Snap Judgment – Life is Feudal: MMO

774 words.

Life Is Feudal, the MMO, as opposed to the other two games with the same name that are different, recently became free to download and play on Steam. This is a game I’ve wanted to check out almost since the day I heard about it, which seems like five or ten or a hundred years ago now. It’s been an Early Access game all this time (and still is), but it’s always been more than the amount I’m willing to pay for an Early Access game, which is $10. Finally they decided to do what is essentially a free trial.

Installing the game through Steam was fairly easy. At least until I ran the game. Then, it turns out, there is another installation process after the Steam installation. The Life Is Feudal launcher then has to download the real game. Presumably, the Steam installation is just for the launcher and maybe some components that are years old by now. It took a while for the launcher to download its stuff, because, as seems to be the norm for European-based developers, they chose to use torrent as their launcher download method, which always seems to take longer.

Eventually I was able to launch the game. It looks surprisingly nice for an indie game. The 3D graphics, that is. The UI is best described as simplistic. But the graphics are acceptable, if gray and dull and dingy. Presumably that was the aesthetic they were going for, though, since it’s meant to represent the Dark Ages, when history teaches us that sunlight and color didn’t exist.

The beach where apparently all the Vikings wrecked. Unretouched image showing all the glorious grays and blacks of the game's tutorial island.

The gameplay is exactly what you’d expect from this kind of sandbox MMO: You cut down trees to get lumber, you use the lumber to build things, etc., etc. You start with nothing but rags and pumpernickel. You begin on a “tutorial” island (if you so choose) which walks you through the basics of gameplay. There are NPCs in the town that direct you through the various activities of digging, cutting, gathering, and whatnot. It seemed like a nice introduction to the game and the sandbox genre in general.

I did not experience any PvP, griefing, or ganking. In fact, I didn’t see a single other player in the game, which might be because nobody else is playing, or because the tutorial is a solo instance. I don’t know which.

I didn’t dislike the game. But at the same time, I wasn’t blown away by the game, either. It looked fine. It played fine. But I didn’t see much that looked especially innovative or interesting, either.

I found myself enjoying interacting with the NPCs, and their strange accents and dialects that were completely unfamiliar to me. I couldn’t tell if it was a made-up culture and language or just some European dialect I’m unfamiliar with…. Norse perhaps, or Norwegian. Unfortunately, knowing what I know about sandbox games in general, I imagine those NPCs will disappear after I leave the tutorial island, and that’s a disappointing thought. I don’t imagine there is much of a “story” to follow in the game. As with most sandbox games, the basic goal is to collect stuff, build stuff, and defend that stuff. After a short time, that gets fairly repetitious.

I’m making some assumptions there about Life Is Feudal. I didn’t make it off the tutorial island, because I only played for about 50 minutes.

Character creation. It's a skill-based game, so that's a plus in my book.

Overall I would say it’s worth checking out for free. I might also cynically add that it might be your last chance to do so, because undoubtedly there’s a reason they’ve decided to try to get more people into the game by making it free.

Here is my YouTube stream of my time in the game. It and this blog post is sort of a test run of my entire plan for Blaugust.

Production Notes: I used Streamlabs OBS for this stream. I now officially hate Streamlabs OBS. There is an echo on the microphone because I had to monitor the microphone track to tell if it was muted or not, because the Streamlabs UI is useless in that regard, and of course it captured that monitored microphone in addition to the original microphone. I am utterly mortified by this massive technical failure that cannot be fixed in post. I am going back to OBS Studio for future streams.

P. S. I had extremely firm intentions to write exactly three structured paragraphs for this post.

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