Norse mythology has always been a popular source of inspiration, be it Marvel’s Thor or PlayStation’s God of War. Ellada Games’ Niffelheim, is no different, bringing a survival RPG to life with a touch of that Norse magic.
As one of many warriors who has fallen in battle, you suddenly find yourself in Niffelheim, a land of the mist and the Norse version of hell, instead of the hallowed halls of Valhalla. Your objective is simple, you need to escape and reach Valhalla.
Of course, it is never that simple. Hordes of undead are gunning for you, and you will need to explore this land, scavenging materials, defend yourself, and eventually construct a portal that will lead to your salvation. Each character class possesses different strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to tailor your playstyle accordingly.
Niffelheim definitely has grand plans for players to follow, but the execution can sometimes leave much to be desired. The combat can be too simple and boring, with only an attack or a block, it becomes a battle of attrition for both your HP and your patience with the game. Even adding ranged attacks do little to make the combat dynamic or interesting.
Thankfully, the enemy designs are inspired and intriguing, and really echoes the atmosphere and themes that Niffelheim brings to the table. In fact, the entirety of the 2D world is gorgeous to look at, even with a limited palette of colours. Niffelheim is suitably dreary and eerie, and each area you come upon has its own unique taste and mysteries to uncover.
And exploration is a must if you want to gather the right resources. Unfortunately, resource farming is a grind. Even the most basic of components will require a significant amount of materials, which translate to hours of work for your survivor. The fact that items have a durability level makes things even more tedious. There is also a day/night cycle that provide more avenues to gather rare materials, but also increased danger.
Unlike its counterparts, Niffelheim’s crafting progression can feel antiquated and slow, an arduous task that can easily affect your enjoyment of the game. At least, one can point towards Niffelheim’s wonderful inventory and UI design as a positive, be it instant access to both your inventory and base storage, or the handy sorting button. Such quality of life design choices go a long way for a survival game
The danger comes from the deceased denizens of the land, usually found wandering about, or congregated in the game’s many dungeons. With treasure awaiting and more loot to be found, these areas can be a fun distraction to the more mundane tasks required for survival.
The mixture of danger and treasures often requires a strong warrior like yourself, and there are several companions in the realm that will ask for your aid. Such quests are usually fetch quests, and can fetch some nice rewards like weapons and such. For the most part, they are another way of making you more prepared for the journey ahead.
Your schedule can also be disrupted by Events, either horde attacks or ultimatums, and you will be wise to drop what you are doing and resolve them or face dire consequences. Save your base from the hordes, or hunt down an item for some nasty folks, it is up to you to weigh the costs and benefits.
Like most survival titles, it all boils down to a cycle. In Niffelheim, you gather resources, construct your gear, rinse and repeat. There is no doubt that the core gameplay can get repetitive, and unless you are a big fan of the genre, it is hard to see how long the game can hold one’s attention.
Standing out for its stunning graphics and design choices, beneath the surface lies a repetitive game that struggles to keep things fresh. Niffelheim could have been so much better, but comes up disappointingly short despite an inviting coating.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Look past its beauty, and Niffelheim falters at keeping you engaged and interested to survive.
Gameplay - 6/10
Story - 6/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 5/10
User Review( votes)
Jake is a full-time trophy hunter and achievement gatherer on consoles, and part-time Steam Sale victim. He has a thing for Batman and awesome statues, and running out of space for both. Send help.