Expeditions: Viking

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Expeditions: Viking Game Poster Image
Mature, violent tale focuses on choices for Viking clan.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

No overtly positive, negative messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Player chooses whether to pursue a more violent, diplomatic course. Every decision, action has consequences that may create new enemies or allies. 

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn. Several difficulty levels to suit gameplay.

Violence

Features blood, gore, with characters being impaled by pikes, arrows, suffering lethal blows with sword, ax. Characters may use a knife to repeatedly stab a fallen foe. You can see action up close, zoom out. The blood is not excessive, but the details in the killing blows may be a bit much for younger players.

Sex
Language

Frequent use of "s--t," mainly in text dialogue.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Game settings include bars; nonplayable characters can be drunk, out of control. References to nonplayable characters being drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Expeditions: Viking is a downloadable point-and-click role-playing adventure. There's frequent use of profanity, as well as blood and gore. The title also focuses on the choices you make, with consequences resulting either immediately or at a later time. The dialogue leads to options, which will affect the tone of your leadership. If you take a hard-line path (a violent, kill-everything path), you may lose followers or create allies who are of a similar mind. You can also, occasionally, pick up on sympathies that may result in smiths creating better weaponry or armor for you or your party members. Alcohol is frequently shown, with characters drinking, acting intoxicated, and getting out of control.

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What's it about?

In EXPEDITIONS: VIKING, the old chieftain has died and left you to fill his shoes as the new thane of the clan. What will you choose: to rule by the sword, arrow, or ax or to use the tools of diplomacy and trade to advance your clan's fortunes? Expeditions: Viking is a turn-based, role-playing game that brings to life the old Norse lifestyle, complete with interclan squabbles and the ability to choose the path you wish to take. Text-driven dialogue gives the player several choices that drive the tone of the type of leadership role taken, and each choice has consequences. For example, kill a wounded enemy and you may lose allies who view you as too vicious; spare that same fallen enemy and you may be viewed as too soft. Of course, you may gain new allies to add to your party of warriors with either decision, and villagers may rally around you (or snub you) and help create new weapons or armor to improve your war party. Players can create their own Viking chieftain at the launch screen and allocate points to different stats, skills, and abilities that will define the type of character you are in this world. Players can choose to raid or trade, choose war or politics, and pick their own alliances from the Norsemen, Picts, and Angles. This game is big on story but pays attention to the details and creates diversity through its depth.  

Is it any good?

Rich storytelling and a robust party-driven, old-school RPG with turn-based combat gives this game luster and excitement. Expeditions: Viking harkens back to the good old days of gaming when players could waste hours playing Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, or Neverwinter Nights. Of course, this is a more modern development, but that sense of grand adventure is present. Players have the ability to make decisions that shape their clan and open up (or close) new avenues of adventure. The game has a solid storyline, enough difficulty levels to appeal to every level of experience, and graphics that carry the theme and spark the imagination. Players should be aware that there are no visible options to tone down the violence or temper the language to create an atmosphere for younger players. The bloody death blows -- which aren't overdone but rather are appropriate for the weapons used to deliver the final blows -- and the use of expletives drive home the game's setting and feel. 

The audio plays second fiddle to the graphics, but it's decent. This is really more of a text-driven game, with players receiving several choices as responses. You can also save at any point, making it possible to revisit and make different decisions. One thing that players do need to keep an eye on is what weaponry to take into battle. There seems to be a random bug that cancels weapons and has the controlled character marching into battle trying to use fists against opponents' weapons. Checking out armaments in the inventory, upgrading as needed, and playing to character archetypes prior to engaging in battle does help lessen the frequency of this minor flaw. There's a lot to be said for picking the right weapon to go into battle with; for example, taking a bow into a solo battle against a warrior with a sword and shield reduces the chances of winning by a lot. Overall, Expeditions: Viking is a terrific find that's rife with options, customization abilities, and a great deal of fun. This is an easy recommendation. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. Is the violence in this game OK because it's representative of the culture and times of the Vikings, or is it over the top and unjustifiable? Is this culturally presented violence more or less brutal than our modern-day society's?

  • Discuss the role of diplomacy and how diplomacy might work in your life. Can you come up with situations where diplomacy may have achieved a different or better outcome for a tense situation?

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