Frozen Hearth? More like frozen desktop!
With your expectations suitably lowered, I will begin.
Seriously though, I want to start by making it pretty clear. This is the worst game I’ve ever reviewed for this site. It fails completely and in almost every possible manner. It’s about as entertaining and intuitive as life as a medieval peasant, with just as much senseless, thoughtless and fucking inexplicable death. Not in game, I mean. There’s no fucking challenge to be had here, even on “hard” difficulty.
I got bored pretty regularly, which is always a bad sign in an entertainment product. One mission that stood out as a roving bastion of tedium was of the base defence ilk, a kind of “defend this hut for ten minutes while ice beasts try and overwhelm you” thing and, frankly, it was a feat of almost supernatural endurance that I played as long as I did – which was two minutes. At that point I had pretty much decided how tense and interesting this game was going to be, gathered all my units in the one place all the enemies seemed to be running through, and alt-tabbed the fuck out of there. I watched some you-tube videos, listened to Nekrogoblikon. for a bit, and then, when I’d remembered what I was supposed to be doing, Alt-tabbed back. I was greeted by triumphant drums and a big ole “you are victorious” screen. Which tells you all you need to know, really.
At this point, I might seem a bit of a dick. “Luke, you otherwise glorious avatar of literary genius” I blushingly imagine you saying, “How can you expect to like a game if you won’t give it a chance?”
It’s not a bad question, I agree, and I gave this disaster a chance. I let it into my home, onto precious gigabytes of my computer’s hard drive, and I will eternally regret it. It’s like inviting a surly uncle to sleep on your couch after his wife kicks him out, only to discover he’s been cleaning his piles with your toothbrush.
I trusted you Harold, you duplicitous prick.
I’ve never played a game before, certainly not one like this, that fought me so hard and so tediously to get me to stop. I love RTS as a genre, one of my favourite experiences is playing Age of Empires 2 late into the night, LAN style, when I was 15 years old… but this absolute bullshit?
If anyone’s played the excellent Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of war 2 it’s basically that strategy system, with a single upgradable base and a bunch of satellite recourse stations that you send your guys to collect. Then you build a bunch of spear ladies and bowmen and send them in a big clump. There’s a bit of interest to be had in customising your base to get the best possible upgrades for your style, but as I might have mentioned, dudeclump works every time, so why bother?
I should point out I played this bastard for hours. I ploughed a long, long way into the campaign before I realised It wasn’t ever going to get interesting, and then restarted it on the higher difficulty. It was then that I won a match while alt-tabbed, and from then on I just couldn’t bring myself to give a shit. I’d tell you what the plot is about, but beyond the “you’re some kind of club-wielding giant who, for some unaccountable reason, can throw fireballs” It’s precisely as generic as you might think. A new mechanic, specifically ice moving about, does get introduced in the late game, but by then my ability to give a fuck was long atrophied. It barely stirs anything up.
It’s also about as stable as a one legged drugged up Viking. On stilts. Seriously, over the course of a week it crashed more often than I intentionally shut it down. Which might, with a weird kind of backwards logic, be its one saving grace. It’s kind of like being cut off by a friendly barman when you’ve had enough. Except he’s serving you mug after mug of steaming piss, so maybe not all that friendly after all.
Maybe I should give Epiphany games some slack though. As far as I can tell, they’re fairly new to PC gaming. On the other hand, of course, their website tells me they’re developing an MMORGP set in the same locale, and considering that the grand fields of PC gaming are currently littered with the corpses of a thousand dead MMO’s, maybe the kindest thing I can do is be as cruel as possible.
After-all, if this is flagship franchise, it’s pretty clear they don’t have a fucking clue what they’re doing.
Developer: Epiphany Games
Publisher: Immanitas Entertainment
Released: December 19th 2013
Score: 2/9 Hammers