Do you have what it takes to survive in the harsh world of Niffelheim… even after your death? Learn more in our Niffelheim review!
Ellada Games, who also gave us the fun Braveland Trilogy, is back on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch with Niffelheim, a game in which you are tasked with surviving in the harsh titular world after death in battle. Instead of going to Asgard to finally rest, the brave warrior is sent to Niffelheim, which in Norse mythology is the cold and dark world of the dead, ruled by Hel. You will embark on this journey either on your own, or by adding up to three AI-controlled opponents to increase the challenge.
You will move your character with the left analog stick, gathering with the X button, collecting items with the Circle button, and attacking with the Square button to defend yourself. The items you collect can be used by pressing a direction on the D-Pad to have quick access to them. Want to open your inventory? Then you can do so with the Options button. If you need to defend from attacks, you can make good use of your shield with the R2 button, changing between weapons with the L2 button to make the most of your available arsenal. Along with gathering, you can also chop for wood or mine for ore by pressing the Triangle button. If all else fails, you can use your energy to summon a dragon with the R1 button.
Before you get started, you will be given the option of selecting what world will be created for you to explore. There is the ancient bear mound, a mountain terrain with rocks and ice, enveloped by a cold mist, in which you will find lots of small animals, wolves, and predators. The one-eyed wolf forest is the dark woods where lots of wild animals roam, but it does offer more opportunities to gather supplies. The moor of the desert eagle is a series of deadly swamps where you will face a considerable challenge. The last option is the ice dragon wasteland, a desert surrounded by mountains in which large predators are always on high alert, ready to pounce on their prey. As you can see, the challenge will gradually increase from one land to the next, so choose wisely!
For your first run with the game, I suggest that you don’t add any opponents so that you can first get a chance to understand how the game works and how its survival gameplay mechanics will come into play. The game can prove to be challenging enough when it’s only you against the land and the creatures that inhabit it, so be sure to do some trial runs on your own before you add adversaries that won’t stop if they have a chance of completely destroying you and your castle.
Before diving into this adventure, you can select between the four available classes. There is the Viking, an experienced fighter hardened by sea expedition after sea expedition. He will get bonuses to bleeding and stun resistance, as well as a slower metabolism that makes it so that you don’t grow hungry as fast as other classes. The Valkyrie is the female class in the game, and along with slow metabolism and a decent defense, she will have a bonus against poison and burning damage. The Berserker, as its name suggests, will be a powerhouse that can deal a lot of damage, but it will grow hungrier at a faster pace. The final option is the Shaman, who has an innate resistance to all types of damage, dealing the lowest damage of the bunch while also having the fastest metabolism of all classes. Something else to consider is that each of the classes will have different hit points, defense, and attack stats.
On top of having to survive, you will also need to keep your castle safe. At first, it’s not much of a castle (at least on the outside!), but you’ll get a chance to improve and upgrade it as you go. Your castle could be under attack while you explore, so you will need to quickly rush back to it when this happens, or else it might end up crumbling down. Running back to your castle will be the only option you have for a bit, but once you’ve managed to collect enough gold coins, you will have the option of paying a fee to instantly teleport back, so that you can deal with those foolish enough to attack your castle. If you’re inside of a dungeon or your mine, the fee to return to your castle will be only five coins, which is always worth it.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to do in Niffelheim, so I suggest that as soon as you start a run, you press down on the right analog stick (the R3 button), so that you can access the in-game tutorial which offers some valuable information that will aid you on your quest. Inside of your workshop you will have access to a sawmill (once built), a chest where you can store things (you can build extra chests if needed), a forge (which, again, you’ll need to build), a throne you can sit on to recover some of your health as you rest, a kitchen where you can cook things, an alchemy workshop, and more.
Since your goal is to eventually make it to Asgard, you will need to apply everything you learn in the tutorial to survive long enough to make going to Asgard a real possibility. To do this, you will need to defeat many bosses inside of the dungeons to try and obtain a fragment of the portal that will lead you to Asgard. Along with the portal pieces, bosses will also aggressively protect other valuable treasure that can be put to good use in future battles against regular enemies and bosses alike. I got lucky during my first boss fight since there was a nearby healing spot in the dungeon, so I managed to land a half dozen attacks with my very sharp sword before running back to the healing spot, which made the boss walk back to its lair, allowing me to fully heal up after a few seconds.
Your actions will reward you with experience points, which can, in turn, allow you to make progress in leveling up each of your skill sets. Take, for example, the Woodcutter skill. To boost the Woodcutter skill, you will need to cut down many trees with your axe. Level up, and you will improve your skills to Disciple, Veteran, and Master status, unlocking extra boosts for your character. There are more than enough skills to level up to keep you busy for dozens of hours if you’re to 100% the game!
Niffelheim is an interesting 2D survival game with lots of crafting from the supplies and items you collect. It’s definitely a more relaxing experience when compared to other survival games, and you’ll get to play it at your own pace. Going from mining to gathering supplies and chopping wood to upgrading all of the things in your workshop to be able to craft stronger equipment and weapons, more powerful potions, and cooking hearty meals that can help when you’re exploring four floors down inside of a dungeon, will be an addictive cycle on PlayStation 4.
This Niffelheim review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Ellada Games.