An Indie Darling: Project Xenon Valkyrie+ Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - December 19, 2017
An Indie Darling: Project Xenon Valkyrie+ Review

The Vita certainly is a strange beast. Every time it seems like the little handheld is on its last leg, a title comes out of nowhere and proves the Vita has a lot of life left in it. Despite the lack of support from major developers or Sony itself, smaller publishers and the indie scene have kept the games coming to the Vita throughout 2017 with more coming over the next year, fans of the handheld have little to worry about. However, before we close the book on 2017, we have one more surprise for the PSVita in the form of Project Xenon Valkyrie+ from Cowcat Games and Diabolical Mind.

Embracing its retro ascetic from the onset, Project Xenon Valkyrie+’s story is summed up in a brief cutscene that happens upon booting up the game. While this optional cutscene doesn’t do much to inspire the player with a brilliant story, Xenon Valkyrie manages to expand an otherwise generic tale of darkness engulfing a peaceful world through the use of the game’s NPC. This allows the player to get as much or as little of the story as they wish.

I enjoy this take on storytelling, especially for a game in this retro style, as it allows players who simply want to play the game the option to ignore a bulk of the world building and enjoy the game, while giving those who are more interested in the storytelling something to sink their teeth into.

Xenon Valkyrie has the privilege of offering an odd combination of genres as a 2D rouge-like, action-platformer with RPG elements. Once you start the game, you’ll be given the option of one of three characters to play as. Each character has slightly different starting attributes and weapons and each has their own special ability. The game doesn’t give you much to go on with any of these characters, however, tasking the player with trying each of them individually to see which best fits their playstyle. I personally enjoyed using Eloen, as I found her ability to use explosives much more useful than either Nue or Renna’s ability.

Being a rogue-like title, it’s important that you know going in that Xenon Valkyrie isn’t going to hold your hand. When you die, your character loses all of their levels and equipment, but unlike games like Dark Souls, in Xenon Valkyrie there is no reclaiming your lost gear, so in this game death is permanent. While this may sound like a detriment, I found this aspect of Xenon Valkyrie to be the most engaging. With stages being randomly generated, revisiting levels never felt boring, and since equipment you find is randomized as well it was always great to see just how far I could go after finding a new weapon that was more powerful than what I had previously.

Thankfully, even with permadeath, you aren’t forced to start over each time. After boss fights, you are able to activate a teleporter (as long as you have the proper items) and this allows you to jump between stages instead of playing over again from the start each time. Thankfully, doing this also gives you talent points to distribute to your stats, meaning that even jumping into a later stage at level 1 won’t mean that you’ll be dying immediately.

Despite this, I found myself starting from the first stage more often than not, as the allure of finding new equipment and facing different bosses each time was something that was too strong for me to ignore. Additionally, leveling up this way felt much more beneficial than simply taking the talent points from using the teleporter, though that was likely just my imagination.

As I mentioned previously, Xenon Valkyrie embraces its retro style and that shows through in its presentation. The sprite work is fantastic, despite their small size, and there’s some fantastic artwork to be seeing throughout the game. Sprites may be small, but this allows for you to see more of the stage as you make your way through the game, giving you a better idea of what is coming ahead, which helps in a game with permanent death this one.

I’d also be doing a disservice to the game and it’s presentation if I didn’t mention the stellar soundtrack by Giorgiost. His music is very well done and feels like it’s straight out of something I would have played on the NES or Game Boy. The quality of the sound design alone really shows how much love was put into Xenon Valkyrie, and thankfully, the music is available through a number of means online for those, like myself, who have fallen in love with the game’s phenomenal audio package.

Project Xenon Valkyie+ is an absolute delight and has given me something few games this year have offered me, a sense of accomplishment. Due to the nature of the game, finishing a difficult level or boss fight made me feel like I had improved and gave me a true feeling of progression in the game. While I understand that Xenon Valkyrie isn’t going to appeal to everyone, especially with its permadeath and the inherent difficulty that such a mechanic brings. However, if you’re willing to look beyond that, then Project Xenon Valkyrie+ is a fantastic indie title for the PSVita. It’s clear that a lot of love went into this game, and the team responsible should be proud to have brought such an incredible title to Sony’s handheld.

This post was written by
He is a senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A seasoned gamer, Zach has been playing video games since the early 90s and have owned everything from the NES to the Xbox One. Aside from video games, Zach is a nerd of all trades and dabbles in everything from collectible card games to Gunpla.
Comments are closed.