Valhalla Knights 3 Review
I was originally supposed to review this game before Christmas, but the holiday rush and onslaught of new games forced me to push it to the back burner for a little while. It's the end of January now, Super Mario 3D World is 100 percent complete and we are STILL waiting on the Pokemon Bank, so it was time to sit down and review XSEED's and K2's action-RPG Valhalla Knights 3. Maybe it is because I've been swamped with too many great games recently, but Valhalla Knights 3 seems like the biggest waste of a title in some time, especially considering how many parts of the whole could have been great with just a little more effort.
Let's start with the story. Valhalla Knights 3 does its very best to present a coherent swords and sorcery narrative, but it gets bogged down in the details. The game opens with a text-based intro to the events preceding the game (I never got to play Valhalla Knights 1 or 2, so this may have been a recap). This section is very long, very boring and throws out more details and minutiae than the first 100 pages of any of Tolkien's novels. Once this ends, you go through the standard create-a-character and dive in. The story picks up with you as a prisoner in some kind of underground colony, surrounded by other prisoners and two separate prisoner cities. By the time the game gets around to explaining all this, though, you'll be eagerly skipping dialogue for the opportunity to move your character a few feet and are forced to read more. Once you've slogged through the game's extra-long opener, you'll have your main quest - to discover some item that supposedly grants a wish. The Dragon Balls do the same thing, but even that series isn't as convoluted and drawn out as this. That is really saying something.
Going into the game armed with the knowledge that the series started on the PSP arms the player with the knowledge they need to quantify the graphics and sound - this looks like a midlevel PSP game, certainly not a Vita one. There are lots of browns and grays in the environment and the character models are undetailed and blocky. The limited choices in creating a character forewarn of the visual blahs, and the game keeps that promise nicely. The choppy, dated graphics make the game's touted "sexy time" mini game all the more awkward, but we will get there in a few minutes. On the bright side, the music and voice acting isn't too bad, so there is that, right?
Ugly, nonsensical games that play great can still be good games, but Valhalla Knights 3 doesn't, and isn't one of those cases. At its basest form, Valhalla Knights 3 works; you get missions, venture outside the prison and fulfill them. It's everything in between the setup and the execution that fails. Encountering enemies on the battlefield is a pain because though you can see them, walking up to them and hitting attack almost always doubles or triples the amount of foes you must deal with. Sure, you can have up to four warriors on your side, but for low-level warriors against a single opponent? Great. Four low-level warriors against nine opponents, eight of which just appear out of nowhere? Not so much.
The camera also works against the player. There is a lock-on (thank god), but the camera always remains situations at a downward-facing shoulder level. You can't see what is at your feet or very close to you, making smaller enemies invisible. Granted, this is only an issue in the first few hours, but later it becomes pickups that are obscured by your head and shoulders. Not once, during my entire time with the game, did I feel like the camera was in the right place to suit my needs.
Speaking of "needs," we have to talk about the distasteful "sexy time" mini games you'll have to play to succeed. I should have seen this coming when the game's character creator gave me more options in determining a female warrior's chest size than they did her face. To add party members, get items, power up and even visit certain places in-game, you'll have to visit a brothel in the game's hub and seduce prostitutes. Seriously. Giving them gifts gets them to sleep with you, and from there on it's a touchscreen nightmare to get out of them what you need. I thought the seduction in Killer is Dead was exploitative and gross; this leaves that game in the dust. What makes it so gross is that you absolutely must partake to progress in the game. I'm supposed to be using the Vita's touchscreen to wobble a low-resolution prostitute's boobs? Who is the audience for this kind of nonsense?!
Valhalla Knights feels like a broken single player MMO with bad graphics, a bad camera, weird spiking in challenge level and a story that is far too complicated to dive into. Oh, and it also has some extremely off-putting sexual content that somehow never feels sexual, just rape-y. Is that a word? I don't know; I just know that none of it was any fun. I kept playing for hours, waiting for the game to show me something I liked, but it never did. There are plenty of decent third-person action RPGs on the Vita already (the pretty good Ys: Memories of Celceta and the just OK Soul Sacrifice come to mind), and a few more on the horizon (Toukiden: The Age of Demons looks good). Those make purchasing this game a thing I can't recommend anyone doing. SO there you have it; a late review for a game not worth waiting for.
Final Rating: 45%. Ugly, dismal, and creepy.