I can only think of three possible reasons why you would play all the way through Beowulf. Perhaps you are a fan of the movie starring painstakingly accurately digitized yet dead-eyed actors. Maybe you only have an Xbox 360 and want to play a God of War style game and can’t find Conan, Darksiders, or Bayonetta. Or maybe you feel the need to punish yourself with a terrible experience.
The game opens on a gray pebbled beach with gray surf pounding on gray rocks. I was instructed to race another Viking over the gray sand toward some gray cliffs. After I mastered the clumsy climbing mechanic, I was rewarded with a fight with gray crabs. Nothing says I’m a Viking warrior like beating up some seafood.
I couldn’t take much more of this race, and apparently neither could a sea serpent, which came out of the ocean and drug me down to the depths. I wish I could say the game was over at this point, but then a golden woman rescued me, whispered I was her hero, and deposited me on the shore to fight the sea serpent again.
A fight against a sea serpent should be an epic struggle, but with Beowulf’s sluggish control, lack of jump or dash buttons, I could seldom connect an attack with it. I got bored and left the room at one point, but whatever glowing red power Golden Girl had given me wouldn’t let me die no matter how many times the sea serpent slapped me with its tail. I finally slayed the serpent, and after an incomprehensible cutscene found myself piloting a Viking Galley through a treacherous storm.
Now before I go any further, let me ask you a question. When you think of Viking activities, what comes to mind? Pillaging, burning, consumption of mead? How about rhythm games? No?
The only way to get through the terrible storm is to tap the buttons in time with a prompt on the screen. Successfully matching the timing rewarded me with a unified grunt from the crew, which I translated as, “We feel so manly rowing in rhythm, let’s celebrate by killing some more crabs.”
Sadly for me, but happily for my crew, after landing on another dark gray beach, that’s exactly what we did. This time, I was able to grab a sword, and send crab shells flying everywhere. This seemed to excite my crew, because with every strike, they cheered for me. They should see me at a seafood buffet.
Click “game over” symbol for rating explanation. Beowulf was played on Xbox 360 for about an hour, which is all that I could stand.