Valhalla Knights 2

October 28, 2008

Valhalla Knights 2 took the standard RPG checklist and made sure to check off absolutely none of the items listed under “requirements.” Combat is dull where is should be visceral. Dungeon design is bland where it should be interesting. It is easy to get lost because there isn’t a competent map system to aid the player. Lots of time is spent traipsing from town to dungeons because teleport spells only work one way and only one quest can be taken at a time. And the whole experience is dull because where there ought to be a gripping story there is a tacked-on excuse to go dungeon-crawling.

The story is light. Years ago two factions warred, and now you have taken up with one side. In order to win you’ll need to clean out dungeons. A tacked-on story is forgivable when combat mechanics are interesting and enemy design is high caliber like Monster Hunter 2 Freedom. Melee combat works well enough but boils down to “run up to enemy, mash attack button.” Playing a caster should be more interesting and strategic, but battles are so frantic and spells are buried under so many menus that you’ll spend more time dead than not. Thankfully, you’re not in this alone. You directly control one character (a warrior type if you want to live) and allow the AI to control up to five teammates. Your soldiers will follow orders and preset behaviors well so it’s in your best interest to set up a healer and an offensive caster for the AI to control since AI friendlies can bypass the menu system and fire off a heal spell much faster than you ever could. Since everything is so fast there is little time for strategy which just makes the entire affair seem generic and shallow. If combat were slowed down Valhalla Knights 2 could be a very strategic game, but as is there’s just not time to think about what you’re doing.

Valhalla Knights eschews fast travel to locations you’ve already visited for a more traditional “you’ll walk there and you’ll like it” system. The argument “it adds to realism” could be made, but I don’t play RPGs for realism. I play them for fun, and it’s just not fun to walk past the same location time and time again because your teleport spell only works one way. It shouldn’t be hard to keep a bi-directional portal open, even if it closes after the second use. You’ll also get lost a lot because the in-game map is very zoomed in, and you can’t pull it out enough to really get a good idea where you’re going. If you’re going to have to walk the very least Valhalla Knights 2 could do is supply you with a decent map. Sadly, all you’ve got is – maybe – a 20 foot radius around your current position.

Valhalla Knights 2 isn’t particularly pretty to look at either. This, again, could be overlooked if the combat were fun, but when added to shallow, uninteresting combat bland dungeons and low-res monsters are all the more noticeable. There’s really no reason to pick up Valhalla Knights 2. It will frustrate you because it’s maddening to see a game fail so spectacularly when with just a few tweaks it could be fun.

ESRB: E10+ for Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Mild Language, Violence – if Monster Hunter 2 and Final Fantasy are okay then Valhalla Knights is appropriate
Pros: AI teammates obey orders
: Shallow combat, no fast travel, bad map, impossible to effectively play non-melee characters
Plays Like: any number of dungeon crawlers, but less fun

Score: 2/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.