What happens when you mix ideas from Castle Crashers with Vikings? You get the beat-em-up Viking Squad.
Full of constant action and fun visuals, Viking Squad is fun to play. The problem comes when repetitive gameplay and rouge-like elements are what prevent you from progressing. It then feels more like a chore and less of an adventure.
The game’s premise is pretty simple; as a Viking, raid through the levels of the land to find and collect as much treasure as you can for your Viking clan. You use a variety of both light and heavy attacks depending which one of the four classes you choose from. Each of the classes has a slightly different weight and feel to them, but I often found that there was nothing pulling me to choose one over the other. Each character has their own leveling system and campaign save, so when I was leveling up one character, shifting to another would have me back at square one. This is good for replay value, but not very welcoming in trying to beat the first time through.
While only really encouraged to play the game with one character, I have to say Viking Squad has a fantastic and fun leveling and progression system. As you progress through a world map of levels, you are given the option to continue to the next level with the treasure you’ve earned. The trick is, when you die, you lose all of the treasure you have gathered. If you succeed in finishing the level and instead decide to take your spoils to the Viking clan, you can use the treasure and coins you have gathered to upgrade perks and armor. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.
I like the risk-reward ratio that this mechanic has to offer. Unfortunately, when you hit a wall of not being able to earn enough treasure to progress without being trampled on, you find yourself going back to older levels to grind for treasure just to progress to the last level. While there are a few paths that you can take in the older levels to earn different rewards, they are few and far between. I found myself replaying the same levels I had beaten multiple times just to slightly increase a perk for the possibility of being able to further progress. More often than not, the slight upgrade was not enough and I had to resort to playing more of the levels I previously grinded in to actually progress .
One thing I think Viking Squad should absolutely be commended for is its boss battles. The way the enemies are designed almost give off an action based puzzle. Weak points, timing, and keeping track of patterns, I often wondered how much the thought and care went into these sections. The bosses are near equivalents to bosses from The Legend of Zelda series; encouraging you to find weak spots and stay alive while working to defeat them.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing Viking Squad despite the repetitive nature of the leveling system. The cute and charming style this game has is pleasing to look at and the combat and boss battles are well designed, but the repetitive nature of the game left something to be desired.