Dead in Vinland is a survival/management mixed with RPG and adventure elements, developed by CCCP and published by Playdius and Plug In Digital. The game is now available for PC on Steam and thus, I am lucky enough to lay my hands and eyes on this title, and share my first impressions with you.
Dead in Vinland tells the story of a Viking family which was attacked and later exiled to a deserted and mysterious island. There are four people in this family and each of them are playable characters. Our mission is to make our best to keep them alive on the island.
Before anything else, I must admit that I was expecting an average gameplay from Dead in Vinland because I made the mistake of judging the game by its cover image. Oh boy, how wrong I was. I can easily say that it has been a long time since I laid my eyes on such a complete experience from every aspect.
The game starts with a cinematic which tells the event of being exiled and I admit that it could be much more better. Eirik and his family was lucky enough to escape from the wrath of Odin and find an island to dock their ship. This island seems like deserted with little resources to rely on. But, things are about to change.
The survival/management part of the game somehow looks like the best of its kind until now. There are four people and each of them must work hard to survive on this island. The day is divided into two parts and this way, you can assign your members with a task two times during the day. It seems like there is nothing much to do in the beginning, but they are strong Vikings with strong survival skills who have strong needs. There are basic items your characters need in order to survive such as water, food and wood. In the very beginning, the shipwreck will help you endure for a couple of days, but once it dries out, you need to take care of yourself.
By assigning them on various duties, your characters will be able to live to see the next day. Collecting clean water, food and wood is an everyday job while exploring the map provides you with new locations and thus, new resources. The game is full of stories and items about Vikings. Building, on the other hand, is a must if you want to become self-sufficient. You can build to have a better shelter, a healing tent, a brewery, a farm and such. Building will also require resources and it will require more and more items as you go on.
When the sun goes bye-bye, the family gathers in the shelter and have a small talk. While Eirik and his wife are reasonable human beings, their daughter and Eirik’s sister-in-law are stubborn and wayward. Relationship between the family members is one of the most inconstant features of the game. Somehow, it feels like it is happening without your help. There are situations which can be interacted and other than that, they keep their unsteady family dynamics to themselves.
Gathering in the shelter reminds me of the judgement day since they all sit there with their long faces, judging you of not managing them good enough. After the small talk, their stats will be shown. Every night, you must give them water and food. This part of the game really puts the burden on your shoulder, seeing their stats rise and fall because of your actions creates a bond between you and your characters.
With no doubt, survival/management part of Dead in Vinland is highly enjoyable and this is what makes this game addictive. I found myself saying “Just one more day” more than once before I was able to quit the game. It is so well designed and provides great pleasure with great mechanics. I was sure that I would be able keep this family stay honorable and strong until their last days on this island, until I figured out that they are not alone.
Before long, a brute and his men attacked the family and this way, the game introduced me to its turn-based combat system. It is not complex and combat is not a big part of the game. Yet occasionally, during your exploration of the map, you will encounter with enemies and a turn-based combat will start. It is simple as it is and gives you a chance to collect resources by looting enemies. Knowing that a brute is always a thread makes things a little bit heavier when it comes to the general atmosphere of the game, yet combat is not that challenging. But, it is fun and a way to collect resources after all. One of the disadvantages of the combat is that there is a chance of you getting hurt. And with insufficient resources, healing is not that easy.
When it comes to the exploration part, I can say that the map is big and exploration is more enjoyable than I think. Each location provides you with a scene with one interactive spot. Each is different and the map is full of surprises. You can find a chest full of resources but may hurt yourself while trying to open it. You may find a berry bush and use them to hunt birds. You may find a tomb or even a goddess. In order to interact with the spot, you need several skills. Each character has different skills and you can choose the one who fits the best to the situation at hand. The game will check if they have the skill and as a result, your action will be successful or not.
There are 20 skills to develop and more than 600 character traits, so it is up to you how you shape your characters. This character customization gives you a chance to create very unique characters who are necessary for survival.
You can also encounter with other friendly people and bring them to your camp to live with you. It is a nice touch since after a while, your daily work becomes overwhelming for four people. Each character is so different from each other and playing each of them is a pleasure.
When it comes to the visual part of Dead in Vinland, it is hard not to admire it. When the day turns to night, it is a pleasure to witness the beauty of the colors. Every character and scene is highly detailed while the camp site actually feels like home.
But (here it is), I would like the soundtracks to be in a harmony with the gameplay. Somehow, it does not feel right, maybe because I found the campsite too much peaceful for the soundtracks. Other than that, I will be damned if I say something against the Dead in Vinland.
Other charming part of the game is that the story is so catching, you forget that you are playing a game. You delve deep into your characters’ personal lives and every day is a struggle for each of you. I love that how the story-telling is so successful and intense while gameplay is so much fun and lively. You do not try to survive, you settle with them. Seeing your settlement grow bigger and bigger is enough to put a smile on your face and doing it in a way so stainless is a huge success.
Overall, Dead in Vinland is a complete and thrilling title and I consider myself lucky for every second I spent on this game. It offers a great experience while mixing different genres together. Of course, some stays in the shadows while survival/management part is under the spotlight, yet it is a great pleasure to experience.
If you are not looking for a restless survival game where you only try to survive and chop heads off, but if you are after a meaningful gameplay experience with a mixed bag of different genres, I highly recommend you to give a Dead in Vinland a chance by visiting here. You won’t regret it.
Dead in Vinland was reviewed using a Steam key provided by the publisher.
- Charming visuals
- A rich and intriguing story, brilliant story-telling
- Great character design
- A successful example of mixed genres
- Soundtracks could be so much better
- No skip options on dialogues