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Whoa: Northern Shadow Is Skyrim Meets A City Builder

You're not some omniscient city god, believe it or not. This is first-person view. Your character is looking at a little boardgame-style table on which you can select construction options. Then you go explore. Everything.

I do so love indie game development. One second I’m minding my own business, sipping coffee and wondering if trees dream, and the next I stumble across what may well be the next Skyrim, the next colossal, gorgeous first-person fantasy RPG bonanza. Northern Shadow, however, comes with a twist: it’s also a city builder ala Banished. You have a living world to both explore and build a kingdom in. My kingdom for this game. Trailer below. Watch it, because it’s crazy impressive.

Putting the city building menu in the game world? As a little map/board you look at in first-person? And then letting you see buildings you’ve selected rise from the Earth? Ingenious.

Northern Shadow begins with your kingdom (presumably in the north) falling at the hands of some unknown enemy. I’m assuming XCOM soldiers don’t exist in this universe, so it’s up to you to regroup, rebuild, and bring down the baddies.

This game, by conservative estimates, will be FULL OF THINGS. Here are the things:

Your kingdom, your people
Build and improve your own city. Communicate with other kingdoms, negotiate trade agreements and build alliances. Defend your city and your lands.

Classic RPG systems
In combat, depend on your own skills, rather than statistics on your character sheet. Use spells or weapons, you can play the game your way.

Living World
Living economy allows you to see the ripples of your own actions all around the world. Your steward will take care of your city while you are gone.

Explore
Discover worlds both above, and beneath the earth. Find precious mineral veins and other treasures.

I can dig it. Both on paper and in motion, this is an extremely exciting-looking game. Obviously if the world is overly generic or the ambitious fusion of mechanics ends up super clunky, then this one will crash and burn, but I have high hopes. The idea of an underground world, especially, strikes me as quite interesting. Here’s hoping it’s less Dragon Age II caves and more Arx Fatalis.

Northern Shadow will launch in early access alpha form this summer. Not sure how I feel about exploring this kind of world when it’s not complete, but I’m definitely interested in at least briefly checking it out. How about you?

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Nathan Grayson

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