When I was smacking my head against the desk as another batch of citizens died in Banished, I could not have guessed that the survival city builder would prove to be such a resilient and fruitful subgenre, but now it's inescapable. What a wonderful time to love misery and slogging away in the cold. Vikings knew a thing or two about that, and you'll be able to put their survival skills (and yours) to the test in Land of the Vikings (opens in new tab).
Iceberg Interactive and developer Laps Games are showing off the new city builder at Gamescom and have released an announcement trailer to whet your appetite for longships, longhouses and long beards. You don't need to be in Cologne to check it out, mind. The Steam demo is up now (opens in new tab), letting you start your own Viking village.
As you might be used to if you've dabbled with survival city builders, you'll have to start by harvesting the basic essentials, hunting game, fishing, chopping down trees, to eventually grow a sustainable village and, beyond that, a thriving city. The demo map is a handsome place, plonking the start of a village—a few houses and a carpentry workshop—down in a picturesque bay surrounded by reassuring, snow-capped mountains. I almost felt bad when my citizens started chopping down trees, despoiling the beautiful spot. But they need all the resources they can get their hands on.
Shitty weather, naturally, will be a constant threat, with storms, freezing temperatures and earthquakes trying to destroy your settlement. And then there are more mundane but equally troublesome crises to worry about, like running out of food and firewood. You can get a hand from your neighbours, however, by trading with them, sending villagers off in a longship to make new friends and maybe some gold. Or you can be a bit more direct, raiding villages for fame and fortune.
Your villagers are individuals with their own luck, strength, speed and intellect stats, as well as traits that enhance them. One my villagers, Ljot Adilssdottir, was a quarrelsome beefcake of a women and mother of four who loved to argue and work out. It looks like there are still kinks to be worked out, however, because as well as being strong and muscular, she was also apparently "unusually scrawny". Some people are just so indecisive.
The survival city builder space is pretty crowded at the moment, and Land of the Vikings isn't even the only Viking-themed city builder around—there's also Frozenheim (opens in new tab) and the bluntly-named Viking City Builder (opens in new tab). That's good news for us, though, as we've got plenty of choice when it comes to picking our next survival destination.