Song of Iron, developed by Resting Relic, is a new side scrolling action adventure based in a Nordic World. An interesting note about Studio Escape; it’s only one person. Yep, a man by the name of Joel Winter has been developing this game for 10 years all by his lonesome.
He’s worked on some other titles too, like Halo 5, but Song of Iron is his creation. Is this an adventure worth taking or should this title be forgotten like the Gods of old?
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the game below.
Song of Iron
Developer: Resting Relic
Publisher: Resting Relic
Platforms: Windows PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (reviewed)
Release Date: August 31st, 2021
Price: $19.99 USD
In this dark Nordic world, you’ll find your character faced with a long and perilous quest due to a promise to a lost loved one. You can choose between male and female, but the quest still plays out the same regardless of choice. There’s some minor dialogue from mini bosses throughout your journey to the top of a mountain, but the story is relatively short.
On a second playthrough I was able to breeze through in no time. I will say there’s a very unexpected twist towards the end of the game. I can’t go into more without spoiling it, but keen eyed players will start to notice things as they work through the game.
How the game plays is pretty simple and straightforward, but that’s not a bad thing. Head to the right and kill anything that gets in your way, simple. While “Stealth” was mentioned in a trailer, there’s really little need for it. Hack and Slash was the better way to go about it. The combat is fun, but at times can feel a little clunky or slow.
You’ll have access to a variety of handheld weapons, a bow and a shield. The shield splinters and breaks after just a few hits, so you won’t be able to just stand there and block.
Even if your shield breaks or you lose a sword from a misplaced throw, once you dispatch enemies you will be able to pick up their equipment afterwards. This is actually one other small downside. Picking up certain items can be a pain, particularly when they are all in one big pile of enemies. It can be a bit of a process to get exactly what you want.
In addition, you’ll find various pieces of armor along the way which grant unique abilities. Some of these abilities are needed to progress through certain areas of the game, while others assist in combat. The most useful by far is the one which allows you to call your thrown weapon back. Once you complete the campaign, you will be able to go through it again with all your upgrades available at the start.
The bow was a weapon I both loved and hated. I actually avoided it quite a bit during my first playthrough. On a controller, I found it rather tedious to aim, often aiming too high or too low. Enemies move in quickly so, there’s not much time to fire again when you miss. When I got more comfortable with how the combat worked, I did use the bow more frequently, easily taking out enemies with headshots.
Several boss style fights present themselves through the game. These are generally easy once you figure out the basic attack pattern. Some I figured out after one death, and others without dying at all.
While most of the game is a side scrolling adventure heading in just one direction; there are several puzzle sections that require climbing to different platform areas, and avoiding traps and such.
While the puzzles are not complex, that’s not to say Song of Iron holds your hand through it. There are some areas where you may find yourself stuck, really needing to look around to figure it out to progress, but don’t expect any hint boxes to pop up.
The main thing to keep an eye on is your health and stamina. Health, thankfully, regenerates outside of combat so there’s no need to worry about health pickups. Exhausting your stamina will get you into a pickle both in battle, and also comes into play with climbing.
As one would imagine, drained stamina in combat slows your roll and attack, which means death. With climbing however, it’s more of a nuisance than a real concern. I didn’t fall from anywhere that actually caused me to die.
When it comes to presentation this game looks great – the background scenery, the character creation, the style. You can really tell this was the project of one man with the care.
Detail is given to this world you find yourself in; the dark moodiness of the caves, the ice cold fear of a frozen mountain, and the relaxing view of beautiful countryside. It does a really great job of helping the player to immerse themselves in this world they are traversing through.
While Song of Iron does have some impressive qualities, I did come across my fair share of frustrations. The worst was when I was about halfway through the game.
My character died and I then found myself stuck on an endless loading screen. Blood spatter would appear, then quickly disappear around the “loading” text. Despite restarting my Xbox and game, when I tried to resume my quest, I was always brought right back to that screen. I had no choice but to start over.
Similar things happened in other areas as well, such as getting stuck in a walking animation but headed in the wrong direction, or finding myself stuck in a sliding position. While these were an inconvenience, they were fixed with a simple exit and restart of the game.
Some of the traps can be irritating as well, but that very well may be more of a criticism of me. Have you ever heard someone say the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results? Well, that’s me gaming.
One other highlight of the game was the score, composed by Will Goss. The Nordic vibe is felt throughout, and fits perfectly in each area of the game. It’s also interesting to note that Will Goss came across this game himself. He made up a demo track and joined the Discord for Song of Iron, and that’s how he was picked. His score was absolutely perfect for this title.
Despite a short campaign, minor bugs, and a few complaints about the controls, Song of Iron was very enjoyable; and I’m excited to see what a sequel will bring. Hats off to the one man developer for this brutal Nordic action adventure.
Song of Iron was reviewed on Xbox Series X using a review code provided by Resting Relic. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.