The first time I played Northgard was on the PC in December 2018. For reasons still lost to me, I didn’t try to start off in the story mode, but instead jumped straight into a singleplayer game against three AI opponents without any idea of what was going on. I didn’t last long, but the aesthetic and setting of the game still appealed.
When I heard that Shiro Games were bringing their Norse strategy survival game to the Switch, I was extremely keen on taking another look. I didn’t make the same mistake as last year this time around; this time stepping into the story mode to try and get myself a foothold in the game.
Filled with Norse mythology, the story sets you in the shoes of Rig, Viking son of the High King who must search for a new home for his clan in the new continent of Northgard. The first couple of story missions are a gentle introduction to the mechanics of Northgard, that is until the third level where the brutality of this new land starts to be revealed.
Fortunately, the console version of Northgard is more welcoming than the classic PC version. As you start a new level, you don’t have to fear about being lost as to what to build to get your clan going. An array in the centre of your screen gives you a contextual view of the buildings that might be suitable for construction.
There dynamic control wheel opens up a wider range of options, open it when on a clear part of a zone and you see the full build menu, while opening it on a building gives you the requisite choices for upgrading a building or setting production targets. At the press of another button you can choose to see details of what your clan members are up to or refresh yourself with your victory conditions.
It’s easy to control and got me involved quicker to a much greater extent than on the PC. There is still great depth to the seemingly easy job of looking after your friendly clan. As the year progresses towards winter, you want to ensure you have adequate supplies of food and wood to keep your horde happy and healthy.
Balancing your resources in the early game against the need to expand your reach around the map is a key challenge. With each zone on the map only supporting a limited number of buildings, you need to expand to build the houses you need to increase your population limit, but each additional zone you want to bring into your domain requires more food to acquire.
Even when you think you’ve got a grip of things, the world of Northgard itself throws challenges at you. You’ve got a good thing going with a farm and some sheep being tended to? Rats will appear requiring silos to keep your food safe and healers to prevent the spread of disease among the clan. A severe winter will eat into your resource supplies quicker than ever, while Draugr can rise from demonic portals and wreak havoc where you were previously safe.
You can’t afford to let your guard drop at any point in Northgard with the tables able to be turned on you at any moment. It’s almost crying out for an Easy mode so I can explore a map and work my way up the Lore tree and build more breweries to keep my people happy.
While it is disappointing that the latest free content updates that have appeared on the PC version haven’t yet made their way over to Switch, it’s clear that Shiro Games have already spent a lot of time and effort ensuring their console adaptation is as good as it should be, they’ve done a great job with this console version.
The Verdict – Headshot
Platforms Available – PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Platform Reviewed – Switch
For more on our scoring policy, please read this post. Review based on code supplied by PR.