Valley’s run-and-jump gameplay is a whole lot of fun when you’re going fast, but the moment it slows you down it’s dull and annoying. Over its four hours this happens far too often: to expose you to a storyline that has no stakes or stakeholders, to explore its colorful but empty world, or to fight painfully repetitive battles. It’s hard to get invested when there’s little to care about, and the gameplay never provides any of the addictive challenge it really needs.
Video games that nail the act of movement often allow you to flow freely and come down from a sprint naturally. Blue Isle Studios’ Valley lets you build up exhilarating momentum while you sprint and leap through forests and fields, but your pace is too often interrupted, and trying to get back to that high level of speed takes longer than it should.
The titular valley is home to friendly, pint-sized sprites, but it also houses two types of hostile entities: swarms of insects and a wizard-like creature. When you’re engaged in combat with these foes, it feels more like you’re casting magic as opposed to firing a gun, because you shoot out balls of energy to kill enemies. It’s initially satisfying when you take several shots in rapid succession and hit your intended targets, but repetitive enemy behavior and animations lead to diminishing returns over time.
There are times when you’re able to move at top speed and revel in the thrill of flying through the air while the environment around you whips by in a blur. However, the L.E.A.F. suit is too easily slowed by basic obstacles and hills. The suit’s Magnetic Core ability also forces you to slow down to traverse metallic surfaces on occasion, an unfortunate shift in a game that’s built for speed. Valley shines when you’re charging forward, but it too often holds you back from going as fast as you’d like.
If you happen to die during combat or from a poorly planned leap, you respawn, but life in the valley takes a toll as nature–once verdant–fades and shrivels around you. Once it’s drained, your game is over. However, it’s not something you need to worry about; a few rejuvenating blasts from your suit is all it takes to revive dead plants and animals to keep your journey going. And as long as you don’t fall off any cliffs or into significant bodies of water, it’s unlikely that you’ll die in the first place. Your life and ammunition both come from the same pool, and you regularly find orbs and power generators scattered across the environment. There’s little at stake, and it’s rare that you’ll find cause for concern to begin with.
Valley‘s multiple environments are generally good-looking and varied, with wide open spaces, claustrophobic underground caves, and industrial areas. With the wind at your back, it can be a fun world to play around in that’s occasionally captivating to behold, and certain sections, particularly when you get the ability to run on water, feel momentous and exciting. Sadly, Valley occasionally suffers from framerate drops on consoles during hectic scenes, where the PC version proves far more stable. It never drops low enough to the point where it renders the game unplayable, but it’s still disappointing when it happens.
In moments of immense speed, Valley’s basic first-person platforming creates some excitement. But those are just moments, and they’re spaced too far apart with empty environments and forgettable combat between them. There are some interesting ideas scattered throughout the world but they’re very hard to care about, since there’s nobody around to be influenced by your actions. A seemingly pointless resource management system presents some interesting aesthetics, but overall, Valley very rarely presents the challenge or consequence it really needs to be addictive.
Valley feels like a good first act. Despite obstacles that tend to abruptly kill your momentum, running and bounding through wilderness remained exciting. The world’s history is so intriguing that I left wanting to know more. I didn’t want the adventure to end, and like a jogger who’s forced to slow down in the middle of a run, I was frustrated that Valley had to end so soon after it began.
Video Game Valley Review :
User Rating :
– The Good:
+ Fast and fluid movement
+ Intriguing story
+ Attractive aesthetic
– The Bad:
+ Momentum is easily killed
+ Too short
+ Simple combat
Mark : 6
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