Thursday, January 3

Review: Xenon Valkyrie+ [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Roguelikes and pixel art have become real indie game staples, and the combination of them typically appeals to me since that often gives games an arcade-like feel. The key to it all working is having a great flow and balance to things, something that unfortunately Xenon Valkyrie+ just doesn’t quite put together. While the game can be enjoyable in bursts it is simply a bit too muddled visually and plays a bit too sloppy to really meet its potential.

Starting with the positive there are some decent bones here, though decidedly on the simpler side. The action is pretty quick and light, your three base characters you can choose from have some slightly different attributes to try out, and the procedural level design keeps it from always feeling like the same thing every time. The game really leans into the roguelike aspect, as the opportunities to acquire new weapons will vary pretty wildly as will what you end up getting.

Where it falls down a bit is roughly everything else as strange choices become apparent in a few key places. The first irritation is the boss battles that neuter your character completely, I suppose to make them more challenging. While you may have a handy blaster you can use on normal enemies, as well as some secondary abilities that can include weapons like a grenade, when you face a boss without an explanation all you’ll find you can use is your sword. This and the pretty crazy damage bosses will do with even a single hit and it’s a bit annoying and discouraging. Another issue is the somewhat sloppy controls when trying to maneuver around or swing your sword against an enemy in close quarters. You can figure everything out and get used to things but it just doesn’t feel very refined. The last issue I have is really that it all gets to be a bit repetitive and never particularly fun. It’s a game, you can try to get good enough to beat it, but it’s simply not very compelling given its competition on the system.

If you’re really interested in a more minimalist take on roguelikes you may find Xenon Valkyrie+ to your liking. Just understand that it’s very much a no-frills experience that has issues with balance and variety, never really feeling like it nails any particular aspect completely. In general, I’d say you’d be better served finding one of the many better alternatives in the genre on the system.

Score: 5

  • Not too much to know, just jump in and get as far as you can
  • A budget price

  • Losing the majority of your abilities in boss fights is annoying and feels like lazy design
  • The controls can be a bit loose and inaccurate
  • Lacking in several areas compared to its contemporaries on the system