Platforms: PC/ Mac/ Linux
Developer: On The Level Game Studios
Genre: Sports/ First Person Action/ Third Person Puzzle/ Isometric Shooter/ Third Person Stealth
Platform Played: PC
Genre hybrids are becoming the norm nowadays. We’ve now got First-Person Shooter/ Role Playing Games, Real-time Strategy/ Third-Person Shooters, Massive Multiplayer Online Shooters, and many others that are constantly emerging. With that said, have you ever heard of a golf/ first-person action/ third-person puzzle/ top down lawn mower driver/ duck hunt emulator/ third-person stealth game? Well, in the case of The Curse of Nordic Cove, the results are not desirable.
From the get go I had a bad vibe about The Curse of Nordic Cove. The graphics reminded me of a slightly updated version of GTA 3 or GTA: San Andreas. All of the objects in the environment look blocky and most have lagged edges, and the character animations look like they come from the days of the original Xbox and PlayStation 2 (think black space between neck and body when the head moves in a certain direction). Furthermore, the constant fog that is present in levels is most likely there to keep the draw distance low. The game often feels slow and chuggy, even on a medium to high rig like mine. What’s worse are the constant flashes of lightning. The game is supposed to have an eerie feel to it, but all the lightning achieved was giving me a massive headache- something I have never received from playing a video game. I physically could not play the game in sittings of over an hour, which is an extremely short session for most gamers.
Graphics are not the only problem with The Curse of Nordic Cove. The developers have tried to create an interesting game with lots of genres crammed into one package, but the pacing is way off. The gameplay varies from being slow and boring to broken and then back to slow and boring. It is definitely not fun to have to solve a puzzle that requires you to walk up and down a long pathway with no sprint button at least three times. Nor is it fun to drive a lawnmower from an isometric view when the steering does not work properly and the lawnmower constantly gets stuck on objects and in ditches. Moreover, it doesn’t help when the respawn point is directly on top of an enemy spawn point, which causes the lawnmower to flip and get destroyed every time. And don’t even get me started on the final boss fight. For a game advertised as a rougelike, the final boss may have been one of the easiest bosses I have ever beaten. Ever. On the flip side, I don’t know if any game has ever had a golf ball gun as a weapon; the limited ammo means the fun does not last long.
In particular, the golf gameplay chapter showed some promise. The golf controls were quite basic and killing monsters on the way to hit your ball was tedious because of the combat mechanics. However, if the golf was polished and made more challenging, and the combat was improved, I can see the potential for a fun multiplayer golf game.
Each chapter has its own genre and new controls, which are not explained at all. The idea of a roguelike game is that it is hard. However, even games like Dark Souls and Rogue Legacy provide an explanation of the controls before sending the player off into the world. The Curse of Nordic Cove‘s explanation consists of a quick screen of text that pops up at the start of each new chapter and barely explains anything. And once that screen of text is gone, sorry you are on your own. The downside to this is that by the time you figure out how to play properly, the chapter is over and new gameplay and controls are introduced.
The Curse of Nordic Cove is described as a survival horror game. Usually, this entails some creepy music and jump scares. The music was not creepy, and jump scares can’t occur when the enemies make a noise- read ‘vacuum cleaner’- when they appear. I can only remember having one jump out of your chair moment during my whole three to four hours with the game. It occurred in a maze where a poorly animated werewolf was standing around a corner. It got my heart racing for a few seconds, but, if you were somehow still planning to play this game, it is a bit of a let down for survival horror fans.
The premise of The Curse of Nordic Cove is interesting. An archaeologist and his female assistant uncover some old ruins on a golf course and accidentally awaken a curse that makes monsters appear on the golf course. While the story could have provided some wacky, funny moments, none of the characters are that likeable or relatable, and I was already in a bad mood because of the poor gameplay to be interested in the story. Not to mention that one of the main characters, Paulie Chops, has a tendency to drop the F bomb every few sentences or so. I’ve no problem with it, but it does get rather repetitive after a while. Perhaps the story could have stood out if it wasn’t being used to break up the tedious gameplay.
If there is anything positive to take out of The Curse of Nordic Cove, it’s that there are developers out there willing to try something new. The idea of mashing a wide variety of genres into one game is an interesting premise, but in this case it has not paid off. A curse is not the only reason you want to avoid Nordic Cove.
+ Interesting Idea
- Dated graphics
- Only game that has ever given me a headache after such a short period
- Slow and/ or broken gameplay