It’s Better Late Than Never time again, the review series that takes a look at the gaming titles we have unforgivably overlooked in recent months.
In this instalment we will be looking at three titles: the Viking village simulator namely Northgard, the unusual and semi-gruesome Bio Inc. Redemption, and the nostalgia-laden Life is Strange: Farewell.
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Northgard is a village management sim that puts you in charge of your own Viking clan. Set in a fictional world steeped in Norse mythology, the campaign tasks you with settling a newfound continent while battling your Viking rivals for supremacy. But while you and your brethren vie for control of this strange new world, there is a devious plot hatching that threatens to destroy your sacred and ancient Viking traditions.
Northgard’s campaign is divided into various set pieces that stretch across the new world. Each set piece will drop you into a small map where you will have to continuously claim adjacent territories and fight off the increasingly dangerous mythical creatures that protect them while you and your people struggle to survive the harsh resource-consuming winters.
For the most part your village runs itself, with you only having to order the construction of buildings (houses, woodcutter’s hut, training camps, etc.) and assigning your villagers to take over their relevant duties.
While this might sound simple, balancing your resources on this harsh continent can be quite complex at times, usually requiring you to constantly reassign your workers to ensure your village is happy or, at the least, content. If you fail to do so, your village will stop attracting new residents and will eventually force your other villagers to leave. This can become overwhelming at times, but the reward and satisfaction of finally seeing your village thrive makes it more than worth your time.
Visually, I found Northgard stunning. While it might not win any prizes for graphical fidelity, its bold and saturated colours give it a pleasantly distinctive appearance that perfectly complements its light-hearted and entertaining narrative.
If management sims or Vikings are your thing, then I can’t recommend Northgard enough. Personally, it is one of my favourite games of 2018 so far.
Bio Inc Redemption
Bio Inc. Redemption is definitely one of the more unique and bizarre games I’ve played recently. This “biomedical simulator” puts you in charge of a patient’s life and provides you with the opportunity to either keep their health in check or medically torture them in the most sophisticated ways possible. While I certainly had some moral qualms about the latter, I have to admit in terms of gameplay it was a much more exciting endeavour.
In the Choose Life campaign mode, you’re tasked with saving the lives of your patients, which basically means you are just reacting to your patient’s medical needs by monitoring their various biological systems (nervous system, digestive system, immune system, etc.) and providing the relevant treatment.
Sometimes you will encounter a more complex issue that will require you to cross-reference symptoms to identify the potential causes, and run diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis. While this process was initially interesting, as it gave me some insight into how doctors might approach their patients’ health issues, after a while it became a rather tedious and repetitive exercise.
The fact that you merely see your patients as barely-animated x-ray figures also removes any emotional connection you could have felt towards them otherwise, making the whole process just seem overly analytical.
But when it comes to the Choose Death campaign, where saving lives turns into inflicting unimaginable medical horrors, this disconnected approach actually enhances the experience. Instead of having to worry about trivial things such as saving lives (ugh boring), you are left free to cook up various diseases or assign your patients extremely unhealthy schedules that will put them on the path to their utter demise. And when they die it’s not an issue, as they are nothing more than obscure x-ray figures and death was the intended outcome from the start.
Overall, Bio Inc. Redemption is a fairly affordable and interesting experience. If you have some extra cash lying around and you are looking for something unusual to play, this game is not a bad bet. It’s a lot cheaper and less messy than actually becoming a doctor or torturing madman. If you’re strapped for cash though maybe give this one a pass until those Benjamins start rolling in again.
Life Is Strange: Farewell
Life is Strange: Farewell is a short bonus episode that was released as part of the Life is Strange: Before the Storm Deluxe Edition. It serves as the ultimate prequel to the Life is Strange series and a final “farewell” to its beloved protagonists, Max Caulfield and Chloe Price.
Farewell takes us into Max and Chloe’s youth, providing us with an opportunity to experience them in an innocent and playful light, in a time before the overwhelming and heartbreaking events of the greater Life is Strange series unfold. Chloe’s father is still alive and Max is still living in Arcadia Bay, living their worry-free lives as the inseparable BFF’s that we’ve heard so much about in the previous titles.
From role-playing as their favourite pirate heroes to digging up mementos of their childhood, Farewell deeply explores the unbreakable bond between Max and Chloe. I thoroughly enjoyed this light-hearted approach, a great departure from the sorrow-stricken themes of its predecessor, which should put a smile on any Life is Strange fan. With that being said, it’s probably important to note that the game does have its share of sad moments and by the end of it, it’s clear where this episode fits into the series.
But it’s also important to know that it won’t leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth. At its core, Farewell is about saying goodbye to these characters we’ve grown so close to over the last few years, especially considering that both Dontnod (Life is Strange) and Deck Nine (Before the Storm) made it abundantly clear that this is the final time we’ll be spending time with any of these characters.
With Hanna Telle returning as Max and Ashley Burch reprising her role as Chloe after having to refuse it in Before the Storm due to the SAGAFTRA voice actor strike, this final episode was truly a fitting farewell.