Where’s Thor when you actually need him?
Tribes of Midgard is hard, especially if you’re a solo player. And that’s me, mostly. I did try the game with my Pure PlayStation colleagues Jeremy and Stuart, but we’re all about as useless as each other, so our early hours were spent trying to figure the game out and get ourselves comfortable with the systems in play.
While Tribes of Midgard can be played solo, it’s most definitely a multiplayer game and, despite my best efforts to play by myself, I had to team up with randos online when my colleagues weren’t around. It was better than struggling alone, though, even if I did have to listen to some dickhead eating loudly into his mic. You know who you are, you disgusting cretin.
Release Date: July 27th, 2021
Developer: Norsfell Games
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Availability: PSN (Digital)
The story of Tribes of Midgard goes that you have a base and you must defend it from the nightly attacks from the Hellthings. That’s it. That’s the game. Oh, there’s also the massive Jotun that come stamping around the map.
While they look big and nasty, they’re actually not all that bad – their attack animations are obvious, so dodge-rolling out of the way is easy, and so long as you’ve got some half-decent weaponry and you go to the Jotun before it arrives at your base, you can chip away at its health bar long before it stamps on the magic tree at the centre of your base.
Protecting your magic tree – the tree of life, actually – is your goal. Once its health bar hits zero, it’s game over and you do it all over again, but maybe a little bit better. It’s a roguelike, then, with your character resetting every time you play a new game, though with a few improvements that you gain by playing and levelling up.
I didn’t really care for the roguelike stuff. I lived through the SEGA Megadrive days and in a neighbourhood where power outages were a daily occurrence. I’ve done my roguelike times, thank you very much.
I did like the base building and levelling up, though. Your base has a few people manning different stations, like a blacksmith, a tailor, and so on. You can buy new gear from each station and upgrade your character, as well as upgrading the characters manning the stations. The higher their level, the more stuff they’ll have to sell you, and the more capable they’ll be in the nightly battle against the Hellthing invaders.
I quite liked having my own little team to upgrade and fight alongside, even when I was playing solo. I’d have liked a little more interaction with them – maybe the ability to place them in specific places. It would have given the game a bit more tactical depth and really pushed the tower-defence aspect a little harder.
Instead, the game lets you build up your base’s defences with towers and barriers at each entrance, but it’s basic stuff and it takes an age to get anything actually built.
To build a great big gate or an archer’s tower, you need to collect enough resources and then turn those resources into other resources. Then you also have the quarry, the farm, the lumbermill and so on – these can be built up to give a passive income of resources, but again, you need to already have a ton of stuff to build these up.
It’s a bit cumbersome and I’d have preferred something more streamlined to keep from wasting precious time flicking through menus – remember, the clock is always ticking down until the next invasion.
In that respect, Tribes of Midgard is as much a time-management game as it is a hack n’ slash base defender game.
There’s a quest board that will send you on journey’s far from your base, and as a solo player, this is almost impossible to manage. You need to make sure you’ve got enough time to complete the task at hand as well as enough time to get back to your base and defend it. Plus, harvesting resources to keep yourself well-stocked with weapons, armour, health, and other useful gear.
It’s best played online with others, then. With a team around you, it’s easier to manage the micro-tasks as well as the big events.
I got lucky and managed to play with some really good players for most of my review time. Yes, they carried me, but I helped, too. I gathered wood… and stone… and even killed a Hellthing or two. I helped but I wish I’d been able to help myself in solo mode. I like the core mechanics and the art style is great – give me an X-Men Legends 3 by Norsfell any day – but being tied to the ticking clock effectively ruins solo play for me.
Tribes of Midgard is a bad game for solo players, a good game if you team up with randoms, but a great one if you can get your mates together for a couple of hours.
Tribes of Midgard PS5, PS4 Review
Tribes of Midgard’s biggest problem is tied to its core gameplay loop – time. There’s just never enough of it. The game has a world full of goodies and gear to loot, but you’ll be lucky to see half of it, and even less if you’re a solo player.
There are still good times to be had and the loop is fun and rewarding – just make sure you take a few mates with you,
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS5. Reviewed using PS5.