F*ck, F*ck, F*ck, F*cking F*ck. (Direct quote.)
If you came up to me and told me about a game that started off as a hybrid between a golf simulator and a first-person shooter where you blast scythe-wielding ghosts with a potato gun, I’d give you two thumbs up because that’s exactly the kind of stupid I want to see in my indie games. So, I can honestly say that I went into The Curse of Nordic Cove with the best of intentions. With the game being described as “Absolutely ridiculous” and “a game that throws away the rulebook and prioritizes sheer insanity over and above super-polished graphics or deep emotional storytelling,” I was certainly expecting something interesting. Sadly, those quotes are true, for better or for worse. Mostly for worse.
Aspiring Jack of All Trades
The big thing about Curse of Nordic Cove is that every single chapter changes the gameplay mechanics drastically. What some would describe as a “jack of all trades but the ace of none” scenario. The game doesn’t take more than a couple hours to finish and is comprised of seven chapters featuring gameplay ranging from solving picture puzzles to driving lawn mowers to cutting down werewolves with a chainsaw in a dungeon. Mixing up how the game is played every twenty minutes or so keeps things fresh.
A for Effort
As I said earlier, the game starts off as some sort of weird mix between a first-person shooter and a game of golf. This, along with the second chapter’s puzzle aspects, is probably about the best that The Curse of Nordic Cove gets, sadly. The story centers around – you guessed it – a curse that’s befallen a golf course and ruined the main protagonist’s date night with his girl. The tale continues on to “rescue the girl and solve the mystery.”
The actual gameplay as the game starts is pretty straightforward; you play a simple game of golf, but you have to physically run to wherever your ball landed, battling enemies along the way. The golf aspect functions, which is good. The combat? Significantly less so. The biggest challenge I had with the combat was actually managing to kill the enemies before they fell through the ground and bugged the game out. The puzzle chapter is comprised of pretty straightforward third-person controls where you move things around and play picture-matching games in a cave. I can only explain the chapters after this with addled groans and an aching neck.
Feels About as Solid as a Pre-Alpha Build of a Tech Demo
To say The Curse of Nordic Cove is dodgy would be an incredible understatement. Almost every factor of every facet of the game feels loose, ugly, and sometimes unplayable. The game is riddled with more bugs than I’ve seen in a very long time and there were multiple moments when I had flashbacks to watching footage of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. Thankfully, CoNC isn’t quite that bad. It’s a functional game half the time and you may even get a few moments of enjoyment scattered around between those crippling bugs, ugly-as-sin visuals, and asinine comments, storyline, and personalities of the cast.
Quantity Over Quality
Instead of simply being a quirkily dodgy FPS/golf sim hybrid, The Curse of Nordic Cove isn’t the bottom of the barrel, but the bottom of seven different barrels. The game really does have potential. It’s a neat idea to switch gameplay mechanics as you go from chapter to chapter but, if fitting more styles in takes priority over making them actually work, nobody wins.
The Curse of Nordic Cove is interesting. It’s also lacking love and care on a biblical scale. I’m not usually so direct about this sort of thing but there really can’t be any miscommunication on the matter. I really do look forward to what On This Level Studios can do in the future. Shoot, maybe even patch up CoNC and it could be a really fun experience. But, until that day, I certainly won’t be looking back. I advise you to do the same.