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Iron Tides Early-Access Review

Odin! Guide our ships…

When it comes to turn-based games, I don’t count myself as a follower. I always loved them from afar; wishing that someday I will have enough time to relish the classics such as Heroes of M&M or Jagged Alliance, which I couldn’t afford to witness their good times. But as soon as writing this Early-Access review, I had a feeling that this would be a starter for me, like Emine stated in her StellarHub article.

That probably is based on the fact that Iron Tides is, on many levels, a mobile game; even it is published only on PC. But that is not a downer in my terms, because I had a nice load of fun.

As an Early-Access title, Iron Tides offers a strangely polished “rogue-like Viking simulator” experience. I think I don’t even need to explain the “strangely polished” part; considering the ups, downs and the downfalls of Early Access titles. Anyway, our little game is based on managing our crew’s journey through the check-boxed Viking seas. Square after square, we scan the ocean to find treasure, random encounters, and of course, bandits.

I did not play, but watched Sunless Sea a lot of times and I had a strange feeling of resemblance between these two. I think it is these sea-exploring parts that made me think about the latter. But keep that in mind that Iron Tides is nothing like Sunless Sea, nor the other way.

Anyway, in our journey, we encounter a lot of battles and if you want your crew to be full of health in these battles, your stamina meter must not be empty. For every box you travel in the sea, you lose a part of your stamina and if it depletes, your crew starts to lose health due to starvation. That means, your fighters will enter the battle weakened and your chances will fall rapidly. But don’t worry, in every fight –or encounter— you have a chance of dropping food as loot… Food as loot, I like this. I want to role-play a Monolith soldier in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. mumbling “food as a loot, look a foot, foot is not a loot” repeatedly. Howdy ho! Yeah. Where was my copy of Call of Chernobyl? Ahem. BUT if we are to return to our topic, this aforementioned chance of dropping food drops continuously.

AHEM. Let’s have a gallery break shall we?

Back to the point

As you can see in these screenshots, these “encounters” are not necessarily in a destructive manner. Sometimes you find mystical ruins, some guys in those mystical ruins, shrines, or fallen –or nor fallen—warriors. Even though Iron Tides lets you decide what to do in these happenstances, they affect very little –only changing thing is the income. AND they lack a lot of context. There could be more writing to fill in the blanks and make the story much more enjoyable. I wanted to learn what was that “Black Robed Guy” was doing in the ruins I’ve stumbled upon while searching Sigurd’s ship. But know that they are only names. The Black Robed Guy gave us a “Sunstone” and we walked away. That’s all.

While mentioning the lack of content, I must also point another negative: We have characters, and as far as I know from other turn-based games, our characters are one of the most important elements of gameplay. They have backgrounds, they have dialogues, ideas, emotions, conflicts, trust issues, etc. In Iron Tides, that is not the case. In a game that frightens its players with permanent character loss, the lack of character in our crew was also a disappointment. Anyhow, you’ll get used to your characters, and will be in a deep state of sorrow after losing them. If I’d lost my Valkyrie Ingrid (I didn’t change the names of the characters, but there was an option, fyi) I’d be ruined, and I don’t know why.

…And that’s the biggest thing that makes one play Iron Tides. You don’t know why, but grow used to the characters, to the world, to the gameplay and find yourself addicted to this cute little game… Which is, technically, not cute; because we have a crew comprised of Vikings, but I’m sure you get my meaning.

The premature skill system also can be counted amongst the downsides of Iron Tides being a mobile-like game. It works, but the choices we make are irrelevant, because we don’t have a “skill tree” in technical terms. It is more like a skill stick, because the skills are given in a linear fashion. But anyway, Iron Tides is a little turn-based game with a little price tag, especially compared to the other titles in the genre. If you are not familiar with these kind of games, you just found your starter pack. Of course, comparing Iron Tides with the full-force classics such as XCOM series would be a dull attempt, but you know where I’m getting at. And if you want to know what to expect from its full release, let’s listen to the developers:

“The full version includes a bundle of new battlefields, more chance encounters, additional enemy factions, and a few new characters. Our vision is to provide a complex rogue-like experience that balances challenge, variety, and consequence.”


  • A very polished title, especially for Early-Access
  • Visuals and sounds are neat
  • Gameplay is fun
  • Balanced difficulty


  • Lack of context
  • More like a mobile game than a PC game in various aspects

Iron Tides was reviewed using a Steam key provided by the publisher.


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Written by Erdil Kapucu

Open-world dweller, amateur writer & musician and a passionate supporter of the Addressing Oneself in Second Person is Ridiculous club.

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