Mirthwood looks like Stardew Valley in the Middle Ages, but surprises with its cool sword fights

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You can try out the role-playing game Mirthwood for free as part of the Steam Next Fest. I played it and reveal what you can expect

I love the Middle Ages in games. The time of castles and knights isn’t just good for games because it looks good. Medieval worlds also simply feel wilder, more dangerous and more undiscovered than their more modern counterparts. Great prerequisites for a role-playing game likeMirthwood

AtSteam Next Festthe title caught my eye because of its pretty, albeit simple, graphics. And after playing it, I’m really looking forward to the release in the third quarter of 2024

What is Mirthwood about?

The roleplay begins dramatically: I stand among the burning houses of our settlement, injured and dead villagers are everywhere on the streets.

After quickly grabbing a picture of my family from our house, I hurry to the docks, as my father instructed me to do. A ship is waiting there to take me to my destination: A new land, untouched by the horrors of the war that devastated my village.

Here, by strange means, I finally come into possession of a run-down farmhouse, my new home. Initially just a place to sleep, I can gradually renovate the house, furnish it and turn it into a cozy shelter. Provided I’m not distracted by numerous other tasks and activities, such as:

  • Exploration:Mirthwood lets me explore an open world in which towns, caves, ruins and bandit camps await. I solve puzzles and defeat enemies to get my hands on valuable loot. There are a total of six regions to discover.

    (The seasons also change during the course of the game. Winter in particular presents you with new challenges)
    (The seasons also change during the course of the game. Winter in particular presents you with new challenges)

    • Fights:If I want to hold my own against stronger opponents, simply waving my sword around is of little help. Instead, I have to dodge blows or block them with good timing and then strike at a favorable moment. I found this quite difficult, especially at the beginning. Later on, instead of using a sword, I can also fight with daggers or become an archer.
    • Quests:I also receive quests through notices or conversations with NPCs. In the short demo, I could only play one, fairly simple quest, which then gave me the opportunity to rebuild an old brewery. However, it was not yet clear exactly how this would affect the game.
    • Survival:I can’t adventure indefinitely in Mirthwood. Actions deplete my energy bar, which I always recharge with a good night’s sleep in my house or a camp. I also have to eat regularly to satisfy my hunger. If I get too hungry or tired, I faint and wake up in my house in the morning.
    • Crafting and farming:Not only can I decorate my farm nicely, I can also build lots of practical items there: I prepare particularly nutritious dishes at the cooking station, and I use the smelting furnace and anvil to produce metals and forge tools and weapons from them. I can plant vegetables or graze animals in the extensive fields.
    • Friends and enemies:But our sociable side doesn’t have to be neglected in Mirthwood either. In villages and towns, we can talk to the inhabitants Sims-style by choosing topics of conversation, making jokes or giving compliments. In this way, we can make new friends and unlock new quests, or make ourselves really unpopular.

    (Skill cards give you special traits, but you only have a limited number of slots.)
    (Skill cards give you special traits, but you only have a limited number of slots.)

    As you can see, there is definitely enough to do in Mirthwood. However, you can specialize in certain activities. When creating your character, you define certain weaknesses and strengths based on your origin (country and social status) and your background. And with interchangeable skill cards, you can strengthen your most important abilities later in the game.

    What I like, what remains unclear?

    • I was really pleased with the sword fights:I was expecting just thrashing around, but instead I have to pay close attention to what my opponent is doing and dodge or block at the right moment. It really comes down to skill and practice and I got noticeably better after an hour of playing.
    • I also had a lot of fun building my farm:I simply have a weakness for fixing up run-down buildings. So I really enjoy clearing the paths, cutting down trees and mowing the grass to create fields.
    • I haven’t seen much of the open world yet:So far I’ve enjoyed exploring it. In addition to larger, sometimes quest-relevant locations such as the brewery, there are also smaller puzzles, camps and ruins to discover. I am rewarded with new weapons, armor or other valuable loot. Whether the rest of the open world is just as full is yet to be seen.
    • I don’t like the buildings so much:&nbspUnfortunately, they don’t look at all medieval, but rather like cheap fantasy. That’s a real shame, because the armor and outfits look really good and I actually really like the graphics style of the game.

    Editor’s verdict

    Every Steam Next Fest, my Steam wish list grows by at least ten new games. Realistically, I won’t play them all, but Mirthwood is definitely on the shortlist.

    The role-playing game seems to me to be the perfect way to switch off after a stressful day. Depending on my mood, I can either expand my farm, take a trip into town or explore a nearby cave. Hunger and energy are easy to control and never got me into trouble in the demo. And if the fight gets too tough, I just run away if necessary.

    I just wonder how long Mirthwood can really keep me occupied: How big is the open world? Are there many quests? And how far can I expand my farm? These are questions that will probably not be answered until the release in Q3 of 2024. Until then, Mirthwood remains on my wish list