Bad North bills itself as a real-time tactics rogue-lite. I’m not normally a fan of indie games that compare themselves in any way to Rogue. Usually, it seems rogue-like games make poor design the staring feature. Did the world generator give you a bad time with no possible path to survive? That’s apparently okay as long as we compare our game to Rogue. Bad North is not this.
Gameplay in Bad North consists of selecting islands on a world map to defend from an invading Viking horde. You’re given the island’s basic layout and some idea of the invading forces before you deploy your companies to the island. After a battle, deployed companies will be fatigued. You need to proceed from left to right across the map connecting islands to form a chain. Beware though, because behind you the inescapable flood of Viking based death comes.
Bad North is a beautiful game and a delightful experience. The first thing I noticed was the simplicity of its tutorial. It told you exactly what you needed to discover how the game works and nothing more. The user interface is delightfully minimal and the controls are completely intuitive. This makes the game’s challenges, regardless of their difficulty, feel fair.
Where most tactical games allow you to pause, Bad North gives no quarter. When you select a company to move time slows greatly, but doesn’t stop. You’re quickly trained into a mindset of making snap decisions and making the best of the consequences. Unlike pure rogue-likes, there is some respite.
About and after an hour nail-biting battle I stumbled upon a checkpoint. At the moment it came I was relieved. For the purists out there this feature can be deactivated, but I am not a tactical genius so I’ll take every advantage I can.
As I said at the beginning, this sort of game isn’t my usual. I don’t know how well it stacks up against similar games. I have managed to play a few hours in as many days and I’ve enjoyed myself. Which is, ultimately, the point.
Bad North: Jotunn Edition is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, iOS, and Android. There is a free demo on Steam. At the time of publication, Bad North is available as part of the Xbox Game Pass.
For more information, visit www.badnorth.com/
All images were provided as part of the Bad North press kit.