Dead in Vinland

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Dead in Vinland Game Poster Image
Great Viking tale of perseverance, survival; mild violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Each decision has consequences, results in either morale of survivors increasing or decreasing. Challenges players to create a cohesive community with defined goals while limiting discontent among members. Deals with surviving, forging bonds against overwhelming odds.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Various characters, particularly in main family, have positive individual character strengths, but player can affect whether their future actions are viewed positively or negatively. Personal decisions can affect morale, relationships with other characters.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, short learning curve to manage characters, resource screens. Multiple difficulty levels to fit player skill, turn-based strategy tests planning, tactical abilities. There's one unwinnable fight, but its purpose is to drive the storyline forward.

Violence

Combat shows still images of characters using variety of weapons (axes, swords, bows, shields, magic) to inflict damage. Quick splash of blood shown for hits. Defeated characters disappear from screen. 

Sex

A reference to procreation and how women can continue family line early on, but nothing shown, focused on in play.

Language

"Bastard," "asses" used in text-driven chat.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mead is available as drink, offering restorative properties, bringing comfort to characters. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dead in Vinland is a downloadable survival time-management game with role-playing game elements and strategic turn-based combat. Battles are conducted with still images of weapons or magic used to inflict damage on enemies. While there are splashes of blood to indicate a successful hit, combat isn't gory; enemies disappear once they're defeated from the screen. A fleeting reference is made about procreation and continuing the family line, but nothing is shown or dwelled upon during gameplay. The words "bastard" and "asses" are used in dialogue. Mead is used to bring comfort to characters and heal injuries. Multiple difficulty levels, along with a tutorial, reduce frustration of learning the basics of play, although managing resources can be a challenge.

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What's it about?

In DEAD IN VINLAND, Eirik and his family have been forced to flee a band of marauders, stealing a ship to make their getaway. After being tossed about on the ocean, this small Viking family (Eirik, his wife, his daughter, and his wife's sister) find themselves stranded on an uncharted island. They find a cave and begin to settle in, being forced to scavenge and rebuild their lives. They soon discover that the island isn't deserted, and the other people on the island will either become friends or foes. As their community grows, so does the need to manage and create more resources. Dead in Vinland jumps across a variety of gaming spectrums, from survival and resource management to role-playing and turn-based combat. It features three difficulty settings, nonlinear storylines, and player choices in dialogues that can affect the morale of your growing (or shrinking) community.

Is it any good?

This Viking survival game provides addicting play thanks to its balance of resource management and role-playing game elements and its interesting tale. Dead in Vinland is really like a civilization simulator in a dangerous land on an extremely personal level. Characters can learn new combat and resource skills or uncover new areas to explore. There are even people to recruit to become part of the community, if you say the right things; otherwise, you may make new enemies that constantly threaten you. It sounds like it would be confusing, but the gameplay works: You care about getting these characters to survive in their exile, to forge new friendships, and to survive incoming attacks. If there are any drawbacks to Dead in Vinland, they come with the pacing. It starts slowly and seems almost on the verge of lulling players to sleep with its gentle pacing and musical score, then suddenly jumps forward and displays an urgency that's compelling.

Also, dialogue choices don't cover all options and can seem pointed to drive the story in a certain direction, like fights, or certain characters that will be unhappy regardless of what you try to do. Finally, segments of the resource gathering can feel repetitive, but the impact of bad decisions can sometimes feel too intense. For example, mismanage your resources, and characters can die quickly. At least the cartoonlike visuals are bright and work very well, which keeps bringing you back into playing for a few more minutes to see how your characters and community will fare based on your decisions. But it's the balancing of the combat, the character interaction, and the resource management that's really Dead in Vinland's biggest selling point, and it gives players so much to do that it can sneak up on you and draw you into its story. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the violence in Dead in Vinland acceptable because very little gore is shown as a result of battles? Or is it problematic because combat is even included?

  • Talk about what it means to survive. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you do first? What items would you like to have and what would be most valuable to have?

  • Discuss screen time limits and limits on other things like television. What does the younger player consider to be appropriate? What other things can they be doing to improve the quality of their lives both physically and mentally?

Game details

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