Years ago, Myth: The Fallen Lords brought fantastical real-time tactics to home computers everywhere. Almost two decades after its last sequel, a spiritual successor has arrived with Nordic Warriors, developed by Liron Peer, Roman Levin, and published by Mashmashu Studio.
Nordic Warriors is set in a grim fantasy version of Northern Europe. The end of the world is nigh, and it is up to a group of the eponymous nordic warriors to stop undead and other monsters from overrunning the realm of the mortals. This plot is not particularly inspiring but is serviceable for a video game.
The meat and bones of Nordic Warriors is not its story anyway, but its gameplay. Each of the 14 missions — there is no multiplayer — starts you with a dozen or more units and a task such as slaying all foes, defending a stronghold, or reaching a certain spot on the map. This being a purely tactical game, there is neither base building nor resource collecting; at best, you will get reinforcements every now and then.
While your hero units can use magic, healing spells included, unit preservation is essential. Healing magic servers more as a recovery option between encounters, and in the heat of battle, as many of your precious fighters as possible have to be kept alive. To this end, positioning is key, which Nordic Warriors supports with modern, intuitive controls.
While the basics are simply — warriors take the front, archers are behind them, and alchemists had better not throw their grenades at your own forces — the missions swiftly ramp up in difficulty and demand a fair amount of micromanagement. Additionally, each unit has a unique name, which makes losing one such unit even more of a tragedy.
Fans of the old Myth games will feel right at home. Most units in Nordic Warriors have a Myth equivalent, and similar tactics apply. This also goes for the difficulty — Nordic Warriors has four difficulty levels to choose from, and even the lowest is somewhat demanding. The highest difficulties can be frustrating at times, especially when losing a unit causes a snowball effect that dooms the entire mission. The only thing that helps here is knowledge of map and event triggers; though to be fair, these difficulty levels were probably not intended for a first-time playthrough anyway.
Visually, Nordic Warriors is pleasant to look at. While a bit dated, the graphics are fairly colourful and hit the right spot between realism and stylisation, even if the drawings that accompany the narration are superior to the in-game assets. Most units and enemies are easy enough to distinguish. The sound effects and music are fitting but forgettable, with the narration being a lot better. Positively, Nordic Warriors features a fair amount of female units in addition to the expected assortment of male warriors.
At times, Nordic Warriors sticks almost too close to the Myth formula, and does not improve it where it could have. While the missions become more challenging at a steady pace, they do not necessarily demand new tactics. Instead, executing what worked before is sufficient. To add to this, most units have no special abilities, limiting the number of tactical decisions to be made on the fly.
Overall, Nordic Warriors is an impressive title considering that it was created by a mere two developers. It does not break new ground, but executes an established concept well, and offers a decent challenge for fans of real-time tactics.
Nordic Warriors is now available on Steam.