Frozenheim is a real-time strategy game in the Viking age in early access.
Build, Conquer, Thrive, Explore and Survive. These five words describe Frozenheim pretty good actually. If you played an RTS game before, you will feel right at home and you should because the tutorial.. could be improved a bit – to say it nicely.
But as I said, if you played an RTS (for example Age of Empires) before, you will get it fast. Build houses to get new workers, a lumberjack hut to gather wood, a fisherman’s hut to gather food, and so on. There are also several other buildings aside from gathering resources. The training hall, the elder’s hall, a temple, a watchtower, a weaponsmith.. to name a few.
The training hall will let you train different kinds of warriors. Similar games in the genre have several buildings for different warriors to train – in Frozenheim there is just one building for all of them (just six as of now).
You’re also able to build two different boats. A small one for just one unit and a big one for up to four units. With these, you can sail to new lands. On the big boat, enemies can enter and battle your Vikings but there are no battles on the open sea.
In the elder’s hall, you can invent new technologies (It’s like a small skill tree).
You can also build palisades and gates all around your village. This is actually very easy to do and not like in some other RTS games (It can be a pain in the ass in some IMO).
Different weather conditions change how your folks live and work. Some buildings don’t produce in the winter, your warriors are slower and your workers need more time to gather resources, are unhappier in general, need more food, etc. There is also rain, storm, and sun. All of them affect your folks differently.
On the map are different friends and foes waiting for you. Wild animals will attack you as well as robbers. Some people will need your help or give you something in exchange for resources. You can also conquer lost places and gather resources there or find shrines to upgrade your folks in the temple.
Frozenheim looks gorgeous. It is just beautiful, especially when a storm is raging or snow is falling. Thanks to the photo mode you can capture these beautiful moments in a picture. Your warriors walking around looks nice and everything is very detailed. It’s just fun to observe your folks working.
Let’s talk more about the tutorial. It is boring really. Text boxes will explain the basics. While doing your first mission, your goals support you in learning the game first and a few things don’t get explained properly.
One time I build a windmill and put workers in there but they never did anything (which I did not know at that time). In another session, I build another windmill and somehow clicked on a symbol popping up when clicking on the windmill. Suddenly, I was able to draw a line, and another one and another one. Then I got it. I told my workers were the field to grow wheat should be. Then they were finally able to work.
To explain further: If you build a lumberjack hut to gather wood, the first thing you do is put workers in there. They will automatically gather wood nearby. If all trees are gone, a symbol next to the hut pops up telling you there is no more wood left. You then have to manually set a new area where they gather wood and this is pretty self-explanatory. Usually, a symbol will pop up next to the building if your workers don’t work or if you did not put workers in the building but not with the windmill.
Another negative thing is the content. There are just two missions in the game right now, four maps and everything else is missing some depth. The skill tree doesn’t offer that much, there are just six units, not even 20 buildings and fights are kinda slow. While the skill tree lets you specify your folks a bit, the game is missing different nations, races, or whatever you want to call them. Events on the map are also repetitive. There are just two or three different ones.
Aside from missions, there is a free-play mode (It’s endless basically) and skirmish. A multiplayer mode is also in the game. You can play online as a host, via LAN, or on dedicated servers (It’s greyed-out atm. I don’t know when this will launch).
There are also design choices (?) I can’t understand. For example, your warriors won’t attack nearby buildings of enemies when you put them in the middle of the enemies’ village. They will attack enemies when nearby or get attacked but that’s it. You have to click on every building manually to let them attack it. Even when enemies within a watchtower attack your warriors, they will just stand there and don’t move.
And there’s more to it. Units get stuck all the time, the game doesn’t auto-save and it will crash sometimes. If you’re playing 2v2, you can’t see your friend’s village on the map nor see what he does. The game doesn’t even tell you where he exactly is or that you’re a team at all. You can’t attack him though. If you alt+tab out of the game, the screen gets.. weird. You can’t play anymore and need to restart. I tried to take a screenshot through steam but everything looks normal in it. I think it has something to do with my drivers but this did not happen in other games yet so I can’t say for sure.
Aside from crashing, I did not experience any performance-related issues. Quite the contrary, the loading times are super fast, even on my laptop which I didn’t expect at all. It takes not even 10 seconds to load the map.
Frozenheim offers a beautiful looking real-time strategy experience. It has its flaws for sure and it’s missing a lot of depth as well as content right now but I still enjoyed every minute of playing the game. It looks and feels high-quality for an indie game in early access. While 16,99€ seems a bit too high considering all the negatives, I can’t ignore all the fun I had with it and as it is an early access game still in development and the devs don’t have a negative track record, I will give them the benefit of the doubt.
If you’re into real-time strategy games and looking for something a bit more relaxing in the genre while still having to fight, this one is for you!