Viking Squad — Slick Entertainment — PS4, Steam — October 4, 2016 — $14.99
“Slick Entertainment” is a tiny studio out of Vancouver, Canada that have been making games since 2008; their most notable (and first ever project) was “N+” on the Xbox 360. “Metanet Software” got in touch with “Slick Entertainment” and “Klei Entertainment Inc.” to bring the original flash game, “N” to the XBLA marketplace, and it became an instant classic. Since that time, they released the top-down car combat game “Scrap Metal”, for XBLA in 2010, followed by the silly endless runner and shooter “Shellrazer”, for mobile platforms in 2012. Since then, the team has been working diligently on their new project, “Viking Squad”.
“Viking Squad” is a lane based brawler that feels and plays like “Castle Crashers”, but the lanes you attack and move around in are more defined then it’s mentor; having these lanes prevents a lot of “swing and a miss” moments and keeps everything organized, while still maintaining a great level of harmonized chaos. Attacking enemies is simple: use your basic attack as much as possible, follow it up with a heavy (rechargeable) attack to stun your foe, block or dodge when necessary, and unleash your Valor attack when things get out of hand, or if you just want to see the world burn. Like any arcade brawler before it, you fight waves of enemies that are easily eviscerated and become more difficult as you progress through it’s various levels. Every segment of the map is inhabited by specific enemy types and ends with awesome boss battles that require strategy and impeccable timing. The world map is painless to navigate and every section demands your return, as there are locked doors and special characters that take you to secret areas when they receive special idols.
If you die during a mission, you are taken back to your village where you can spend the chalices you’ve collected on new gear and weapons, as well as buff your hit points, your rune power and your attack strength. The money you collect can be used to buy keys that unlock doors and chests, valor charges for your super (Valor) attack, potions to replenish health and a potion upgrade that increases their effectiveness. If you have chalices leftover and can’t purchase anything new, you can take them to a station that will convert them into money to be used later, or lose them altogether if you decide to sail to the next area.
The art style is bright and cartoony, with just the right amount of Scandinavian heavy metal tributes. Every inch of this game has been hand crafted and the level of detail is incredible. Unfortunately the animations are a little jerky, but the level of fun and its visual aesthetic keep you more than distracted. “Viking Squad” has gone through many different iterations over the past couple of years, namely the refined visual aesthetic, tighter controls, no on-screen cue’s for heavy attacks, and no procedurally generated maps, but why did they strip the player count from four to three? Whatever the reason, it doesn’t hold “Viking Squad” back from being a pillaging good time.