14th Jun2018

‘Die For Valhalla!’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts


Die For Valhalla! Is a 2.5D side-scrolling brawler that’s available on PC and all modern consoles (I played the Switch version for this review). The developer, Monster Couch, has managed to make a game that works both in single and multiplayer modes (up to four players locally) which is an achievement in a genre that can sometimes feel bland when played alone.

The game is set in Viking times, an era full of the worship of battle and glory in a land filled with heavily bearded men frowning into their mead and screaming war cries. Taking a supernatural angle, Die For Valhalla! puts you in control of a spectral Valkyrie who has the ability to re-animate fallen warriors (and even inanimate objects) as she aims to fulfil her quest in stopping The Great Old One from taking over the world.

With a slightly cartoonish graphical style and game play reminiscent of Castle Crashers, Die For Valhalla! takes the side-scrolling brawler genre and adds some light RPG elements and clever touches to add depth and variety to the proceedings. As you can take over fallen Vikings (these are scattered under headstones across the map)  which have different attacks and specials, you can add this extra level of strategy to the usual button-bashing mayhem that takes place as you work your way across the over-world map. The main characters are either a sword and shield wielding warrior, an archer or a double-axe swiping berserker. Each has different modes of attack and their own special moves (the archer, for example can lay traps whereas the berserker has a diving head-butt) plus, there are some other types of warrior that pop up in specific levels that can really change the tide, especially  in the boss areas. Whilst the aims in the levels follow the same formula, smash your way through all the enemies whilst moving left to right, the ability to switch characters (even sacrificing them to cause an explosion if you want to change before they naturally expire) and possess explosive barrels (hopping them near an enemy before blowing them up is always a winner) adds a surprising amount of value to the game.

In-between levels you can spend all the glory that you’ve accumulated on bonuses and upgrades to your attack, defence, shield and mana, this is where the RPG elements come in and what I liked was how palpable these perks felt in-game, I genuinely felt like I was getting stronger and making progress.

The enemies in Die For Valhalla! also come in different shapes and sizes with archers, trappers and larger opponents with bone-crushing attacks all lining up to have their chance at divorcing your limbs from your body. In four player mode, the action can get frantic but always feels fun and whilst the game isn’t a revelation, it does have enough nuance and variety to keep the interest and energy levels up. I played the game single player for a couple of hours as well and the levelling up, charm and different characters made the game a joy to play even alone, which is something that the genre can struggle with.

I had a lot of fun with Die For Valhalla! and the sense of humour running through the game suits the breezy game play well. Aside from the issue of bland backgrounds, samey level layouts and standard music, it runs smoothly and the option for four-player local co-op action adds length to its shelf-life. It’s not a game that you’ll spend dozens of hours on but for fans of the genre, it’s a very solid title with some interesting touches that definitely make it worth a purchase.

Right, I’m off to frown at a tarnished axe.


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