This Week I Played: Bad North

Coming to mobile phones this year.
This week I played the crap out of Bad North.
This week I played the crap out of Bad North. Raw Fury

Welcome to This Week I Played! Here, I share some thoughts on some of the games I’ve been playing for this week, and how I’m enjoying them so far. Most of these games are lesser known ones, or older ones. It’s a good balance between a review and short overview of each game, which I hope can get you interested in the game or spark some discussion on it. As always, you can check out my full reviews on the newest games here on Player.One, as well as contact me to share some thoughts on my Twitter page, right at the top.

First off, why is this game so good? Like, hot damn.

I’ve just finished doing just about everything I could and experienced all the endings and personalities for Whispers of a Machine, so I thought I’d check the Raw Fury page to see if they have another title I could keep the good times rolling with, one that I can preferably enjoy in short bursts as I grind through my articles every day. Sure enough, I was intrigued by a title named Bad North, a roguelite RTS (real time strategy) tactics game. I was immediately drawn to its simplistic, highly minimalistic graphics and smooth animations.

Fast forward four days and I can’t stop playing Bad North. It’s niche, alright, and there is no going around that. Some people just aren’t built for roguelites, and the appeal can vary from person to person. There is a certain skill ceiling needed in Bad North, and strategic planning is an absolute must once you start diving deeper, but there is a certain sense of fun to be had from just watching your brilliant tactical strategic victory play out. I always play Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries when I’m playing it, because it makes it a hundred percent cooler. Even when you’re ultimately wiped out, of course.

Bad North revolves around you leading an exodus of people from island to island as you defend it from the barbaric Viking invaders. Along the way, you’ll be tasked with keeping structures on the island from falling, and in doing so you will be rewarded with coins. These coins can buy your troops valuable upgrades. You start out with one troop, with each unit managed by a commander. Along the way, you’ll be able to gain more troops and commanders by liberating additional islands.

Bad North works on a fatigue mechanic; each time you send a troop to an island, they’ll become fatigued afterwards, which means that you have to end your turn first before using them again. Each turn pushes you towards new places, and once a turn ends, you cannot go back to previous islands again. This makes it so much more strategic, as you have to manage which troops to send and to where, so that you can cover all the available islands every turn and get coins to fund your growing war machine.

Each troop starts out as simple swordsmen, but through upgrades, they can either be archers, shield-wielding infantry or fearsome pikesmen. It’s incredible how much variety of strategy you can apply with just these four troop types. Gameplay is incredibly simple as well; clicking on your troop slows down time, and right clicking on a tile afterwards moves them to it. It’s as simple as that. You just have to figure out where and when to place them, as the Vikings will always come by boat from all different sides of the island.

It’s a simple, yet brutal game. Each move matters, and you will always have to think ahead. I’ve been playing now for nearly a week, and I think I’m not even close to being an expert. It can be a bit unforgiving in the fact that if your troop gets wiped out, especially its commander, you lose that unit forever, thereby forcing you to find more. Thankfully, if you find Bad North becoming too hard, there’s a difficulty slider. This can be especially helpful if you’re new to the genre.

Nonetheless, Bad North is an exceedingly good title, and one you can easily pick up on a whim, play for a few turns, then drop again. It’s one of those time wasters where you don’t just mind-numbingly press or tap a button for a few minutes, swipe here and there and watch a few animations play out. Bad North forces you to become a ruthless, calculating tactician, and I love the game for it.


4/5 – Solid title in short bursts. It focuses on the best it has to offer, and it does so in an incredibly clean and minimalistic style that should get the ‘A E S T H E T I C’ people interested. I wonder if they have shirts based on these designs.

Get this game if you like:

RTS games – this is just a barebones RTS, with none of the tedious resources grind and annoying turtling phase.

Easy to pick up, hard to master tropes – Those first few levels will definitely get you hooked, but prepare for the beating of your life once you get your first four troops.

Something to play in between your downtimes that are not too long – pop this bad boy in during a slow day, put it on window mode, and enjoy it whenever you’re bored. For maximum comfort, play with classical music instead of the in-game one.

PS – Bad North ships to mobile phones sometime this year. Guess I know what I’ll be doing in the bathroom while doing my business.

Bad North is available to play on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch and in the future, on Android and iOS devices.

I also played Catherine Classic, World War Z, and Dungeon Fighter Online, among others.

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