On paper, Fimbul sounds perfect. It’s a hack N slash game set in the frozen North and centred around Norse mythology. In addition, the story itself is told via comic book panels and for the most part, all of this works well.
Overall though, it’s a little hit-and-miss in terms of quality, which has a solid impact on the overall experience of the game.
You play as Kveldulver, which is admittedly a pretty metal name, initially murdered by his brother at the start of the game.
Kveldulver has risen from the dead in order to save the world; after exacting a little revenge, of course. You venture from place to place, looting items from fallen enemies and solving fairly basic puzzles.
The loot mechanic is interesting. Like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, weapons and armour take damage, so you need to be collecting weapons as you move about the levels. However, it has no impact, as there are really only three weapons you can pick up; a sword, an axe, or a lance.
There are no weapons (that I’ve found) that have any different stats, so it really just comes down to finding the weapon type you like best and picking it up whenever you need to. A mechanic with no actual impact on gameplay (apart from being a nuisance) is somewhat unnecessary.
So Metal, But Not Metal Enough
The battle mechanics are enjoyable, though, if a little simple. You have a heavy and light attack, and a dodge roll, plus you learn some special support abilities over the course of the game. These include a healing banner that you can drop on demand and takedown abilities that can end a fight with a single button press.
At first, it’s very fun, purely for its simplicity. However, it tends to pale after a while. Even battles in which you fight towering trolls and giants feel the same after a while. Throw a spear to hit a tender spot, then smash them in the skull when they fall.
Most disappointingly though, is the lack of polish.
In some areas, the potential is vast. Bright, mountainous vistas line the background and the character models themselves are nicely animated.
The surrounding environments though? Low detail jaggies and popups galore. Plus, the more enemies on the screen (especially if they are of the giant variety) and the game screeches to a shuddering halt.
Further, the use of comic book panels, while certainly a fun choice, feels out of place in Fimbul. The lack of voice acting and the strange use of sound just makes a lot of the storytelling – in comic panels or not – lack impact and for the most part, fail to impart interest.
Perhaps the most interesting idea that is deployed in the game is the story arc mechanic. You can choose to view the timeline and return to missions and in the process make different decisions and take a different path.
While this does open up the game to some form of replayability, sadly, the game itself does not lend to any desire to do so. And when we did try a different tactic? It felt as if it had no impact on the story at all.
Fimbul, at its core, is a mildly fun hack N slash title. If you just want to hit some dudes with swords for a little while, it will certainly scratch that itch but there are many titles that do it better.
Throw terrible performance — at least on Switch — and the lack of polish on top and what is clearly a labour of love for the developers sadly lacks the intended impact on the player.
Fimbul was reviewed on Switch using a digital code provided by the developer.
Game Title: Fimbul