10th Sep2015

‘Valhalla Hills’ Early Access Preview (PC)

by Paul Metcalf

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When Vikings die an honourable death, they expect to be welcomed into Valhalla in celebration of their glories. When the gates are closed though, what are they to do? Prove their worth on Valhalla Hills.

An Early Access game, Valhalla Hills will be recognisable for Settlers fans for the style of play it offers. The main aim is to settle Vikings falling from the heavens on a small island, gathering resources, and building up forces to be able to take over the portal, which will take them to the next step to Valhalla. Or you could take the more boring path of appeasing the Gods with offerings, but I’d rather battle.

With procedurally created Vikings and islands, every time an island is created a new challenge awaits. Resources are easily found, though initially there are few buildings that can be unlocked. The placing of these buildings become important to gather as many resources as possible. The more you play and the more unlockable items become available the more complex and intriguing the game becomes.

While the main useful unlockable items are the new buildings, bigger islands and more dangerous creatures and animals are also unlocked, creating more of a dangerous environment. This helps keep the game interesting and keeps you invested in actually coming back to play some more. With this being Early Access there is still a lot of development needed for the game.

Funatics Software don’t hide the fact that Valhalla Hills is still deep in development, and they are planning to release the game in early 2016. What you realise as you are playing is that there are issues with the game, and certain areas that do need work on. Right now for example there is a soft approach as to how you control the Vikings and what they do in the world. If anything, the gamer needs to feel that they have more control. This will obviously be worked on and improved, as will balancing of the battles.

While there are some negative issues with the Early Access stage of the game, the positives do tend to outweigh these. With the use of the Unreal 4 Engine the cartoonish world of Valhalla is pretty, and its often fun watching the Vikings going through their daily lives. You often find yourself watching them gather resources as you wait for the right time to open the portal that will take you onto the next island.

For fans of Settlers, and fans of similar strategy games Valhalla Hills even in Early Access is a game that is well worth a look. While this is a preview of the game rather than a review there is enough game on display here to give the gamer a good taste of what to expect, with enough randomisation from the procedurally generated islands to make sure that things never get old. The more you play the more you unlock, and more complicated the islands become. I’m sure there are more good things to come for Valhalla Hills.

There is an argument that it may be worth holding off for a while until Valhalla Hills is actually released, but I’m not sure I agree fully with that. Yes, there are times that certain things do feel a little basic but that is the nature of Early Access. As the game is updated and features are added, this has to be one strategy game to keep an eye on.

Valhalla Hills is available on the PC through Steam Early Access now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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