Fimbul’s titular winter should be familiar to those who played last year’s God of War. This bleak period of harsh snows and constant conflict provides the backdrop for the game’s tale of vengeance and redemption. Playing as Kveldulver, an elder berserker, you are tasked with venturing to Jötunheim to confront the ancient race of giants who dwell there and prevent Ragnarok.
Kveldulver’s folkloric tale is effectively and creatively told through comic-book panels. These panels strike a distinct tone with their use of period language while remaining concise to ensure you are never kept out of gameplay for too long. While I find the sketchy art style used in these panels a little ugly, the game’s overall art style is strong and distinctive, successfully balancing minimalism and atmosphere.
This minimalism extends to the game’s kinetic, visceral combat. Light and heavy attacks build a combo meter while rolls and blocks allow you to evade and deflect blows. Special moves which let you restore health, execute enemies or aid you in crowd control are unlocked as you progress, making you feel increasingly powerful while remaining relative to the challenge of combat.
While easily accessible, this simple combat system is deceptively tactical, with the timing of each block and blow essential to success. However, the handful of boss battles you encounter fail to test your combat prowess and rather have you rinse and repeat the same strategy until you fell your foe. These battles, although visually impressive, also highlight some of the game’s technical flaws, with some clunky animations, poor hit-detection and frame rate issues hindering the experience.
Fimbul’s roughly four-hour story is well paced, striking a rhythm between storytelling, light exploration and combat. Your path through Midgard and the land of the Jötun beyond is relatively linear, yet elegant environmental design directs your journey organically, never feeling claustrophobic or restrictive. Narrative choices also diversify this linearity, with moral decisions to kill or spare chosen foes having an effect on the events of the late game, giving you a sense of agency as you carve your own path through the world. The Life Thread, a timeline of each scene, allows you to revisit decisions to explore their tangential paths.
While the minimalism of the narrative limits Kveldulver and co to being rather enigmatic characters, the twists and turns that befall you on your journey are impactful and affecting. A few brief flashbacks have you play Kveldulver as a young boy, introducing some light stealth mechanics while fleshing out his past with the Jötun. Fimbul harnesses its influences to great effect, and its story feels authentic, as if pulled from the annals of myth.
The frigid Norse lands of Fimbul is the game’s strongest character. A tilt-shift quality to the elevated camera gives a dream-like quality to the game. The blueish hues and golden light of this boreal landscape, backed by a hypnotic, rhythmic soundtrack of war drums, icy strings and deep bellowing chanted vocals conjure a captivating, strangely serene atmosphere.
Fimbul’s strong storytelling and rich atmosphere make this journey through the Norse realms compelling. Despite technical issues, an inconsistent art style and poorly designed boss battles, this world often looks gorgeous and its simple, yet tactical combat is consistently satisfying.
Fimbul PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.5/10
Fimbul’s rich atmosphere and gorgeous Norse setting make this adventure thoroughly compelling. Strong storytelling bring Kveldulver’s tale to life while visceral, tactical combat make carving your path through this world satisfying and kinetic.
- A well told folk tale with player choice
- Gorgeous environmental design and rich atmosphere
- Satisfyingly simple yet tactical combat
- Rinse and repeat boss battles
- Some technical/performance issues
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
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