Gamer on a Budget #13 – Valley
Reviewed by William LJ Galaini
Developer: Blue Isle Studios
Where: Steam, GoG, Nintendo Store, Epic Store, PlayStation Store
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox, PlayStation
Valley is a charming game that stretches its budget to deliver massive vistas, decent voice acting, and strong set pieces. Steeped in atmosphere and easy to get in and out of, it presents itself as a casual escape for a gamer who wants to feel a sense of blistering speed.
And regarding speed, this game delivers. Your character’s L.E.A.F. extensions and upgrades give you astounding mobility that surpasses anything I’ve experienced in a first person game. Blazing along electrified rails with wind whistling in your ears never gets old. Soaring across an entire lake after running down a mountain is truly delightful. The maps themselves remind me of the size and scope of Dark Forces II, Jedi Knight.
The atmosphere of the game also stands out. While not overtly unique, the tiny whispy ghosts bring charm. Additionally, the lighting is well done and restoring dead trees to life never gets old. The audiologs are aptly performed even if the player is bludgeoned by the story with ham-fisted writing immediately out of the gate. Sadly, you are a passenger in the story, learning of exciting events that occurred long before you. Little of this story feels earned by the player and it honestly lacks a compelling plot to engage.
But a mediocre story isn’t the worst of it. This game is easy. To a severe fault, even for a casual gamer. There are enemies to fight, but your resources are infinitely available and combat is… well, it is pathetic. There is ONE fight, a pseudo boss fight, with mechanics that actually tease at something engaging, but it is over within seconds and you never get to have your movement skills tested again.
The production of the game is strong with massive environments and smooth animations for waterfalls and stone doors. The overall lack of character models and accompanying animations is likely where the budget was kept low, however. The lighting is also lovely until a point, where the climate changes and then the game mistakes ‘getting dark’ for some kind of weather shift. The music is sparse, but it truly punches up the setting when it kicks in.
With a short amount of content (I beat it in a single evening, just under three hours), bland conflict, zero challenge, and mediocre story, the poor outweighs the good. But make no mistake, this game will do the one thing it set out to do really, really well: give you a sense of impossible speed.
Why you would buy it:
Astounding sense of speed
Great sound design
Fantastic movement controls
Why you would pass on it:
No real conflict or sense of threat
Anyone who wants a casual game with simple puzzling and platforming