Fimbul tells a tale of Kveldever, who, after being slain at the hands of his brother Knut, is resurrected into a quest of conspiracy, betrayal, and vengeance. While this could be the setup for any number of big budget dozen-hour games, here, this is told in a very minimal way through some well-drawn comic panels. It’s an approach that works well, keeping you informed enough to be invested without over doing it. Really, the same could be said of the game as a whole.
Over the short run-time, you’ll frequently visit new areas and learn new moves – but things never get too complicated or overwhelming. Combat is a simple, slow-paced affair. Weapons must be found and picked up, though there are only 3 types to choose from – all of which can be held at once and swapped between at will. Swords are quick but useless against shields, while axes are slower but will break through defenses. Spears can be thrown to shatter shields or kill ranged foes, but aren’t much cop up close.
Finally, shields and helmets can be equipped for defense, but can be broken so you’ll need to scavenge more from the battlefield. There are no legendary items or buffs to be found here. It’s a refreshing change to just get what you are given and not need to check stat screens or hunt for exotic items. At a few points throughout, you’ll gain a new ability, which aid in dispatching enemies that bit quicker, or, heal you up, but again – no need to worry about upgrades or the like. You always feel just powerful enough when all the above are combined, without making things too easy.
In fact, you’ll likely need all the help you can get. Any given area will see you outnumbered by a large swarm of enemies, all looking to attack at once. It’s here you’ll need to control the pace – slow movements and use of the dodge will keep you in one piece. Get yourself surrounded and things will go downhill quickly. It can get a little difficult to see what is happening when things get too crazy though. Between the muted color palette, drawn back camera, and somewhat stodgy controls, I found my health being drained rather quick without really knowing where I was.
Occasionally you’ll be joined by some allies too. You can’t hurt them, thankfully, but the added visual noise can often hinder more than they’ll help. While combat is basic, most fights are over relatively quick so things don’t tend to get too repetitive. The same can’t be said for the boss fights however. Only a handful appear throughout, but they all rely on the same slow and imprecise tactic: run around gathering spears, wait for the red indicator, and throw. Sometimes they’ll fall over, in which case flail your sword at them for a few seconds, but mostly they’ll just stumble before repeating.
These wouldn’t be so bad if the aforementioned stodgy controls weren’t also hindered by Kveldever’s inconsistent throw. Holding the button will charge up for a stronger toss, but sometimes this won’t register – your spear limply landing in front of you or missing the target completely. Successful attempts also barely touch the life bar, leading to these fights dragging out way longer than they needed to have been. There is one positive to these though. A basic moral choice system is in place here, allowing you to affect the story by choosing to let those defeated bosses live or not.
What you choose will have ramifications for later on, of course, but don’t fret too much over the decision. The devs track your progress in what they call the life string. Here you can jump back to any previous scene and replay, including said life or death choices, without having to replay the battle again. It’s a nice addition and makes it all the more tempting to easily see the other outcomes. And if nothing else, it’ll allow achievement hunters out there to easily gain the full 1000G.
Whilst it’s slightly let down by its stodgy controls and its dull boss battles, Fimbul has enough going for it to make it a worthwhile investment. The story is simple, but told well enough to keep you in place throughout its short run. Combat, though hectic at points, is satisfying enough to see you through most encounters. It would have been nice to see more from its interesting choice system, but overall, the game gets more right than it gets wrong.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.