Bierzerkers is a game that says it in the title. It is a game all about Vikings, warriors and the endless river of beer they drink while they run about Valhalla and cause shenanigans. As the breakthrough game for Shield Break Studios, Bierzerkers takes on a Hearthstone meets Team Fortress style of arena combat and art to bring an interesting experience to players.
Let’s discuss the frost giant in the room; this game is hilarious. Not in a “so bad, it’s good” way, mind, but in a way that shows the developers were having a ton of fun while they tested it. Bierzerkers never takes itself seriously and contains a general atmosphere and style really brings that Team Fortress 2 feel of cartoonish violence. There’s just something especially hysterical about a Valkyrie smashing into a bunch of bots named Jorgen, Sven and other cliché Nordic names while said bots run towards the player while doing a fine rendition of the “rabble rabble rabble!” chant from South Park. In that regard, the game is immediately enticing. Newcomers will more than likely step in with little idea of what to expect and be welcomed with a horde of grumbling Svens, scattered beer and general mirth.
Another welcoming feature is the gameplay itself. There are no finicky controls, complicated attacks, or inventory to learn. Everything is designed to be simple so that players can jump right into the fray; the intuitive level design, the characters, the attacks, and the placement of the beers to help you regain your health if you get Sven’d too much. The currently available characters are divided into three groups: offence, defence and support. Simple, right? Nice, streamlined and familiar for fans of arena combat. Being thorough, the boasted partial controller support was tested as well and, in spite of our own abilities, PUG can offer an arthritic, shaky thumbs up. It plays as nice as the keyboard, though full controller support would be nice to see in the future.
Speaking of the gameplay, the controls are spot on. Characters react quickly, move with an appropriate weight for their build and girth, and never get jammed up behind a camera that’s fallen and can’t get up. The only thing that does seem a little off is the jumping. Any weight to the characters seems to vanish while jumping and they all ascend as though they are graceful angels practicing ballet. In a silly game that takes place in the Norse afterlife, though, this is merely a nitpick and players who find themselves accidentally leaping off a ledge may grow to appreciate it.
Despite the simple nature of the gameplay, a sense of strategy should not be forgotten amidst the brawl. Players who fancy well put together teams, vantage points and class-advantages will still be able to enjoy using their enormous brains just as much as the people who run in with an incoherent battle cry will enjoy the fast-paced action. It’s hard to tell if any singular character is over-powered from an early look. After testing each one, all of them had their advantages and disadvantages which seemed appropriately balanced.
In terms of playable characters, every single one of them had a voice that cracked me up. I’m not even certain what style of comedy the humor falls into in Bierzerkers – mad and silly for the sake of being mad and silly, much like Team Fortress 2. Someone blows up, no one notices while Sven dances on their corpse, and then they materialize back. In a nutshell, there is much fun to be had here.
Hearthstone was mentioned earlier. While the genres are not really comparable here, Bierzerkers does seem to follow the sort of art style that many might associate with Hearthstone. It shows some very bright, vibrant colors that seep into every aspect of the game. It is a nice, cartoony style that can easily fail when used wrong. However, this game uses it to highlight the silly humor and overall feel of the combat. Everything is just over the top, and it feels like acting out Ragnarok with action figures, just hitting that giddy child inside players right in the nostalgia. The sound is right up there as well in terms of background music, voice acting and presence. It is very crisp and matches the Norse theme of Bierzerkers. The voice acting, again, is hysterically funny. The fact that they didn’t catch anyone laughing in the background is astounding.
Bierzerkers boasts some features that will be coming along later, as well. Two more mystery characters, and a shop that appears to follow the sort of micro-transaction logic of Path of Exile. How you feel about that is up to you, with more weapons, levels and modes heading the way of release day and later patches. The concept is basic, simple, much like the game itself.
Overall, Bierzerkers is solid. I daresay that it, despite its gruff Norse theme, is cute. Yeah, I’ll stick with that; Bierzerkers is cute without being pandering or annoying. It’s constructed well, it looks nice and it kept me laughing while I shot arrows into a Sven-horde. For fans of arena combat who are looking for some solid multi-player, good humour and fast action, I’d say give Bierzerkers a shot. At minimum, you’ll get a laugh or two and some fun memories of butt-smashing friends with a singing Valkyrie.
Humorous and action-packed
Let’s not go to Valhalla, 'tis a silly place.