Fimbul is an indie game that takes place in the great winter before Ragnarok. Your battles and choices play a huge role in the events of The Fimbul Winter and you can perhaps even save the whole of Midgard.
Norse mythology has long been one of my favorite game settings and there have been some terrific takes on it lately. God of War did an especially magnificent job thrusting the player into the middle of Midgard with all sorts of Norse characters and elements and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice added an injection of mental illness and darkness into the formula which somehow made it feel even more real.
Fimbul is an original story that begins with an epic event: the destruction of Kveldulver's home and his subsequent murder by his brother, Knut. Instead of a game over screen, he's brought back to life and is then reminded of his quest: to guard and hide an artifact that could bring Ragnarok about sooner. Now that's secondary to your quest for revenge, of course; that jerk has to die!
Much like the fates that helped prevent your life string from being cut when your brother killed you, your life string now shows you the choices you made at various points. Better yet, you can choose any point to replay or rewatch any portion of the campaign or even go directly to a choice and make a different one. This will create a whole new string to play although I played through almost all of Act 1 with a pair of different choices and everything seemed to happen exactly the same. I can see where the differences will likely affect the ending but it's a shame that so many sequences are most likely identical up until then.
The vast majority of the campaign is spent running around and fighting. Combat is okay and is mostly a combination of button mashing and running away to heal. There's no difficulty setting and you don't level up, earn new equipment, or get money of any sort. As you progress, you learn a few new abilities based off your combo meter but I never really used any of them as rapidly mashing the square button handled most battles. Boss battles were similarly disappointing. Epic showdowns against Jotuns basically involved aiming spears and firing when their weak points were exposed. In fact, the combat is so annoying that I quickly grew sick of playing the same sequences a second time to see what exactly changed with different choices and there is no way I'd go over every possibility.
Running around is just as frustrating. You have no control over the camera and it often pulls back so far that it's hard to see where you are or where you're supposed to go. I got turned around repeatedly and was even stuck a couple of times when I ran behind a building assuming that's where I was supposed to go. This same issue crops up with combat, too, which results in boss fights being even more difficult. You also can't advance until combat is over and somehow, enemies seem to forget you exist if you go too far away. As a result, there were several times when I had to run all around looking for the last enemy to kill.
Other times, a temporary wall that halted me from leaving an area also prevented me from fighting the enemy as they were far past the other side of it. Worst of all was at the end of the campaign during one of the final fights. Basically, the first time, my ally (someone who I thought would wreck the enemies in a heartbeat) just stood there without helping at all until they died and the second time, they somehow knocked one of the enemies under the map thus requiring me to restart.
Fimbul's story is promising but I had a tough time following it. It's mostly about revenge then your journey to Jotunheim and very little is spent on the artifact or the events leading up to Ragnarok. I would've loved if Fimbul had at least twice as much story so that all of this would be much clearer or if there was an extras menu that included all of the comics that you've already seen. The comic style story is rather cool and the rough art style is fitting for the setting. Plus, having all of the speech as written text means that you can still get all of the info with the sound off. However, I would have liked some character development to deepen the story.
Overall, Fimbul is a mess. I wanted to like it due to its use of Norse mythology as it truly felt like a journey to Jotunheim, not just an action game with some Norse stuff thrown in but with combat that never felt satisfying, an annoying uncontrollable camera, a handful of glitches, and gameplay that I definitely don't want to dive back into, it's a hard game to recommend to anyone.
- + The life string is a great way to jump in anywhere and explore different choices
- + Story is told through nifty comics
- - Combat is glitchy and lacks complexity to the point where it's easy to exploit
- - Bosses are frustrating and repetitive
- - Story is convoluted