Bad North Renders Vikings Cute and RTS Simple. No, Really

Bad North

Adorable and Brutal aren’t words you’d normally find strung together in the description of a common noun. Neither are Tactical and Simplicity but a quick glimpse of Bad North hints that it can be done.

From the fog that has settled on a seemingly idyllic kingdom of modular 3D tile-sets emerges an invasion; a band of Vikings keen on sending the descendants of a slaughtered king to the bottom of the ocean.

As one such descendant the onus of survival falls upon you, prince, with a horde of your home’s bravest at your disposal. The future is rendered bleaker however when told that Real-Time Strategy & Procedural Generation are your only means of defense.

The adorability ends where the deceptively cute shuffling of the participating warriors’ feet does, hobbling blood-stained under enemy barrage that progressively turns the holiday backdrop of ocean-green to shades of massacre-red. Real-time dramatic weather effects included, as the trailer illustrates.

The brutality meanwhile lies in the fact that despite the seriousness of your undertaking, the only control you’re given as commander-in-chief is over the broad strokes of battle. Meaning Bad North has players specify where exactly they’d like to place units of swordsmen, archers or fire-troopers leaving its programmers do the rest.

With each level procedurally generated by one Oskar Stålberg (previously Ubisoft, UsTwo and more than a little familiarity with procedurally generated demos), winning-strategy lies in identifying spots of advantage/disadvantage and overcoming them with positioned units.

Sort of like placing levees to stave off a flood, I’ve heard Stålberg explain of the A.I’s path-finding and simulation mechanics. Constant success attains upgrades and recruits over the unravelling campaign, balanced out by elements of rogue-lite that take away slain commanders for good.

The goal then seems to be accessible complexity, and it helps that backing the entire premise is a soundtrack reminiscent of a Braveheart or Apocalypto set piece. That’s Martin Kvale I believe, who alongside Stålberg and Richard Meredith (previously LittleBigPlanet, Little Nightmares) make up Plausible Concept.

Summer 2018 is the date set for this Raw Fury-backed premise and although it can be wish-listed on Steam, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch and Mobile releases are imminent.

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