Northern Shadow is a citybuilding first-person RPG, and hot damn

I think I like the idea of citybuilding/management games more than the reality, which tends to involve adjusting values on spreadsheets and keeping up with ten stressful things at once. I don't know whether Northern Shadow will be any different, but I like the cut of its jib so far - after you've fiddled with your kingdom on a magnificent Ruse-style game board, you can head out into the world in a first-person stylee to do a Skyrim in the land you've helped create. My eyebrows are unfortunately lodged in my ceiling after watching the following trailer, so be sure to wear some manner of iconic baseball cap if you'd rather avoid a similar fate.

I mean, whaaaaaat? Obviously there are few caveats here: we can't get a real sense for either the couched-in-the-game-world cityplanning/building or the first-person, seemingly massively Skyrim-inspired roleplaying, but even if Northern Shadow ends up in a scrappier state than Banished/SimCity or Bethesda's open-world Vikings tie-in, there's something very exciting about the decision to mash the two genres together. The developers are promising "sandbox elements, and a classical RPG story", along with the ability to build and manage your own kingdom, and I imagine the decision to focus on text-only exposition will help them achieve that a little faster.

Here's a bit more, plundered from the game's Steam Greenlight page:

"You can only control your own character. Build your city by talking to your steward, or workers and selecting an appropriate lot from a miniature map. Protect your surrounding lands by ordering patrols and giving special missions to your troops. Troop effectiveness is determined by their training and weapons/armor quality.

"Your cities can produce different wares, which you can trade with other kingdoms if you wish, but you have to protect your roads and provide safe environment for traders first. Wage war or form alliances with other computer controlled kingdoms as you see fit."

Northern Shadow's set to launch on Early Access this summer, which I guess is kind of now? So expect it soon.

Tom Sykes

Tom loves exploring in games, whether it’s going the wrong way in a platformer or burgling an apartment in Deus Ex. His favourite game worlds—Stalker, Dark Souls, Thief—have an atmosphere you could wallop with a blackjack. He enjoys horror, adventure, puzzle games and RPGs, and played the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII with a translated script he printed off from the internet. Tom has been writing about free games for PC Gamer since 2012. If he were packing for a desert island, he’d take his giant Columbo boxset and a laptop stuffed with PuzzleScript games.