Full disclosure: A preview copy was sent to GWW
Cornerstone: Song of Tyrim is an open world RPG in the vein of Zelda. The imitation is hard to shake with its cell shaded graphics, child hero, and general format of the game. I can’t fault the developers Overflow for making a PC Zelda clone as it’s a successful franchise that is absent from the PC platform. Within the game you take on the role of Tyrim a Viking boy that likes to build stuff instead of adventure or pillage like most Vikings. Crafting is a major mechanic within the game, and is used to solve problems throughout the game. I became a little apprehensive when initially introduced to this concept as collecting materials and crafting items isn’t a particularly favorite activity of mine. I was pleasantly surprised that although crafting is an ability you possess it doesn’t bog down game. Through normal play I quickly maxed my materials making materials hunting nonexistent.
Crafting actually feels like a useful activity within the game and not just a chore to complete. Within the demo build I was never asked to craft X amount of items to give to X NPC. Instead the need to craft comes out of necessity to problem solve. If a ledge is a little too high to jump too, simply craft a quick box to reach it. Is a spider web impeding your progress to an area? Solve this by crafting a torch and lighting it at a nearby fire source and burn the mother down. Crafting can also be used to craft weapons or other useful items. Finding new crafting items is the “reward” for completing quests or discovering new items. It’s a fun mechanic that I think was done well.
Combat within the game is very basic involving a block move and attack move. The need to block is even indicated by an “Arkham” style indicator over Tyrim announcing you’re about to be attacked. I found it easier to simply move away from enemies when this occurred. Doing this I was able to move out of the way and reattack without any problems. Perhaps later in the game combat will become more tactical or difficult, but within the build it was simplistically easy. Despite this, there are a few stand out moments in combat I would hope to see more of. In one instance, I was raiding a bandit camp which outnumbered me and was more powerful. Noticing a bee hive on a tree I was able puck it from the tree and throw it a bandit essentially killing him with bees. He happened to drop a spear weapon which helped me take on the rest of his posse. Moments like this felt great, and being able to scavenge weapons in this manner was fun.
I alluded it formerly with the beehive anecdote, but Cornerstone features real physics for many items in the game. This doesn’t dramatically effect gameplay, but there are a few physics puzzles to solve within the game, and who doesn’t like throwing rocks at stuff. My personal favorite thing to do with the physics was throw skulls at skeletons enemies. Once skeletal enemies fall you can pick up pieces of them for physics mischief. Clubbing a skeleton with his mates head just doesn’t get old.
Complaints I have about the demo build I played was the game takes a while to be enjoyable. Like any RPG you are given a small task list of chores which serve as a tutorial within the first starting village. Frankly, these are boring. Once you get to leave the town, the game opens up and becomes more fun. Getting to that point is a bit dull. The animations of Tyrim for the game also seem a bit simple. This is something I didn’t notice as much once I was allowed to go to the open world and there was more to focus on than Tyrim himself. I also found the cell shaded graphics to be jarring at first, but as a played the game my eyes just got use to them. It seemed like they needed a higher anti-aliasing setting, but I had already maxed my graphic setting.
Despite it’s slow start, by the end of the demo I was really digging the game. I was honestly skeptical that the game was going to be any good at the start of my time with it, but was won over by the end wanting more. Cornerstone: Song of Tyrim has promise to be a fun light hearted RPG. I’m looking forward to the rest of the game when it launches on PC, Mac, and Linux on April 26th!