Viking Quest - an Epic Tale of Loot and Legend

A Review by Richard Osgood*

Cite this as: R. Osgood 2002 'Viking Quest - an Epic Tale of Loot and Legend', Internet Archaeology 12. http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.12.15

BBC Archaeology and Ancient History, Viking Quest game. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/games/vikingquest/index.shtml
Requires Flash 4 plug-in or above. Sound card optional.

Sounding rather more akin to a promotional release for the Tony Curtis/Kirk Douglas film The Vikings, Viking Quest is another BBC undertaking. From Julian Richards' latest offering, The Blood of the Vikings, this game centres on putting together a crew to undertake a raid on the monastery at Lindisfarne.

Frontpage of the Viking Quest game
Figure 1: Frontpage

One is immediately conscious of the quality of the design of this site and its graphics. Simplicity is often the best policy with games of this nature - something that Viking Quest illustrates beautifully. A flash animation of a Viking longboat rolling in the sea (and something that could make the viewer nauseous should they choose to stare at the page for long enough) tells the user of the basic aims of the game - to kill and loot for the 'glory of the Viking name'.

virtual seasickness
Figure 2: Virtual seasickness

Now, already we are escaping one of the basic tenets of the television series; that Viking life was not all rape and pillage. The sole aim of this site is geared towards the latter.

Our quest takes place in 7th century Norway and there is a choice of three settlements from which to start your adventure. Informed choices are made over the types of crew and raw materials available in each location, all portrayed to a consistently high level. Once your location and type of boat is chosen, flash animations serve to show the stages of a boat's construction, then one chooses a crew.

Building a longship
Figure 3: Building a longship

Following your selection process - does one need a sail-maker or a navigator or does one simply need heavily armed hairy psychopaths for such a venture? - you choose a route to your target. All decisions will have a bearing on the result of the expedition and one is soon casting runes to converse with Odin about the prospects of success.

setting sail
Figure 4: Setting sail

On arrival at the island, select a landing point that will best suit the twin aims of accessibility and surprise and then go and attack the monks!

The fight for the monastery
Figure 5: Charge!

A bloodthirsty scene then ensues, where poor old friars armed solely with sticks are confronted by Norway's finest, with inevitable results. If you chose your crew and routes wisely you can make off with a large haul of booty before being given the taxing choice of whether or not to set fire to the monastery - archaeological evidence from the television programme need not be taken into account at this point... Whether sooty or not, one then sets sail for Norway again and the results of your quest.

Burning the monastery
Figure 6: Deciding whether or not to set fire to the monastery

All your decisions then come together and you are given a score. As this is from a website, should you have made a reasonable score, you are given a 'password' which enables you to enter a prize draw for a copy of one of Julian Richards' books on the television series. If your score is poor, and yes it is possible to score zero, you are consigned to duties with a cod-fishing fleet.

All in all, forget political correctness, revisionism about the real influence (positive or negative) of the Vikings, and enjoy the game as simply being enjoyable and beautifully produced. Certainly worth a visit.

Richard Osgood
South Gloucestershire Council
The Council Offices
Castle Street
Thornbury
South Gloucestershire BS35 1HF

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