Game development is a complex process that takes time, dedication, skill, and maybe even a little madness. Above all, it is a process that can rarely be carried out in complete solitude. Sometimes, however, like Song of Iron, it happens. The Resting Relic development "team" is in fact composed solely of Joe Winter who, over two years, has developed a side-scrolling action adventure inspired by Limbo and INSIDE. This time, however, everything is set in the Norse world.
Let's find out in ours Song of Iron review if Winter's efforts have paid off.
An open plot
Song of Iron is a tale of vengeance and justice in the Norse world, between foggy woods and humid caves. As a warrior or a female warrior (we can choose the genre, but the appearance is fixed), we must avenge our people, who have perished under the attack of a rival tribe. Only we have survived and, following the will of a loved one, we travel to the top of a mountain to win the favor of the gods and their strength in battle.
Impossible to tell you more than that, also because Song of Iron, in his three hours of adventure, aims to tell us a seemingly very simple and linear story, consisting of only a handful of dialogues, in the middle of a long sequence of gameplay without pauses. We say "apparently" because, in the final phase, the adventure subverts everything and reserves a rather unexpected surprise. We do not want to spoil and it is therefore difficult to discuss the idea of Winter: we are sure that for some it will be too casual and sudden, while others will be happy to discover that in Song of Iron there is something more than it initially seemed.
From our point of view, the idea is well executed (there is a bit of foreshadowing, which will prompt you to say "ah, that's what it was!") And it's quite interesting. The truth, however, is that we are more intrigued by what could happen in a sequel than by what we discover in Song of Iron. In fact, the game ends with a "To be continued". The strong impression is that both has at the end of the title is that Song of Iron is only a" part 1 "of a story that we do not yet know: positive for the future of this potential saga, but negative for the player who risks. live the whole adventure as a simple appetizer. At a price of 19,99 euros and for only three hours of gameplay (which as we will see do not allow particular replayability), many may want to wait for a discount or even the arrival of the sequel.
Obviously Song of Iron is not just a plot, on the contrary, it is above all gameplay. Winter has packaged a very straightforward side-scrolling action game based on combat and a bit of platforming. Our character is equipped with a weapon - like an ax or a sword -, a shield and a bow and arrow. The range of moves includes a combo of quick shots, a loaded shot, a kick to knock down enemies, the launch of the weapon with which to kill most of the opponents in one shot, directional arrow shots, a parry, a shot of shield down and a roll, able to pass through enemies.
The opponents range from human to goblin, with a few more monstrosities in between. The main differences are the size and power of the shots, but overall the tactics to defeat them it is more or less always the same: initially it is better to dodge the enemies with the roll and eliminate them with a throw of the weapon, and then retrieve it and launch it again against another enemy. Opponents are quite aggressive, but they often use charged shots or get stuck in one spot to perform a combo, so dodging and catching them with the shield down isn't hard.
In the advanced stages, however, we find ourselves simply attacking with our heads down, especially against groups of enemies (just keep them all on one side and they will block each other creating a row in front of us). The difference is dictated by upgrades that we will get. Song of Iron, step by step, makes us recover a series of pieces of armor infused with the power of the gods. For example, we will be able to set fire to our weapon, to inflict more damage, or run faster and perform longer jumps.
Thanks to the upgrades and a little attention it is very difficult to be defeated in battle, also because the life points are constantly recharged (even during clashes). You need to pay more attention to stamina, especially if you tend to dodge a lot. The true combat system problem it is, however, that it lacks a twist that makes it particular or even just a technical minimum: the addition of a parry, for example, could have made close combat more relevant and would have created a classic risk / reward mechanic that, instead, is missing . Most of the time we will not care what the enemy is about to do, we will simply charge each other enough to defeat him by sheer brute force, attacking repeatedly, or we will throw the weapon for an instant victory.
Platform and exploration
Song of Iron, as mentioned, also offers a bit of platform, and this is where you will notice the influence from Limbo. In addition to having to move some crates to create a passage and be able to climb into a new area, we will often have to overcome sections full of swinging traps that will take us out in one fell swoop. These are platform phases in which we will have to find the right rhythm and the correct movement in order not to be torn apart, with even a little trial & error. Some traps are deliberately hidden and we won't notice them until the last second: luckily the checkpoints are well placed in these stages, so you will never have to repeat long sections.
The pure platform phases tend to be concentrated in specific areas, which break the rhythm between one combat section and another. The initial stages are very linear, a corridor that runs from left to right, with no distractions or secondary paths. Advancing, however, the game also proposes open areas, with multiple paths - all mandatory - to explore to activate runestones that act as a "key" for the next step, which protects a new piece of armor and its upgrade.
Song of Iron tries to vary its structure as much as possible, so as not to bore the player: it also helps that the longevity is not high. To keep us glued to the screen, however, will be above all the atmosphere of the Norse world designed by Winter. Though far removed from the mythical and glitzy imagery created by Santa Monica with God of War, Song of Iron's forests, caves and mountain passages are impressive, with highly detailed backdrops and close-ups. Considering that it is the work of only one person, there is a remarkable care and attention to detail: we suggest to all players who undertake this journey to look often at the landscapes and not think only of running towards the next enemy. The sound component also helps make our journey epic, with a high quality OST.
CommentTested version PC Windows Digital Delivery Steam Buy it here at Resources4Gaming.com
Song of Iron is a linear adventure, with a functional but not very technical and never deeply satisfying combat system. In a mix of combat, exploration and platforming, we arrive towards the end of the game fearing that we have already seen everything and having to prepare ourselves for a low-impact ending, but the plot subverts everything and drags us up to a "To be continued" that bodes well for a potential follow-up. Also for this reason, the three hours of gameplay offered by Song of Iron risk seeming more like an appetizer than a main course. The atmosphere is great though, and if you fancy a light and enjoyable trip to the Norse world, you should keep an eye on this game.
- Great atmosphere
- The plot holds an interesting surprise
- A little short
- Fights never deeply satisfying