The qualifiers will get you every time. You know: you struck the ball rather well, since you held the bat upside down. Or, it’s a very good omelette, since it was made with eggs weeks after their expiry date. So what about Song of Iron? Is it it’s a very good game, since it was created by one person, or is it simply a successful success?
Song of Iron is a 2.5d horizontal scrolling action game, whose most remarkable most remarkable feature is an almost photorealistic cornalistic world that absolutely breathes the mystery, the presentiment and beauty of wild Scandinavian spaces. When you follow the character from left to right, your view is often blocked by trees and other objects in the foreground, which gives depth to the stage. In addition, the enemies will pass from the foreground and background in the background, engaging in the fight. Add a masterful but subtle music (by Will Goss) and an audio design, effective lighting and an artistic direction, and everything is beautiful, no qualifier is necessary.
But we all know breathtaking games to watch and not fun to play. Do the history and mechanisms of Song of Iron correspond to the impressive world in which they take place?
You play a Viking, Man or Woman warrior, whose village has been shaved, and you launch yourself in a quest for answers and retaliation, sometimes helped by the gods. From the outset, the minimalist character of Song of Iron is revealed: the choice of the genre is the only parameter that you can control. You do not have an inventory, you founce rather to the melee weapon, the shield and the arrows that you can recover on your enemies and the environment. There are no statistics or upgrade, no number of armor damage or weapons to fear, and quite about the simplest user interface I have seen since years. The backup points are subtle and brilliant lights, and your health regenerates with time, so there are no consumables. The enemies do not have a health bars, which can certainly be a little frustrating during boss meetings or frequent multi-enemy fighting. As a warrior, you have access to more powerful weapons as the game progresses and you end up gaining several special capacities on timers, such as trampled attacks or the addition of fire or lightning to your weapon. But you will never be stunned by a tree skill or make thorny decisions on the character trait to be improved. Although a major team and budget have been able to change these mechanisms or make them more complex, I suspect that the minimalist approach is the basis of the developer’s concept Joe Winter. I think it’s a mixed success.
Although Song of Iron is certainly not a game similar to Souls, there are small echoes of the franchise from Software in the opaque narration and the combat mechanisms, which rest strongly on dodge, blocking and good Weapon for the task. It is not as easy as it seems, because weapons must be gleaned on enemies fallen in combat or collected along the way, so there is always a chance to be under-equipped and fighting great groups of enemies or a boss. Move in the environment is simple and mechanically healthy, but at least on the controller, some buttons assignments are not particularly intuitive or go against muscle memory other action games. Have remappable controls would be really useful. The fight itself is usually engaging and often requires tactical reflection and knowledge of alternatives, like simply rolling or sprinter in front of a particularly powerful mini-boss or a crowd of enemies. Sometimes thinking a little too out of the beaten track can break the game, and I came across a few cases where a particular tactic collapsed completely. Fortunately, Song of Iron is full of backup points.
Although the exploration conforms to the 2D nature of the game, it always involves a little more than just a movement from left to right. The platform, the resolution of puzzles, the thrust and the traction of objects all progress the world, with very few obvious clues, but no puzzles is particularly frustrating, except for orders not always precise. This is another area in which the approach without intervention really works to immerse the player in the story, which (no spoilers) takes a little turn at the end of the five-hour game. The balance of combat, exploration and history felt on each other.
I would like to say that Song of Iron was an excellent game created by a developer, without qualifier. I think the problems of Song of Iron have less to do with the fact that it is a solo effort that perhaps the impassability of the extreme minimalist approach as a concept, associated with mechanical frustrations. constant with movement and fight. Yet I like that Song of Iron is not aloud by the swelling of the features. It is an iteration of spare, beautiful and captivating of a genre that always needs fresh ideas and bold and singular visions.