Dead in Vinland was released on PC in 2018 by Ishtar Games (published by Dear Villagers) and it is a follow up to the game Dead in Bermuda which had very similar gameplay mechanics with a very different setting.
Dead in Vinland is a turn based resource/management survival simulator that were all the rage a couple of years ago... well, all the rage for me at least! The basic concept for most of these games are that you are shipwrecked/abandoned/isolated in an apocalyptic or survival setting and you do your best to survive as long as possible with the meagre resources and the characters that you have at your disposal.
Where Dead in Vinland throws in a bit of a curve into the mix is with the relationships between the various characters and adding in a more involved story element for each character and the overarching plot. So, more towards the Zafehouse style of survival games rather than the RimWorld or Project Zomboid styles.
Well... survival type games are my favourite, and especially those with some sort of group management and base building added in, so let's see how this game stacks up!
Like most of the games of this genre, you are a family of Vikings who are shipwrecked on a deserted island. The game world has some low levels of magic, so it is a touch like our Earthly historical Vikings that set out to the New World but with a bit of a twist.
Your family is pretty dysfunction, consisting of a husband and wife, an aunt and a rebellious teenage daughter. Perhaps it is the recent shipwrecking, but all of them are pretty cranky at each other... although, I would probably say that that has more to do with the way that they have all kept significant secrets from each other! Those were always going to cause problems in a regular situation and the marooning was only a little bit of a catalyst!
It turns out that there is another group of raiders that have previously landed on this island... and very soon after you make landfall, they start muscling up and demanding a weekly tribute. Sigh, no Utopia for this group of misfits!
Your goal is to keep everyone alive and spilling out their secrets... although, it can be surprisingly difficult to do either of those until you have failed at least a few times to get an idea for the actual gameplay mechanics which can be quite punishing!
The main part of the game is played out in base management. Each day is split into two parts (Morning and Afternoon) in which each character in your party can perform a single base action. The tasks vary from gathering food, preparing food, harvesting materials and crafting new components.
The primary raw resources that you will be juggling will be the firewood, fresh water and dirty water. These will be the input materials to craft better components and to upgrade your camp.... and of course, to keep your characters alive!
Each character has a certain affinity for different types of tasks. A better affinity will result in a better outcome for the task, as well as a smaller increase in character fatigue and stress. However, apart from the opening few days, you are going to start finding that not everyone can work in their optimal jobs at all times... especially when injuries start piling up!
After the two action turns, there is a night turn where all the results from traits, and temporary bonuses will take their toll (or boost) a character. It is the moment that you will choose who and what to feed... This can be a really tough choice at times, and you are going to have to really juggle who you want to be in better condition for the next day... or if you really can spend that extra day to actually cook that raw meat!
Ailments come thick and fast until you get a bit of a good set up going. Injuries from combat, disease and food poisoning and the inevitable bickering all serve to drain your characters in this stage if you aren't careful! So, make sure that they have enough of the survival stats to make it through the night!
So, speaking of survival stats... Dead in Vinland has a five stats for each character to juggle or they will pass away in a gruesome fashion. Most of the time, you will want to keep these in the green... but it isn't a perfect world, and there will be many times when you are going to have to let these slip in to the yellow or the dangerous red zones. Even worse, the more these primary attributes deteriorate, the more your innate skills suffer with a negative debuff! So, you can see how this could end up in a nasty spiral...
... and innate skills! These are the skills that you will be using to test your outcomes against the tasks and events that come your way during the day. Buff them up and try to concentrate and specialise! Most of the time, they will be not at optimal condition due to the fact that your characters will be suffering from debuffs from the primary attributes!
If that wasn't enough to deal with, each character comes with an array of positive and negative traits. Some of these traits are permanent or are part of a character's backstory, whilst others are temporary due to sickness or injuries. Very rarely, if you are really lucky you will get a little positive buff!
Finally, there are the combat related skills. These are the various options that will be open for your character to use during the turn-based combat sections. Unfortunately, these are locked and there is no way to affect the skills on offer here.
It is impossible to stay in the base camp and survive longer than a tribute or two. At some point you will need to venture out into the island and explore the various events and locations... and risk getting into a fight!
All the events are text-based choices. At some point during the text section, you will be presented with a choice to test a particular skill. Anyone in your whole party can take a crack at the event, and the bonuses and consequences of the event will be borne by them. Sadly, at this point you are seriously at the mercy of the RNG... the consequences are really quite severe. Save scumming won't help you much as you will need to start at the start of the day... and that gets annoying really fast! So, roll the dice and eat the consequences! It's part of the fun!
... because sometimes you get lucky!
In your travelling party, you can take three characters with you only. Sometimes you will hit a random fight (or a story scripted one) and this is pretty bad news. Most of the time in the early game, you can quite easily take on the enemy without too much problem. However, as the game progresses, you will start to fear these encounters as injured characters require lots of resources to bring back to health and they are completely out of action as far as most of the camp tasks are concerned.
However, in the beginning, these fights are a cheap and easy source of materials!
As each character levels up (through combat or tasks), they will get the option of choosing a new trait. Some of these are quite incremental, and others are highly specialised... whilst even more are really too general! It is a really tough choice, and sometimes I wonder if the list itself is randomly generated as well! Often, I would have a couple of the choices being quite terrible for the character build!
Along the way, you will meet other fellow stranded travellers who have somehow been marooned on this same island and haven't yet been slaughtered by the raiders. Each of these characters are weird and quite temperamental to fit into an existing group... but you need the extra hands, perhaps not the extra mouths.
Each comes with an interesting backstory and will have unique interactions with your family and other discovered characters. It really is a nice touch to have the NPCs that join your party to ahve such fleshed out interactions!
However, you will hit a party limit... which I wasn't that fond of! I wanted to recruit everyone!
So, the big elephant in the room is the RNG. The nicest way of putting this is that the RNG is nasty... it is random, but in a game where even the smallest setback can start spiralling out of control, well it starts to be annoying after a while!
Thankfully, the developers did listen to feedback and have added different options for the RNG to make it a little less random and to give a bit more weight to the skills of the characters.
Visuals, Sound and Performance
The game is pretty low on requirements, and it ran on my XPS15 with no problem. The textures are static and there is very little in the way of animation in most of the scenes. Computation wise, this is a turn based management, so there are very little in the ways of computation demand on the processor. I wouldn't be surprised if this could run on phones or tablets.
Music... after a while, you will turn off the music. It is nice at the start... but it is the same for the whole game! ARRRRRRGH!
I'm a bit mixed about Dead in Vinland. I like the marooned concept, and I don't mind the turn based management system. However, the game doesn't have much depth in mechanics, and doesn't have much replayability after you discover the storyline. Add to this the sudden push from the raiders to ramp up difficulty and the severe consequences of the RNG events... and this starts to go from fun to quite frustrating very quickly! So, I would say... this is definitely a game for those with a severe amount of grit!
In my opinion, there are many games do a similar take, but with deeper detail such as RimWorld, Oxygen Not Included or Project Zomboid that I have connected with in a better way. The consequences of failure in these games isn't a death spiral, but a manageable chaos... and they have less reliance on a fickle RNG.
DELL XPS15 (9560)
RAM: 16 GB
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1050
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