I had heard very good things about this game so I had high expectations.
The art is indeed gorgeous, it is reminiscent of old animation movies from 70s and 80s, but with a modern twist.
Unfortunately I wish there was more positive things to say about the game. Well, the world and the background story are pretty good, plus the game doesnt feel too short nor too long... I actually was positively surprised by it, I thought the story would draw to an end earlier.
Here's a collection of random thoughts I have about the game:
1) you spend almost half of your time staring at a long string of tiny characters plodding at unnatural speed through snowy landscapes.
2) the map is not integrated at all in the game. You dont have any saying in which direction your caravan is going, everything is decided. You can access the map only when you camp or stop the caravan, and at that point I've already forgotten where I am supposed to go... why isnt the map shown when the route to be taken is presented to the player? there's a huge map full of Norse-sounding names, and you can click on most of them to get additional info... but why would you? I got bored after a while, like with the planets' descriptions in Mass Effect. You dont just dump a huge map to the players to satisfy their thirst of knowledge, you introduce the world little by little with bits and pieces that are relevant to the story. In TBS only a handful of locations on the map matter for the story and they are all non-descriptive... one town or the other, they feel all the same (except the Varl capital).
3) I heard some people saying "The dialogues are really good"... well I dont know what kind of games these people have been playing but the dialogues in TBS range from average to bad, with a couple bordering to nonsensical (e.g. the one of the mead house stands out for making little to no sense). I grew more and more irritated.
4) Another little irritating thing: the lines in dialogues only proceed forward. If you press accidentally the mouse key (in my case the trackpad) you will skip to the next line without possibility to go back. it happened to me a bunch of times, I play with the finger resting on the Macbook's trackpad and a little twitch sends the dialogue forward
5) the story feels really average, many questions are left completely unanswered... I can only guess they might be doing a sequel to expand on the story. I'm not gonna mention anything to avoid spoilers but seriously there's stuff that happens that you feel it's major and could definitely steer the story some way or the other, but instead nothing happens and the event/story element is not mentioned anymore afterwards.
6) the fighting system is super clunky, doesnt feel fluid at all. You are often pitted against more numerous / stronger enemies and your characters never seem to level up fast enough for the fight to feel equal. Moreover they are equipped with abilities which are often difficult to use (this ability? Only works with enemies which are positioned EXACTLY diagonally in respect to the original target. Oh you think it's hard to use? How about we make it so that it can inflict damage also to your allies?), or semi-useless (each time my Raidmaster used Stone Wall he's never been targeted afterwards; Rain of Arrows, Mend, and others are so nerfed they suck). In the end it pretty much resolved in "I start chipping down the armor first, then I go for the health" with basic attacks, hoping the bad guys would go down before mine. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didnt. Lost maybe 1/3 of the battles, without chance to replay them.
7) the big-scale clashes are just ridiculous... you can chose one of the strategies like "Hold them" or "charge" or "tighten your ranks", and how the battle will resolve feels totally random. If it is not, than there is no way to understand the logic behind it.
8) I felt no attachment whatsoever for the characters nor the caravan members (i.e. people who depended on me for protection and leadership). Especially the caravan members, they are just a stat, when they starve you see the numbers going down and the morale plunging and you're like "yeah so what? the game continues anyway.". This is a major drawback, you dont feel you have anything to lose, you can lose all the battles and starve out almost everyone in the caravan, you will still go on. At a certain point I started playing like a di*k, thinking "well let's see how much I can f-up before I get a game over screen"... it never came. Ok for the story-driven playability, but this is still a game. If the game plays itself what's the point?
9) you are forced to make totally random choices. E.g. how many ratios to buy before setting on a leg of the journey... you have no idea how many days it will last... how about informing the player?? Renown is always scarce, because it is mainly used to evolve characters, so it would be good to have some planning before spending some hard-gained renown.
10) The banner itself plays NO role at all in the story, it is mentioned in one line of dialogue and that's it. For the whole game. So much for a whole "saga"....
11) Hardly any tutorial in the game, just a basic one about combat. How about explaining how the different abilities work? I had to quit the game and resume from last checkpoint when I realised my assumptions about a certain ability were off and I lost the little tactical advantage I had because I screwed up
12) I dunno what was the reason, not enough money to put in the artistic production or time constraints, but I got so ♥♥♥♥♥♥ off when I realised (and i realised it pretty soon in the game) that there is only one image for each character. All the dialogues, during the whole story, the same expression. Zero emotion response. Oddleif is stuck with the same scornful expression for the whole game, Eyvind with a sorry-♥♥♥♥♥ smile, and Ubin goes around holding his quill even in the middle of a battle.