Valhalla Knights is a name that hearkens images of warriors and castles, lords and ladies, chivalry and evil, monsters and magic. Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga spins an epic tale of the Eldar Region, a land plagued by monsters for a thousand years. One hero, the man destined to reunite the four races — dwarves, elves, halflings and men — is your character in this story. Hired by a young man, who is bound to a wheelchair because of a deadly illness and who is a descendant of a long line of mages, your quest is to gather the “Star Fragments.” These fragments are pieces from a great meteor shower hundreds of years ago that spawned monsters throughout Eldar.
Thus begins your journey to collect these pieces and rekindle friendships between the races of the world.
When you first create a game file, you can select the face, hair style, hair color and voice for your hero. Then you give him a name and a job, choosing from a fighter, thief, bard, mage or priest. The game system is a dungeon-crawler: You roam about large, open maps that have all kinds of treasure hidden about and plenty of monsters to fight. The combat takes place in real-time; get near an enemy, and they will attack you. You have various attacks and combos to fight with. It works like a combination of fighting and turn-based strategy games. Once you enter a township, you leave combat mode and can walk around, talk to people, buy items and repair weapons. This gives the game a segmented feel. When out and about, you have to fight your way to a new location. When in a town, things calm down, and the story continues.
Valhalla Knights gives you a large variety of stats and attributes. Well, large is a bit of an understatement. Your character has seven base stats: strength, vitality, intelligence, resistance, speed, dexterity and luck. In addition to these, you have 22 other attributes, such as right-handed attack power, magical defense, hit rate, evade rate and more. This means that you have a lot to think about when you are adding stat points to your character. You gain stat points and skill points from gaining levels. Like most role-playing games, you gain experience from killing monsters. Once you gain enough experience, your character will level up and gain new abilities. Your stat points boost your seven basic attributes, and skill points boost your innate skills that come from being part of a particular job.
Sound complex? It is. The learning curve for this game is about two hours, which does seem pretty steep. The only real drawback to Valhalla Knights is that it takes a LONG time to learn. Given the lack of in-game instructions, I highly suggest using the instruction manual and finding an online guide. I don’t mean finding a one-stop source for beating the whole game and ruining it for yourself; just find a tutorial on how to get started, because otherwise you’ll miss a lot of the game’s features.
Once you get past this, though, Valhalla Knights picks up pace quickly. The story unfolds through player dialogue, and through extra sidequests that you can take on to gain gold and items. Between each assignment for looking for “Star Fragments,” you have the option of completing these quests, signing up for them at a local guild. Eventually, a guild will spring up in each town you encounter, making it easier to do questing. This adds a bit of an extra element to the main story, each quest giving you a look inside the lives of the characters around you.
Speaking of the story, Valhalla Knights is very detailed. The characters are interesting, the plot dense and locations feel very authentic. However, a story doesn’t always make a game. This game does have some problems.
The graphics look like a throwback from a poor Gamecube game, with many 2-D textures and sprites. The visuals look grainy, and the color scheme is very poor; it reminded me of a computer run in 16-bit color. Odd colors appear in smoke or fire and other effects, like shades of purple or blue that just are not meant to be there. The sound effects are also very obtrusive and do not blend with the game at all.
However, this doesn’t undo all of the good work that developers have put into Valhalla Knights. It still has solid gameplay, lots of options and a satisfying story. It provides a lot of play time. I have spent perhaps 15 hours with the game and have a good ways to go. The customization in Valhalla Knights also lends it to be played over and over, rather than just giving the game one run through and putting it back on the shelf.
So, whether you’re battling demons, giants, orcs and kobolds or liberating an overrun town from monsters, Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga delivers. You will find yourself immersed in a medieval world of monsters and magic, putting you in control of your avatar and the events around you. This game really doesn’t look that visually appealing, but aside from a few other quirks, this is your main obstacle. If you can get past that, you’re in for some fun. Buying this game would put your money to good use, although this type of game is a bit of an acquired taste, so find a way to preview Valhalla Knights first — rent it or borrow it.