Roguelikes and rogue-lites seem to dominate my time as a reviewer. It’s to the point where nearly half the games that come to us are Rogue-something in some way or another. You have to do something original or extremely impressive to stand out in a subgenre that is getting increasingly crowded. “Nordic-inspired sci-fi” is a good way to do that—and honestly, that alone was enough to get me excited for this game.
Gunnhildr is a rogue-lite first person shooter set in a sci-fi world based on Niflheim from Norse mythology. You play as Gunnhildr, a warrior who was labelled a traitor and imprisoned. As Gunnhildr, you’re forced to fight your way through dynamically generated levels, gunning down hordes of enemies while collecting new guns and power-ups. It’s fast-paced, and full of foes—and death can come swiftly to those who are careless. And while death ends your run, you’ll have a chance to spend a mineral called Halite on permanent upgrades to make the next run that much easier. Halite is a powerful substance that powers the technology of Niflheim, as well as your own abilities. You can shoot the crystal outcrops that contain it, or harvest it from your fallen enemies as you slay them in battle.
Mechanically, Gunnhildr reminds me a bit of Destiny with a bit of Halo thrown in. There are grenades that work on a cooldown, rather than have a set amount of capacity. Weapons very much resemble those you can find in Destiny, where the most common, cannon-fodder enemies you’ll encounter have a heavy grunt vibe from Halo. Even the melee looks and feels like the Warlock’s from Destiny. It’s not stated explicitly anywhere I can see, but developer RatDog Games seems to have taken heavy inspiration from Bungie’s titles. That’s definitely not a bad thing.
Gunnhildr has a fair amount of lore, but instead of frontloading it in a starting cutscene, or having massive lore dumps in interstitials, Lucky tells you all about the game’s world and gives context to your actions. Lucky is mostly just a voice in your ear that sometimes offers advice—and sometimes gives snarky responses to what you’re encountering in-game. He’s like a soothing voice in your head that stops talking when the action gets heavy.
Still in Early Access, Gunnhildr feels incomplete. There aren’t many guns to acquire as of yet—with only a small handful of archetypes available. There is only one level to play through as of right now, with one end boss. It can take less than an hour to experience the whole thing. According to the Early Access page on Steam, the developer plans on adding more of everything: weapons, power-ups, levels, etc. Gunnhildr is slated for full release sometime in 2021. The Early Access information doesn’t specify how big the final product will be.
Right now, Gunnhildr is brimming with potential. The gameplay is fast, and fun enough, but I’d love to see more weapon variety. The first level is interesting, though despite its Nordic inspiration, it doesn’t really scream “Nordic” to me. Gunnhildr is worth checking out in its Early Access form—but if you want more content, you’ll have to wait for further development.
Gunnhildr is available now on Steam Early Access.
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