Song of Iron is a new side-scrolling action/adventure game, inspired by Limbo, and developed by a single developer called Joe Winter. This is a game that caught my eye during the Summer Games Fest, and it quickly became one of my most wanted in 2021.
Song of Iron may be a little rough around the edges but I think this can be forgiven due to the one-man team. This is an action-platformer in a Viking setting. You play as an unnamed Viking, and you can select a male or female Viking. Unfortunately, your village has been burned down and you are on the lookout for revenge.
The environments include dark forests, caverns, and rivers. The world and the main character look absolutely fantastic, this owes a lot to Joe Winter’s background as an animator. The care and attention put into the detail in the game from the character movement to the environments really do a great job of promoting the game. A single look at a promoted GIF for the game has me interested.
The story is fairly simple in the game, as are the mechanics. You can see and feel the inspirations of Limbo everywhere you turn, from the moving block puzzles to the huge dangerous enemies that want to tear you apart.
Combat is a large part of the game and you’ll start out with a simple sword and as you progress you’ll pick up a bow and arrow, shield, and other weapons too. Each weapon has a certain character and feels to it, and a hefty weight. Smashing your sword into an opponent feels good, as well as throwing an ax and pinging an arrow from your bow. There’s a great amount of care and attention gone into the feel of the game which I appreciate.
In opposition to many of the video game tropes these days there is no leveling up, no RPG mechanics. You get a weapon, use it until you throw it away, or find a new one to replace it with. The only main difference with the weapons is some are two-handed rather than single-handed. All weapons feel good though.
I like the combat in Song of Iron, but it may not be for everyone. This isn’t Hollow Knight level combat by any means, but it doe feel good and weighty. The game does a good job of introducing you to the mechanics early in the game with a nice tutorial walkthrough and you’ll be introduced to the melee mechanics, doge rolling, and using the shield for your defense.
As you make your way through the game you’ll pick up magical powers which you can use to affect your weapons, for example, create flaming swords or you can also add a little electricity to spice things up a little bit. There are other abilities too like super speed and an effective stomp mechanic. The abilities are a nice way to mix up the combat, by the time I got the ability to create a flaming sword I was ready for a change.
As well as the combat there are also some puzzles too. Most are relatively straightforward puzzles, where you have to move a block or interact with the environment to get around a series of traps. The game doesn’t really hold your hand or give you many clues, so it’s best to have your thinking cap on. Some of the puzzles can be a little baffling and in a world where you are pretty much given the route to you handed on a plate, Song of Iron is different and expects you to discover your path forward. For example, before entering the 3rd area there’s a puzzle where you have to find a route down below, but the entrance wasn’t that obvious and it had me going back and forth quite a lot.
Platforming around the environments is another major part of Song of Iron, which can be a little cumbersome at times. Again, it feels a little rough around the edges. This isn’t Celeste, but it’s adequate. I played the game with a controller throughout, and I did hear in an interview the developer focused on the mouse and keyboard first, and then controller after. I don’t know if this added to the feeling of not feeling quite right on a controller, but the fact the developer mentioned this, I could feel it in the game.
One outstanding feature of the game is the visuals. This looks incredible from the character design to the environment. It’s a gorgeous-looking game. It looks great on PC, but it’d look even better on Nintendo Switch. However, I don’t think the game is coming to other platforms anytime soon other than Xbox and PC.
Song of Iron is a fairly straightforward game. There’s not much HUD to speak of and the feedback you get is onscreen and through the game. This is a game that caught my eye throughout the summer through some clever marketing and also a free demo. I’m really pleased I played the game on its full release. If you like Limbo, and ever wondered what it’d be like to live in this world if you were a Viking the=n imagine no more, and go and check out Song of Iron, you won’t be disappointed.
Developer: Resting Relic, Escape LLC
Publisher: Resting Relic, Escape LLC
Platforms: PC and Xbox
Release Date: 31st August 2021