The Great Whale Road – Preview
Follow Genre: RPG, Strategy, Simulation
Developer: Sunburned Games
Publisher: Sunburned Games
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

The Great Whale Road – Preview

Good: Very beautiful, great atmosphere, a lot of potential
Bad: Still a long way to go
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(2 votes)
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

It’s the Dark Ages and you have just been crowned Jarl of your humble Viking settlement. Leaving your villagers with their orders for the summer, it’s time. Summon your warband, ready the ship and bring glory to your people as you sail out to explore The Great Whale Road.maxresdefaultThe main storyline involves going to avenge your Jarl, who has seemingly been murdered by Saxons. You take up the mantle of Jarl and must lead your settlement to glory whilst tracking down your predecessor’s murderers and making them pay for what they have done. Currently you can embark on several adventures on the main quest, but the story isn’t yet completed. The 2nd half of the adventure is due to be released soon, as well as playable storylines for other civilizations: Northumbrians, Franks and Picts.

As you travel you will also hear rumours from spending time in taverns which will eventually unlock new areas for you to visit and investigate. Currently however it doesn’t seem to give you the option to go hunting for these strange myths and stories when the death of the previous Jarl is still hanging over you.20160812181936_1Graphically The Great Whale Road is extremely beautiful. The hand-drawn look, with painstakingly created realistic environments and buildings, does wonders for creating a captivating atmosphere for the game. Likewise, the character design is incredible and the art style really helps to bring everything to life. It allows you to get to know your character and warband intimately whilst it transports you to Dark Ages, ready to lead your very own Viking horde.

The game also has a good soundtrack that fits the period. It has enough variety for the time being, but hopefully it is something that they will add to during development, as the game grows. The sound effects are likewise well thought out and work well. Something that is most apparent during combat.20160812181801_1The Whale Road is a RPG strategy/simulator which is an interesting mix. The reason for this is that the game switches gamestyles significantly according to the seasons. During the winter the title is purely a simulator where you must rule the settlement and deal with your citizens problems, such as settling fights between neighbours or dealing with natural disasters and plagues.

Winter is also where you make your plans for the coming year. This is accomplished by putting points into different areas of your settlement, such as focusing on agriculture to increase your food production, or training more men to increase the defence of the town and protect it from raiders. At the moment, you are better off focusing on food production as some of the other areas, such as diplomacy, do not yet seem to do much for you. Something that I am sure will be fleshed out in upcoming updates. Currently you are unable to build new buildings or manage any individual areas of the town, something that I hope will be addressed in the future. It is much more rewarding for the player to be able to see the settlement grow around them as they progress.

When summer comes the game changes drastically as the RPG elements come into play and you must gather your warband and head out to sea to complete quests. You can buy new weapons and armour for yourself and your warriors on your travels, as well as buying various luxury trade goods such as amber, dyes and pelts to take back to your settlement.20160812182010_1As you travel you will trigger various events, such as attacks from pirates or discovering an apparently unguarded merchant vessel, and must make choices on how to react. Your warband will often provide you with advice that matches their personalities, so don’t be surprised if the bloodthirsty ones advise you to murder everyone and everything that crosses your pass. You and your men have three main stats; health, endurance and morale, and how you react these events will impact upon them. Doing strenuous activities such as rowing will lower endurance, getting hurt obviously lowers health, and shaming yourself or losing battles will lower morale.

Eventually, no matter how good you are at outsmarting your enemies, you will find yourself in combat. Fighting battles in The Great Whale Road is very interesting due to the turn-based, card using battle system. Having said this however, it still has a long way to come. Each of your warband has a class such as Assault, Heavy or Support, which affects their stats as well as what cards are made available to you during combat.20160812182916_1You can move and attack, or defend, once each turn with each character under your control. You start with just your character facing off with the leader of the enemy on an empty field, and the rules are simple: Whoevers leader dies, loses. Nothing else matters. You also draw some cards and may discard any number of them back into your deck to draw back the same number next turn. You can bring members of your warband onto the field by drawing their card and playing it.

The combat appears very difficult at first, but once you get the hang of things it is probably a little too easy. (Unless you are unlucky and constantly get dealt high level cards you cannot use, whilst your opponent populates the field with a never ending stream of soldiers.) Your biggest pet peeve may come from the fact that currently, you are unable to change which cards are in your deck. You can choose your warband and see which cards each character brings, but they are mostly all the same. Nor can you choose your own characters cards.20160812182927_1Conclusion

When it comes to Early Access games, you need to decide whether you’re buying into the games potential, and the ability to potentially influence the games development, or whether you are simply buying the current build of the game, with no expectations for the future. This is really important because some games never end up leaving early access, whilst others would never be half as good as they are without the support of early adopters and their input to the developers.

The Great Whale Road has a ton of potential, you can already see the bones of a great game emerging, but with this being such an early build of the game, there isn’t a huge amount of content there yet. So if you are someone who expects their Early Access games to be nearly complete, with just a little tinkering left, you may want to wait a while. If, however you love the concept and would like to support the developers and help to influence the way the rest of the title is designed, then you should offer a quick prayer to Thor and dust off your horned helmet as you load up Steam to pick this up.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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The Great Whale Road - Preview, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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