Stranded on a foreign island, Eirik and his family have to build a settlement from scratch, fend off bad guys, and just try to survive from one day to the next. That last part is actually the hardest, since hunger, dehydration, sleep deprivation, and depression are much more fearsome adversaries than the occasional raider.

Dead in Vinland is, at its very core, a management game, wrapped up in a well-done Nordic narrative and garnished with some turn-based combat that has the tactical depth of Darkest Dungeon. I half-expected to not like it due to its heavy reliance on micromanagement, but it turns out that I cannot help but adore this game.

You start with your family of four, driven from their homes by invading Vikings and stranded on unknown shores. Each day is divided into three phases, two of which can be spent on various activities and the last one for relaxation, nourishment, and sharing stories around the camp fire. During the day, you delegate activities, such as exploring the island, gathering resources or food, or developing new activities.

In order to survive, you need to balance all these things - otherwise you'll starve to death, die of thirst or sheer exhaustion, or succumb to despair. Each one of your characters has different traits and stats which make them more suitable for specific tasks - but sometimes you'll just have to improvise to make ends meet.

The thing is: you're always on the brink of annihilation and way too often saved by some narrow escape or windfall. It's death by atrition if you don't play it right, and it certainly feels that way. Despair is the name of this game and every new day without bad news feels like a gift.


Thankfully, your little camp will grow, with additional characters joining your settlement and adding their talents to your ragged group of survivors. Of course, this also means that you'll have more mouths to feed... And then there's the "ruler" of the island - and he demands a tribute.

Dead in Vinland is a game of thriving against all odds, of despair and hope, and it completely got me under its spell. While I'm constantly tempted to restart on a more forgiving difficulty, I just cannot abandon these people. Not as long as everyone is alive - which seems less likely with every passing day. The game's presentation is lovely as well - the slow and sad, almost dirge-like music in particular is quite wonderful.

Dead In Vinland will be released tomorrow on GOG, Steam, and Origin for $19.99. For more information, visit the game's website and follow developer CCCP on Twitter.