A journey into the blistering winter of Fimbul

Posted on March 14, 2019

Fimbul is an action adventure title that recently released onto multiple platforms, exploring the stories and mythology of a unique Norse world. The game combines intriguing storytelling techniques with isometric action gameplay as you fight your way through a frozen world in the peak of a blistering winter.

It’s the storytelling aspects that work best in Fimbul, with characters coming to life in a comic book style. Narrative drives the game and those who love their Norse mythology will find a lot of familiar and engaging concepts here. The game takes place in a particularly cruel winter preceding Ragnarok where you fight off vikings, trolls and more. Whilst the game stays true to Norse lore, there’s a distinct lack of focus on Norse gods, allowing Fimbul to tell its own story rather than sticking too closely to those narratives told before.

Whilst the narrative is certainly serviceable, it’s the comic book style with which the narrative unfolds that is the highlight of the game for me. The game manages to imbue so much personality, so much character, and so much charm in these static image panels – it’s very commendable. The art certainly helps a lot here.

Unfortunately where the game falls short is in many aspects of its gameplay. It’s frustrating because Fimbul clearly had some good ideas. Combat takes place in an isometric, hack n’ slash style. You have a sword and shield available allowing you to block, heavy attack, light attack, and dodge out of the way. Spears can be thrown and there are even special finishers that will see you decapitate your enemy after you build up some meter. Alternatively, if you need some health, you can spend your meter to drop a banner that will heal you over time if you’re nearby.

The game has good ideas that if implemented well would have created an interesting and dynamic combat system. Unfortunately Fimbul has a serious lack of polish that turns these good ideas into something tedious to engage with. Combat feels clunky and unresponsive. I never felt completely in control and wasn’t able to utilise all of the tools at my disposal efficiently. It was difficult to react to enemy attack patterns too, which meant I was more likely to spam attacks rather than battle intelligently.

Framerate is an issue with the game struggling to keep up with the action on-screen. The camera struggles too, often losing sight behind environmental objects and failing to properly keep your character in frame. Boss battles were slow and often boring, and also suffered from the same combat issues I pointed out before. I also got stuck too many times, with the game struggling to telegraph where it wanted you to head to next. This is an issue that comes down to environmental design choices and, once again, camera issues.

To be honest I could continue listing issues but it all ultimately comes down to a lack of polish or experience. Fimbul feels like it needed more development time, more playtesting, and continued updates to get the game into a more playable and enjoyable state. It’s a shame because there are some genuinely good ideas here, and storytelling that I found absolutely engrossing. However, Fimbul in its current state is a game I wouldn’t be able to recommend to potential players.

Fimbul is available now on PC, Switch, Xbox One, and PS4.