“Hey, do you want to go to Sweden?”
One simple question and an even simpler answer was all it took. About a week later I was on an international flight from Los Angeles International Airport to the remote town of Kiruna, Sweden. After fifteen sleepless hours, I set foot in the Arctic Circle for the first time in my life. During this time of year, unlike the name would suggest, the weather was a crisp 75 degrees.
I made my way through the airport and, soon after collecting my luggage, I was greeted by the various representatives who organized this trip. Outside, there were black shuttle vans waiting with giant “Legend of Solgard” logos stamped on the side. Up until this point, the details surrounding this trip and what it would entail were very cryptic.
Myself, along with ten other event attendees, each looking more tired than the next, loaded into the shuttle vans which promptly took off. We went down a two-lane highway, then onto a dirt road, which ended at what I thought was a lake but later turned out to be the Torne River. There, a Viking-style rowboat was patiently waiting for us.
This is how my journey through Swedish Lapland began and how I came to learn about Legend of Solgard.
This was the launch event for a new game called Legend of Solgard, an RPG puzzle game by Snowprint Studios and King. The game, which is loosely based on Norse mythology and Scandinavian lore, follows the heroine, Embla, as she attempts to prevent Ragnarok. Her home world is now under attack by an army of frost minions and icy villains. Your job as Embla is to assemble an army of various colorful creatures, native to Solgard, to defeat the intruders and close the ice portals from which they appear. Your faithful but sometimes irritating guide, Ratatosk, will help you along your journey as you head into battle, teaching you new skills and tactics.
When it comes to gameplay, at its core, the game revolves around players moving, matching, and merging their colorful creatures to transform them into something more useful. For example, merging three Roughpaws in a vertical line will combine them into a single Roughpaw that can now attack the opposing side. If you combine those same Roughpaws in a horizontal line, the creatures will transform into a defensive wall which is useful at stopping enemy attacks.
There are several other merge combinations that result in different attribute increases and abilities, which you’ll learn as you progress through the game. Each creature you collect and add to your army also has their own classification, special abilities, and preferred playstyle. Depending on the objective, one might perform better than the other, so you’re encouraged to try different combinations.
In a match, each side is given three moves before the turn ends. Once the turn ends, creatures set to attack will advance against the enemy. Each side will continue trading turns until one side runs out of hit points. Each creature in your army also has their own individual health which corresponds to their attack/defense points.
To be successful in this game you need to upgrade and evolve the creatures in your army. After each victorious battle, you’ll earn gold, dust, or gems which are all required to either unlock new creatures or upgrade your current ones. The game is launching with 30 creatures but Snowprint will be adding two new creatures every month. The game is also launching with four different worlds which total 160 campaign battles. There is a fifth world already visible in the game but it won’t be available at launch. Across each world, you’ll battle against various enemy creatures and world bosses.
Apart from leveling up your creatures, Embla can also level up. As you progress through the campaign, Embla will earn experience which will allow her to level up, increase stats and unlock new abilities. Leveling Embla up will also unlock several new game modes that aren’t linked to the main story. After hitting the level threshold for each, you’ll unlock Treasure Caves, Bounties, Dungeons, Hero Arena, Boss Arena, and Underworld. These additional game modes offer a nice break from the campaign storyline and another way to level up your creatures and earn items or gold. In the Bounties game mode, for example, you’ll challenge powerful fugitives, and if defeated, you’ll get a big gold payout. In The Dungeons game mode, you can show off your skills to other players by joining a guild and challenging special guild bosses.
Like most games available in 2018, there are in-app purchase options. The game will let you purchase diamonds and players can trade these diamonds for gold or chests. The pricing for diamonds starts at $1.99 for 200 diamonds and goes up to $99.99 for 14,500 diamonds. If you’d rather not spend your hard earned money on diamonds, the game has free daily quests and login bonuses.
Like Embla, the attendees of this Swedish Lapland event were asked to participate in a training camp, which if completed, would equip us with the tools needed to prevent our own Ragnarok. We received professional training in various areas of combat. Up first was archery. After our lesson, we divided up into five-person guilds for a few quick matches. Not to brag, but I successfully lead our guild to victory in our first match with a score of 28/30. The second match was a completely different story, though, as we came in last.
Attempting to outmaster the axe-throwing Legend of Solgard creature, Grimchop, we also practiced our axe throwing skills. I tossed axes at a small wooden post about 30 feet away. I missed every shot, but I did hit a tree nearby and chopped off a small branch. The next test in our warrior training was surviving the category 5 rapids of the world famous Torne River. This was by far the most fun and easiest portion of our training. Sure, my arms were sore the next morning, but we managed to complete the entire 2-hour trip without losing a single person in our six-person raft.
The final test in our warrior training was spending an entire night in a room made entirely out of ice at Icehotel 365. The walls, furniture, glassware, and even the mattress frame were all rock solid ice. I was given a sleeping bag to lay over the room’s mattress and went to bed. Ironically, I had more trouble with heat than the cold. You’re provided a maximum strength sleeping bag which keeps in your body heat extremely well.
Legend of Solgard is available for iOS and Android. Getting started won’t cost you a dime and the entire campaign can be completed without any in-app purchases. For me, the game currently lives on the homepage of my iPhone. It’s been ages since I was hooked on a mobile game, but now I’m two worlds into the Legend of Solgard campaign and my creature army is looking stronger than ever. The combination of casual puzzle play and collectability of creatures will keep me coming back for the foreseeable future.
Disclaimer: King provided airfare, food, and hotel accommodations. Early access to the game was also provided.