Welcome to the world of Valkyrius, a throwback harking back to the days of the arcade and its era of classic gaming. Valkyrius is a PC arcade style shoot-em up created by the one-man studio Iridescent Games. It takes place far in the future where a war between surviving space colonists and rebels has been ravaging space and one which the player piloting the titular “Valkyrius One” must fight to reclaim Earth.
Pretty standard stuff for a shmup if I do say myself. It contains the classic elements of older games such as 1942 and even Gradius and plays like a nice tense bullet-hell. Unlike most bullet-hell games though where you survive by memorizing patterns and using sharp reflexes to bypass them, the enemies in Valkyrius have attacks that will simply overwhelm you and even cover all points of escape and doom your ship. This is where Valkyrius‘ unique teleportation mechanic comes in. Your ship is equipped with the ability to teleport at will. This adds a new dimension to the game as it enables you to make lighting-fast evasions in otherwise impossible-to-survive situations and boy are you ever going to need it if you wish to play for longer than a few minutes. I simply love this feature. Nothing beats the feeling of making precise jumps in order to evade oncoming enemies or even making tactical jumps in order to retrieve that one weapon nearby in order to better take out a persistent foe.
Speaking of tactics, Valkyrius has a surprising amount of depth and strategy in it in the form of obtainable weapons and ship modules. Your score is converted into in-game currency which you can use to purchase different customizations that outfit your ship with a variety of looks and weapons. The weapons include standard machine guns, shotgun-esque spread guns, and missiles. There are also weapons of more powerful and strategic value such as the sword or even the shockwave weapon. The shockwave is a screen-filling weapon that destroys all enemies and even small enemy fire. It’s very powerful but extremely hard to come by. The sword is an energy beam that projects out the front of your ship and can be “swung” around you in a 360 degree arc.
These can be very powerful indeed but nothing changes your play style and strategy more than the modules with which you can outfit your ship once you purchase them. These modules include destroying all enemies on screen once you are killed or making your shield impervious to small enemies and missiles. Among the other modules, my personal favourite by far is the power warp which allows you to damage enemies by warping over them. By choosing different modules you can easily change how you approach the game and how you strategize your attack. Pick the diamond shield and use it to simply plow through smaller enemies and laugh at the missiles they fire at you, or pick the power warp and turn your evasion skills into a formidable offensive weapon. Pick your favourite according to your style of play and dominate the battlefield.
As for the game itself I found it an amazingly fun experience. The varied enemies make things challenging, and each stage has a unique end boss which will really test your abilities. Each stage is different and most have interesting and dynamically changing environments. One moment you are fighting over a large sea taking out enemy fleets and the next you are actually giving chase to an enemy submerged underneath the water. A few stages even nix the top-down approach altogether and you are basically doing a free-fall plummet into the heart of an underground enemy fortress. There were many moments where I was simply in awe while I marveled at the changing environment as the soundtrack blared on in a very fitting rock-themed tempo. I loved the soundtrack and each stage has its own track. While all the tracks are different in their own right, they fit in very well with the game and blended well in tune with the game play.
Do not think for one minute though that the experience is over once you have beaten it. The game comes with a plethora of unlockable goodies including new game modes, harder difficulties, the amazing soundtrack, and even concept art. There are also a large number of medals which you can achieve by beating challenges. These go from easy challenges just for beating certain levels, up to challenging ones like beating the game on the hardest difficulty without using continues or even without firing your weapon. How? I have yet to have the gall to try and attempt them, but I will certainly give it a shot. These challenges will ensure you keep coming back to the game for more fun and chaos.
So yes, it is safe to say I enjoyed this title very much. I had a blast with the challenging game play and the teleportation gives the game a nice twist. The soundtrack is spot-on and the content just keeps you coming back for more. I do have a few minor complaints but these are mainly personal opinions. The weapon pickups can be frustrating at times. If you have a load-out that you are comfortable with it can be ruined by attempting to reload or by accidentally touching a different weapon pickup and replacing a needed weapon. The art is nice and crisp with varied enemies and boss designs, but the story is very cliche and not very original or interesting. The game does have a nice feature which I wished more games came with and that is the ability to turn the story mode off. Simply go into the options at any time and turn off the story to have no more interruptions and get into the midst of the action much faster. The game, while on PC, does have gamepad support and I highly recommend using one as the controls just feel perfect for a gamepad. I played the game with my USB XBox controller and the controls were tight and very responsive. You will also need a gamepad if you wish to play the local co-op mode that it comes with, so if you want a buddy to join in the fray you will need to acquire a few of them anyway.
As of this writing Valkyrius has not been given a release date or price yet, the game has a page at Steam Greenlight so it can gain a nice wide PC launch but it has been recently announced that it will be published by Green Man Gaming. No other dates or info has been announced but voting is still open on Greenlight and I would advise each and every available person to vote for this great game. I would highly recommend picking up this game once it launches. Iridescent Games have a great and amazing game and I wish them the best of luck at launch.
This game was reviewed using a copy provided by the developer for that purpose.
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