Frozenheim Review – Furious Fjordic Management

Grab an axe, jump aboard the longboat, and prepare to cut through the other clans as we take to the frozen fjords of Viking strategy, Frozenheim.

Released just last month and already available on PC, via Steam, Frozenheim is the work of Paranoid Interactive and publisher Hyperstrange. Setting the stage for the rise of your Viking clan, this new strategic adventure poses as a colony builder, but I rather like to think of I as a more traditional RTS. Taking a top-down approach and pushing players into leading a disheveled clan of Norse warriors, Frozenheim asks player to explore a range of settings, build, manage, and expand their settlement until they are the only clan left standing. Getting started on this road to victory isn’t exactly a trial by fire, thankfully. While you can j ump straight into online multiplayer and battle it out, working out how to survive the winter the hard way, the on board tutorial is a fantastic pre cursor to the game’s campaign mode and aids as a solid start to Nordic navigation, resource management, and troop deployment. Like any good Real Time Strategy, Frozenheim is based around a collect and craft gameplay loop. You’ll be expected to gather resources from across unexplored maps, build structures, and churn out a range of offensive troops to destroy anything that the world throws at you.


frozenheim villiage



While this does come packaged with a variety of different objectives, discoverable side quests, and exploration ideas, the core of this title doesn’t stray too far from classic Command & Conquer mechanics. A core building menu is strewn across the bottom of the screen, with a small but useful set of structures on offer, with a range of resources scattered across the top of the screen. It’s all straightforward with click to build and drag to select being almost second nature to anybody who has played any RTS. The first few structures that are introduced in Frozenheim will make up the core of any base in this building strategy. A central outpost makes up the pillar of any Viking community. This sprawls out with a click and drop construction sim to add houses, forestry huts, stone cutting, hunting lodges, and more Iron Age appropriate huts. While construction orders are just a click and place action, Frozenheim does begin to add in at least a few twists to the Middle Age tank rush. Resources aren’t as flexible as good ‘ol Tiberium. Instead, you’ll need to house workers, recruit them to be your soldiers, assign some locals to gather food for the camps, hunt animal hides, collect stone, log forests, and smelt metal. These are just a few of the pliable resources that mean Frozenheim is at least a little bit Frostpunk.


frozenheim a village in winter



Much like the rest of the RTS and colony building genres, Frozenheim’s graphics have moved on significantly from the early days of pixel powered tanks and 8-bit G.I’s. Instead Frozenheim plays out over a varied topology intertwining lush forest, towering mountains, frozen wastelands, and winding rivers. There are a huge variety of play spaces to do battle on, and what makes these unique is that they’re more than just a series of hilltops and artificial barriers. The surrounding environment plays at least some part in combat. Troops can be hidden between thick shrubbery, while a change of season brings a decidedly more difficult trudge through the open snowfall. Taking a view from on high like some sort of ominous Nordic deity, Frozenheim gives a useful view of the action, but there’s plenty of preparation before unsheathing and blades. The final form of the warriors on offer are largely defined by the resources at hand, and the support systems that allow clan leaders to outfit townsfolk turned warriors. Early on, it is clear that building a Bloomery and refining metals is vital if you’re looking to craft the rivets and axe edges that are the cutting edge of any raiding party.


frozenheim tech tree



To stumble into the Iron Age, you’ll need to house enough townsfolk to gather the raw materials, create a place to base those socialized workers, bult a Bloomery , staff the smelter, and ensure that there’s enough food to keep everyone from starving. This spins off an entirely different sort of battle. Not only do these basic survival systems mean you’ll need to offset your expenditure and balance a budget, but nature is out to get you too. Winter makes everything intolerable when it comes around. Food seems scarcer, certain agriculture buildings shut down, and a hunger mechanics makes troops decidedly ineffective in battle. This other battlefront might not be bloody, but it is just as deadly as an opponent’s arrow.

This isn’t the only way Frozenheim tries to stand out from the crowd. While you’re battling to stay alive, the in game tech tree’s do at least allow clans some customized perks. Weaponsmithing huts, for example, provide a great range of armor and attack upgrades for boots on the ground. For anybody staying back at camp, they’ll notice the effect of a building progression system that rewards players who manage not to have their homestead burned down almost immediately. This even expands into mysticism, with temples, buffs, and a clan bonus system that allows players to specialize in construction, troop battles, or other systems that lean into all-out attack or more progressive build and conquer strategies. This all combines with a solid, if not massively deep range of units, buildings and factories to get the job done. In general, Frozenheim manages to touch briefly on survival sim concepts, without overthinking things and bamboozling players. A delicate mix of decisions intertwine traditional strategy with this survival game to makes this title far more interesting than it might be if the focus was more singular.

This, however, means that Frozenheim doesn’t always feel entirely refined. While the day/night and seasonal cycle looks fantastic, graphics can feel lack luster compared to the flashy entrance of a big budget Warhammer or Ancestor’s Legacy. The survival sim side of things might not have quite the in depth resource management that some are looking for and combat can end up feeling somewhat straightforward. While troops do have a special battle abilities and stances for extra flexibility, tactical options are still limited. With so few types of troops available, some time could have been spent on adding better way pointing, formation systems, or a decent counter balance to the end game siege weaponry. Yes, catapults are cool. By the time you are wielding them, enemies are likely to have little chance to really push you back. An omission of cavalry, as far as we could tell, feels like a missed opportunity to really change the pace of a game. this couples with friendly fire that seems to do no damage, to make combat  feel  less nuanced than it really should.

These issues barely even touch on some of the very manual control systems used for troop deployment and the hit or miss mechanics of attacking enemy troops. Frozenheim has a huge amount going for it and manages to touch on a number of ideas that do, largely, work. It just needs a little more time to the in game combat, but there is a great game in out there  on the open plains just waiting for Odin’s blessing.

  • Realistic resource management
  • Wide variety of options
  • Easy to understand systems
  • Troop control is unrefined
  • Some tactics feel far more useful than others
  • Some systems exist but feel ineffectual
Written by
For those of you who I’ve not met yet, my name is Ed. After an early indoctrination into PC gaming, years adrift on the unwashed internet, running a successful guild, and testing video games, I turned my hand to writing about them. Now, you will find me squawking across a multitude of sites and even getting to play games now and then

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