Iron Tides, a roguelike survival-strategy tactical RPG that puts you in charge of a Viking long ship, came out in Early Access on Steam yesterday. Now, I’m quite a big fan of vikings (on account of me being a really geeky Norse Pagan) so it definitely intrigued me. As such, I decided to give the game a go, and document my journey.

My adventure began as my ship survived out of a particularly nasty storm. It had been separated from the rest of the fleet, and needed to regroup with the survivors, if any. Cue my exploration through a rocky seascape, navigating through a grid-based traversal system. I was also low on supplies, and needed to find food before my crew starved, a possibility that moved closer with every square traveled.

I stumbled across a shipwreck: and while I found some sustenance for the ship’s crew, they also had to burn the bodies of the three viking bodies on-board, their throats slit. Likely by pirates, which put me on edge. I’d need to be careful…

Just my luck to run into a pirate ship around the corner, right in the middle of a narrow passage. And with no way of us avoiding a fight, we boarded their vessel and entered combat. I had control of the Hunter Freya and the Vanguard Fenrik. The ship, like the world, was grid-based, and myself and my pirate foes each had a turn to move Freya and Fenrik about the ship’s main deck and order them to attack.

Each of my viking warriors had abilities tied to their class, and then a unique ability that set them apart from other vikings like them. As a Vanguard, Fenrik could strike with his sword and use his Command ability to give other crew members extra Fury, used to make attacks. And Freya can shoot enemies at a distance with her bow, while darting around in battle to use her Bandage Wounds ability to heal the crew.

My crew successfully slew the pirates with little injury, and secured my ship some silverware and a cask of mead. Delicious!

I continued my journey with my crew’s newly-acquired loot and wounds, until I came upon another shipwreck. But rather than corpses and supplies, my crew found a survivor: a Valkyrie named Ingress. Wounded and alone, I decided to let her join my crew. She’d be useful, and extra company never hurts.

Ingrid’s ship was attacked by pirates, so I set course for their nearby outpost, where I made quick use of the foes thanks to Ingrid’s Valkyrie skills: a powerful spear, and a Leap ability that allows her to vault lower-down obstacles and traverse great distances. And thanks to the crew’s endeavours, I bagged some more food, mead, and silverware for our supplies.

After our glorious adventure and subsequent crew expansion, I steered the ship back home to Norhaven. Here we could recover, reap our earnings in Hacksilver (the currency of the game), and buy and sell items from the market. There were other buildings here: the Great Hall and the Docks, though I couldn’t go there until I’d been on more quests.

So, all that was left for me was to venture out into the sea once more, to find more loot, recruit more vikings to my crew, slay more pirates, and explore the world before me. Who knew what would await me? All I know is, that Iron Tides so far has been an entertaining experience so far, and one that I can see myself enjoying as it progresses through development.

(Update: It turns out that a really nasty pirate gang awaited me, and my entire crew were subsequently slaughtered.)

Steam Early Access Link || £10.99 / $14.99 /  €14.99 (15% off until 31st July)

About The Author


Astrid is the equivalent of Lenin if Indie Haven were the Bolshevik Party. But it's not, she's just the Editor-in-Chief. When she's not mashing Communism into video games and writing about how it makes sense on her personal website, they're manning the ship here, as well as writing news, reviews, and features all about the indie games industry.

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  • Erik Habets

    Thank you Astrid for this preview. This sounds really cool. The way you wrote it gave me good insight in the gameplay. this triggered me to check it out.