Niflheim is one of the Nine Worlds in Norse Mythology, other such worlds are Midgard and Asgard. Midgard is the home of humans and Asgard is the home of the Aesir, a.k.a. the Norse Gods like Odin, Thor and Týr. Valhalla, which is where the honored souls of brave warriors go in the afterlife, is also located in Asgard. Niflheim, however is the destination for the dishonored souls. It literally means “Dark” or “Misty World”. Niffelheim takes place in this frozen wasteland, where conditions are harsh and unforgiving. Let’s delve deeper into Niffelheim’s treacherous realm.
After dying a hero’s death and being celebrated, the soul of a Norse king is abducted by evil spirits who plan to use them to their own benefits. Instead of reaching the glorious Valhalla, our hero is taken to Niffelheim. Our aim is the overcome all the challenges Niffelheim and defeat its Lords in their own land and in their own game. Our hero will need to hunt wild animals, chop down forests, spend countless hours underground, mining and slashing undead monsters. So, essentially, Niffelheim is Skyrim meets Terraria or “[insert 2D platformer, sandbox game here]”.
When the game begins, we start off outside of small rocky base. Almost immediately, we are given a quest, which serves as a tutorial along with a few more quests down the line, quests such as gather 2 wolf hides, 10 logs etc. While doing the quests we will discover more and more mechanics of the game and gain access to new technology, as well as earn a few cool rewards for completing them. One thing that bothered me about the questing system is that after completing a quest you have to wait a bit before getting a new one, which seems to me unnecessary. While doing various tasks, the character levels up his respective skills which make him more efficient in the said tasks. If you mine a lot, you become a better miner and if you hunt a lot you become a better hunter.
In our base we can build several workshops, like an alchemy lab where we can make potions and beer(!). There is also a sawmill which lets us make various armors and building materials and more. While on the surface we can hunt game and bigger animals, collect resources for making tools and upgrading our base and explore the surrounding areas. It is good idea to keep upgrading your base, because from time to time the base is invaded by enemies and you must defend it. What is more, there are underground dungeons with randomly generated halls which feature minable walls and deadly enemies, so be on your guard when you tread below the surface. By the way, if you die, which will happen a lot, your souls returns to your base (well, you are practically dead anyway) and you must find your corpse to resume the game, a nifty feature which made an old WoW player very happy.
What about the graphics? The game’s assets are all fully hand drawn and quite impressive to be honest. The game looks like an illustrated novel and this feeling makes it much more immersive. The animations are quite interesting. They don’t look realistic, since they are kind of twitchy, but they suit the art-style of the game perfectly because they make the models look like articulated paper drawings. Niffelheim’s art style is a an art style that I personally enjoy a lot and I’d like to see in more and more games in the future.
Although the game is still in Early Access and some features are missing, it already feels like a complete game with solid gameplay and many things to keep yourself busy. And what is more, on top of all that, the game also features multiplayer modes, which vary from PvP, where you can fight with other people, to Co-op where with friends try to survive in this harsh land.
Niffelheim can be found on Steam for 19,99€ and as mentioned above is still under development.