Springer Samuel: The best underrated video games

Sam Juniper helps you to procrastinate

Art: Rebecca Marks

You’re tired, busy, and stressed about the three tutorial essays that you’ve been putting off. What’s the sensible thing to do? Immerse yourself in the world of underrated video games to distract from the pain of imminent deadlines – here are my recommendations.

Northgard

This real-time strategy game is loosely based on the colonisation of Vinland – a region of North America briefly settled by Vikings under the leadership of Leif Erikson in approximately 1000 AD, five centuries before the expeditions of Christopher Columbus. You play as a Viking leader who has just landed on the shores of the fictional island of Northgard. Upon arrival, you must establish a colony, survive the hostile environment, and eventually beat rival clans to become the ruler of Northgard.

Beginning with a townhall and a few villagers, the first 20 minutes of gameplay are focused on exploring the wilderness, exploiting any special resources you may find to help your economy grow, and skirmishing with the monsters you encounter so you may expand your territory – all whilst stockpiling as much food as you can to brave out the first couple of winters.

Later in the game, once you’re prosperous enough to cobble together a warband of axe-throwers, you can start raiding your opponents in the hopes of eventually destroying their town hall. If a peaceful victory hasn’t been secured, the late game consists an exciting war of attrition, ending with one side’s total annihilation.

This game is based upon Norse mythology and is accompanied by simple yet pleasant graphics and an enchanting soundtrack. Despite the initial learning curve, it feels far more fluid after the fourth or fifth go. It’s still in its beta stages and is being improved upon all the time – I am not ashamed to admit that I spent 25 hours playing Northgard in the middle of my exams last summer. I’ll probably fail my finals if the campaign is released before June.

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Endless Legend

Imagine Civilization V (critically acclaimed turn-based strategy game) crossed with Game of Thrones. That is Endless Legend in a nutshell: it’s both an excellent video game and fantasy story simultaneously.

Starting off with a settler and a handful of soldiers, you must erect a city poised to reap the most resources from the natural environment, explore the world around you, and establish yourself by building up your cities and researching new technology. Players tend to grow exponentially more powerful as the game progresses, giving every endgame a truly epic culmination often when hordes of mythical beings confront one another on the battlefield.

There are a ton of features that make this game stand out from other empire-builder style games. These include an elegant, streamlined city manager, the option to fight battles (rather than the game simulating them for you, like Civ V), and units which can be customised down to their weapons and armour. It even has Game of Thrones style winters, which become increasingly hazardous, frequent, and punishing as the game progresses. Not to mention the beautiful graphics, which makes the planet of Augria (where the game is set) roar into life with bursting colours and twisted landscapes.

Several songs from its soundtrack were in my top 100 songs played on Spotify in 2017. For those reading this who’ve always wondered what it would be like to be in Lord of the Rings this game provides a welcome escape from reality, and is frowned upon less than dressing up and doing it in a forest.