Although released in 2017, The Frostrune, feels like it could have been released at any point in the last 20 years. This first-person adventure title doesn’t do anything particularly innovative in terms of gameplay, but the traditional Norse setting and attention to detail helps make it distinct from many other similar games.
Beginning with a shipwreck, you take on the role of the sole survivor who find themselves washed up on a deserted island. It soon becomes clear it’s only recently deserted as you quickly discover an abandoned village and the bodies of several warriors, with sporadic patches of an unnatural frost. So begins a quest to uncover what happened here through a combination of hidden object finding, puzzle-solving and combining various items.
The world of The Frostrune is spread across several screens each of which is beautifully presented in a painted style. However aside from some basic wind and water effects, they are all fairly static and have no transitional animations. It also doesn’t help that despite the low number of locations, the various huts and forest trails aren’t that distinct from each other. It’s hard to escape the feeling this is a game better-suited to mobile devices (an iOS version is available as well).
I also found the hidden object side of the game to be slightly frustrating, and it wasn’t always clear which areas can be navigated to. Still, it’s very pleasant to look at and some variety is introduced once you are able to switch between the spirit and physical worlds. Much of the charm of the graphics comes from the detailed depictions of Norse writings, tools and buildings throughout The Frostrune. It gives the game a real feeling of authenticity (not that I’m in any way an expert though).
This dedication to the Norse setting extends to the audio side of the game. Although there isn’t the traditional adventure trope of long conversations with NPCs, there are several spirits who will talk to you on your journey, and they do so in ancient Norse. Subtitles are available in a variety of languages, and The Frostrune actually benefits from this as I doubt the vocals would have the same impact in English. There are also some hauntingly atmospheric songs at certain points, and although it’s not essential to have the sound turned on I would definitely recommend it.
Unfortunately while the overall atmosphere is fairly impressive, the actual progression of the story feels a bit disjointed and involving. Also, while none of the puzzles in the game are too obtuse it can be irritating when certain objects can’t be combined or used when it seems a sensible solution, as only the exact solution will be accepted. Despite this none of the puzzles or environments are particularly taxing, and if you do get into difficulties there’s a very unsubtle hint system.
The puzzles themselves are pleasingly satisfying though, requiring logic and attention in order to solve them. Combined with the authentic Norse setting they help ensure The Frostrune mostly succeeds as an enjoyable adventure game. Any fans of the genre should however be aware that there are only a few hours of gameplay though.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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