When it comes to Indie games, I'm always impressed by the level of creativity that they are able to offer. The Great Whale Road is an RPG that uses a hybrid turn based/card fighting system and makes you responsible for the future of a village by gathering resources. This might sound like the standard for some gamer's but its not everyday you get to be a Viking!
Mythology is always a great background to frame a story around, but being a gamer for many years I can honestly say that I have never played a game that used Norse Mythology. I was excited and thrilled to spend some time playing and learning some new things.
Beautiful things captivate the eye and in the case of Whale Road, things are beautiful. The art style looks as if the pixels and colors were blessed by Asgard itself. I found myself often staring at the ocean as my crew sailed away to far away locations thinking and reflecting on the things that I had to do in a day and that's impressive for an indie title. The game also managed to impress me with how much detail they were able to add into 2d figures, but I'll let you all be the judge of that.
Gameplay is where most Indie games prove themselves and I will admit that there were a lot of interesting ideas behind the game. In my time with the The Great Whale Road I started my conquest with the Danes of Ifarrsted, but upon the final release of the game, there should be two or more other factions to play through the game with. The game is then broken into two parts, The preparation for Winter, and Sailing on a Quest.
The preparation for Winter involves instructing your village on how to spend the next couple of months investing in resources. You are assigned 10 points to put into various categories to help advance your village over the Winter months. These stats range from Diplomacy, Hunting, Husbandry, and many others all with the goal of building up your resources.
Once these points are assigned, you let the next couple of months play out and you are shown the results of your investments. This can result in an increase in warriors, food, craftsmen and all other stats all which will aid your village in its growth. There are also random events that occur that involve you making decisions on how to fix issues. These can range from someone stealing chickens and assigning someone to either watch the chickens, or having someone sit in ambush and wait for the thief, or you sacrifice some chickens to the Gods and pray for a blessing. It'll be interesting to see where the full version of the game will take this, but I found the choices to be well varied.
Once all the preparations for the Winter are acted out, it is then time to accept a quest and take your merry band of Vikings and set sail. Playing as the Danes, my quests centered around finding out why the Saxtons betrayed them and killed their Jarl. In order to find answers you will have to sail out to far away lands to find your answers.
You assign a crew of people also known as a "Band" each person having different personality traits, which interact with the stories random events. Some members of your band will suggest raiding unknown ships that pass you by, while others say to avoid confrontation. Once characters are assigned, you also assign resources and supplies to trade and barter with, then you hit the sea.
At some point in the game words are just not going to cut it and you will find yourself in combat. Combat is carried out by moving your characters on a hexagonal board. you are able to move your characters, assign them to attack, defend or wait until the next turn. This is common practice in most games of the genre, but Whale Road utilizes a card based fighting system. The cards give you bonus stats, special abilities, and other members of your Band to help you fight your foes. I found the card system a little interesting to understand but once I understood it, I was raiding ships and holding my shield wall against the best of them.
The Great Whale Road has potential and will take some more refinement before it's ready. Early versions of game's are often plagued with bugs and other things that can make observing the game as a whole a little difficult. The Great Whale Road is scheduled for a release in the fourth quarter of this year, so we will soon have a chance to see how far this road will take us. For more news and updates on the Great Whale Road, stay tuned to GameLuster.