‘Cycle of Tyrfing’ is a classic case of style over substance. At its heart it is a beautiful side-scrolling action platformer that; while its roots are to be found in Super Metroid’, tries to incorporate more modern ideas into the tried-and-tested “metroidvania” formula.
First impressions of the game are very favourable, the menu is well laid out and the music is suitably high-tempo and heavily inspired by Scandinavian metal; knowing that this game is based on Norse mythology makes it a fitting choice. The intro sequence is presented as a series of graphic novel style cells and it sets the tone excellently. This level of polish continues into the game art which has a hand-drawn look permeates through it and leads to some immensely detailed characters and backdrops. The presentation of the title is truly excellent.
Unfortunately, within a few minutes of gameplay the presentation is shown to be of a much higher standard than the actual game. The issues just pile up on the player and every one of them impacts on the game profoundly.
The first main issue is with the actual artwork of the game, the three-layer parallax scrolling means that, while the game is beautiful, it is incredibly difficult at times to know what is a platform and what is merely foreground dressing. This is especially unforgiveable when the action ramps up and you are looking for a way out of confrontation – this issue should not be present in 2016.
The second issue is that the game aims to be a precision platformer but it is fundamentally held back by its imprecise controls and floaty physics. Perhaps “floaty” is the wrong word, it is not “floaty”, rather everything in the world of ‘Tyrfing’ feels weightless – there is no consequence to anything you do. Jumping is an exercise in trial and error; I lost count of the times I tried to jump on a platform only to sail over it time and time again. This weightlessness is also present in combat, you will mash the button and see the action take place but you feel distant from it and in the end the experience is a hollow one.
When the above is paired with a control system that is unintuitive and suffers from a few milliseconds of input lag then you have a game that is almost unplayable at times. You will take damage, mistime jumps, blocks and evades almost every time because of the lag and it makes running through the levels a chore that, if I’m honest, isn’t worth the payoff.
There are moments of this game that the issues make it borderline unplayable and it’s a shame because there is a real gem of a game under these issues but in its current state I cannot recommend that you play it.
Overall ‘Cycle of Tyrfing’ has a lot of potential, the premise is excellent and so are the graphics. However there are many issues that hamper the player’s enjoyment of the game, the biggest being the terrible controls. It is in early access and this will only get better – not one to buy now, but definitely one to keep an eye on.