so I might be biased, but the mountains, valleys, and snowy tundras are beautifully realized. Some of the houses seem to have perhaps a little too much light slipping through the logs that make up their walls, but overall the impression created is of cozy, wholesome settlements that believably feel like islands of safety in the wilderness.
Land of the Vikings is a strong entry in the world of colony simulation; its Viking themes make for a hearty setting that provides a fun backdrop for the survival aspects of the game. The visuals are solid, and while there is room for developing the detail on offer when it comes to settlement dwellers and the way their skills are presented, Land of the Vikings offers an engrossing experience that is worth checking out for fans of the genre.
Land of the Vikings is available via Steam Early Access.
Watch the trailer for Land of the Vikings below: