Review: Valhalla Hills – Definitive Edition (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Valhalla Hills – Definitive Edition
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (880.7 MB)
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Kalypso Media / Daedalic Entertainment
Developer: Funatics Software GmbH
Original MSRP: $39.99 (US), €39.99 (EU), £29.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
The objective of this game is to get the Vikings to Valhalla by reaching portals atop of hills of progressively steeper ascents. With an increasing amount of enemies guarding the exit, like wolves and ice guards equipped with bows and axes, you will have to either gather an army or give offerings.

Now there aren’t any virgins to throw to their death instead, you will have to sacrifice commodities such as wood and flint. This happens slowly over time as the assigned Viking gathers up the required goods, so you basically sit back and wait.

Valhalla Hills – Definitive Edition lets you either jump straight into the deep end or gradually ease in with some tutorial levels. The descriptions for each scenario can sometimes be unclear and somewhat vague in their requirements and some players might struggle to realize what needs to be done.

I put this to the test and asked a few other people to try the first few levels. Two people kept playing the first and second areas for much longer than they needed. After prompting them to simply click on the level portal and then the ‘leave area’ button, things became clear.

The game is also vague when informing the player of the building’s boundaries and one player was stuck with unarmed Vikings at the camp because it was too far from the Toolmaker. You can increase the radius for buildings by adding footpaths but that does not count for warrior camps, as they do not leave their camp.

The Vikings are quite stupid and will often leisurely stroll into danger. They can defend themselves but will run away if they are wounded too much. I have seen a Viking named Thor, get a bit peckish and so walk by a savage wolf in an attempt to get some berries from a bush further up the hill. It was as if the wolf and myself were both perplexed by the docile Viking who seemed oblivious to the danger.

A tombstone appeared where Thor died and the wolf proceeded to attack more of the village. After the savage assault, the land was littered with tombstones and pieces of meat where the Vikings had finally managed to kill the beast.

You cannot pick up a Viking with a gigantic hand or even give them orders. All you do is give the placements of buildings and pathways and the Vikings try to do the rest. So when playing Valhalla Hills you don’t feel like a God but more of a village planner.

… the desire to persevere quickly fades and the repetition sets in …
I know this genre has been around for a long time in various guises but the action feels very detached with this game and in that regard, a little boring. When the map sizes increase and the suitable land for development becomes quite sparse, things do get a little interesting.

There are plenty of building types to construct and if you want some strong Vikings with good weapons, you will have to supply them with food, ale, and an armory. This means you will have to build plenty of associated businesses to get everything running. To make sure they have a supply of bread, for example, you will need a wheat farm, mill, and a bakery.

The flimsy and extremely brief story just about explains the reason for doing the same thing repeatedly in each randomly generated map. However, the desire to persevere quickly fades and the repetition sets in.

Visuals:
The game looks nice though not spectacular and in some ways, quite basic. I like that Vikings without the tools to chop down a tree will use their bare hands. With several hits the tree topples in a small flurry of leaves. I know what you’re thinking, how can they chop down a tree but struggle to kill a lone wolf? I have no idea.

You can adjust the camera to get up close to the action or pan back to see the entire island but only turn a few degrees to either side, which feels mildly restrictive. Trees and buildings will often obscure the approach of an enemy but with no control over the Vikings themselves, it doesn’t really matter all that much.

… only the map size and type changes, everything else remains the same …
Audio:
Aside from the short introductory scene, there is no voice work, apart from incoherent chatter from the lazy Vikings as they stand around the campfire, probably discussing how much they like the berries from deep in wolf territory.

Music is passable and the sound effects are mediocre. I quickly became tired of hearing the buzz of the sawmill and clank of the toolmaker and opted to turn down the audio and replace it with my own music.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is one player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Valhalla Hills is a good game for those of you who enjoy village planning and witnessing the slaughter of dimwitted Vikings. The game falls into a repetitive slog as only the map size and type changes, everything else remains the same. With no story or random events to fill the monotony the appeal quickly fades away.

Score:
5.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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