Vaesen hands on — Narrowly survive the creatures of Scandinavian folklore

A tiny gnome must make its journey through a deadly, evil-filled woodland in Vaesen, a tribute to the scary stories told to Scandinavian children.

Vaesen, from Dimfrost Studio, follows the adventures of a woodland gnome as he journeys through a Swedish Forest. It’s an adventure populated by the creatures and stories of Scandinavian folklore. The diminutive protagonist must sneak and evade his way past many of the devious and dangerous monsters of lore — lore created to scare young children.

It’s an utterly beautiful game, one with photorealistic flora as photographed in the developers’ garden. As the little, protagonist gnome, you’ll push through waterside reeds, splash through streams and weave through long grass — and it all looks wonderful. This is especially impressive considering the project was only started back in March this year, a mere three months before I got to see the game at the Nordic Games Conference.

Although Vaesen’s setting may be beautiful, the world is full of danger. Snakes hide in the long grass, meandering through as they seek out small animals; waves are strong enough to wipe out the little gnome, so hopping from platform to platform is an activity that requires both speed and dexterity. Finally, near the end of the demo I played, you come face to face with a Näcken, a sinister water spirit which swipes and paws at you as you clamber from rock to rock. The pursuit continues further, however I ran out of time with the demo.

The animation work was absolutely astounding considering the project’s youth. As the Näcken sank back into the water, leering down and ahead of the gnome, it gave me a chill — something which few games have managed to do. Another very nice touch comes in the gnome tucking away his pointed hat, folding the peak behind him, as he attempts to sneak through areas.

Your battle against the Näcken is a passive one focused on evasion. However, when I spoke with Dimfrost CEO and project lead Fredrik Selldén about the greater plan for Vaesen he told me that there would later on be enemies which need to be defeated, with the team currently mulling over the thought of bosses that must be climbed up to be defeated in the style of Shadow of the Colossus.

Vaesen is being developed with a 2019 release date in mind. It is definitely launching on PC, while the developers are also hoping to release on consoles. If you want to give the game a go then there will be a demo available this Summer, you can sign up for that on the developer’s website.

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