Frozenheim PC Review

Frozenheim juggles between RTS and city builder but fails to blend them thoroughly.

By Fragnarok, Posted 27 Jun 2022

Frozenheim is a real-time combat-focused simulation game developed by Paranoid Interactive and published by Hyperstrange. Players lead a band of Vikings, establishing a settlement that needs to be self-sufficient. This includes a steady supply of food, crafting materials, and eventually a strong army to defend and attack rival factions.

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There are two modes available in Frozenheim, “campaign” and “custom”. Each stage of the campaign starts players with a certain pool of units, buildings, and key objectives. This may include destroying an enemy fort, surviving a long winter, or building certain communities. Once a stage is cleared, the current area is abandoned, and a new location and tribe are introduced. Players can choose their overall goal in a custom game: destroy enemy bases, pure survival, or a peaceful construction mode. Any map from the entire world can also be selected, giving resource advantages for goods like wood, fish, or animals.

Houses are the backbone of Frozenheim, as it determines the maximum amount of citizens that can come to a settlement. From there, players will need to keep everyone fed. Fishing huts make up a slow and steady amount of food but are only accessible from rivers and lakes. Farms constantly provide food during 3/4ths of the year, but production halts every winter. Hunting is another main option but requires wild animals to be in the area; poor hunting grounds will result in no food.

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From there, a few essential resources are used. Wood cut from nearby trees is used for most building construction. Stone is used for higher-end buildings and supplying initial troops. Steel is a later game material for siege weaponry. Bog iron, animal skins, and clothes are used for broader economies, either in domestic market places or trading with other Vikings.

Building placement is important, as each worker must move supplies from their business to the Jarl’s Homestead community building. This can create a lull in the supply chain, as the correct total amount of goods are not counted while being gathered or in transit. Players can deploy a banner to switch the gathering radius if a production building is too far from natural resources. This reallocation is often needed, as it is very easy to overwork on a patch of land beyond sustainability. Additionally, some buildings gain bonuses from being within the radius of another building type.

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This all helps fuel the ongoing war machine. Citizens can be recruited and changed into a number of different soldiers with strengths and penalties. These include well-rounded Axemen, ranged Archers, speedy Scouts, defensive Shield Bearers, and Spearmen that can stun enemies. Another main component is boat warfare, allowing the use of boats and large ships to control the region. Unfortunately, most ships lack ranged weapons, and if an archer is not onboard, both vessels will need to align with each other to allow melee attacks awkwardly.

When players are ready to destroy rival Norsemen, siege weapons like catapults will be needed. These hit very hard but are slow to move and reload, making it essential to set them up in key locations and defend them with a vanguard of Shield Bearers. When a Jarl’s Homestead is sacked, all other buildings will instantly be destroyed, making it typically better to focus on that. The only time going after another building makes sense is if one may need to retreat and wants to hamper the enemy.

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Eventually, players can build an Elder’s Hall to choose a clan and technology path. The Crows move faster, spot secrets on the map, and gain limited magical powers. Deer have increases in food, happiness, and combat bonuses within the controlled territory. Bears have more substantial buildings and siege weapons and can make weapons without resources. And last, Wolves train stronger units, remove debuffs upon killing and can heal in hostile lands.

Even with so many choices, it becomes clear Frozenheim has a very particular build order to avoid economic or military collapse. Wood, in particular, can be incredibly sparse since it is used in most item construction, and its supply is much more limited. Forgoing key buildings or a healthy resource ecosystem can soon lead to downfall. This is further exasperated by the lack of warning messages or clear warnings on the HUD. If an attack happens, it simply shows up as a red mark on the mini-map without clarifying what said the problem is. This can lead to lots of bouncing worldwide, especially once players have expanded to several outposts and islands.

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Both the campaign and many of the custom maps emphasize exploration. Most of the world is hidden in the fog of war, and enemy patrols and wild animals may be prowling around. The beaten bath could contain artifacts, extra supplies, or just a good new location to start building. In some other cases, there will be guard towers that can be opened via trading - through it is strange that attacking them outright is not an option. Oddly, the fog of war is cleared only by combat units, but this does not prevent players from putting their gathering banners deep within it. This results in workers diving into the great unknown and possibly coming back with wood and stone.

Frozenheim runs remarkably smoothly on high settings. Animations are fluid with quick load times and no signs of lag, even when moving the camera quickly. But this is due mainly to how zoomed out the default camera is. When coming in closer, it becomes apparent that this outstanding performance is achieved by the low poly count models with shoddy animations. In general, the various warrior classes look rather bizarre and alien than an accurate depiction of Vikings.

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Overall, the two aspects of combat and city building seem to clash against one another. This is partially due to the real-time gameplay and the overall imbalanced economy. Players will either find themselves only gaining enough supplies for their war effort - akin to RTS games like Warcraft - or having a stable society that doesn’t go out and conquer. But, those that like this oil and water non-mix will have great fun with Frozenheim.

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed

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General Information



Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Hyperstrange
Developer(s): Paranoid Interactive
Genres: Real-Time Strategy
Themes: Simulation, City Builder, Vikings, Norse
Release Date: 2022-06-16

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