Valhalla Hills on PS4 – The DVDfever Review

Valhalla Hills

Valhalla Hills, the new game from Funatics, did make it to PC at the back end of 2015. Now, just over a year later, the Viking city builder has been ported to both the Xbox One and PS4 and includes both DLC packs Sands of the Damned & Fire Mountains.

Much like their earlier 2001 game, Cultures and the sequels, you must build a town on each level and meet certain objectives to move forward and onto victory.

The story side of things gives you a brief introduction and literally sets you off on your way to Valhalla. You play Leko – who is Odin’s son – cast down to Earth for not following in your father’s footsteps being a warrior, so you have to put your skills as a city builder to good use and lead a band of Vikings to Valhalla. That is literally it; there are no between-level cutscenes pushing the story forward or any other narration!

The whole thing with Valhalla Hills is in the name. Each level is procedurally-generated, and the game does learn from what you are doing and creates levels to challenge your personal play style. Each level is a hill, as such, with a portal at the top, hence the name! From here, you get a small band of Vikings dropped into said level for you to setup a city and supply chain before opening the portal and moving onto the next level.

Of course building the city comes with numerous challenges: when placing buildings, you need to be strategic. Try placing them in the green grid, since if you place outside, you’ll find it uses more resources and either takes an age to build or just won’t get built at all. From the off, you need a few huts for your Vikings to sleep in, plus a woodcutters hut near a forest, and so on. Each level follows the same formula, but as you progress, you will unlock extra buildings like war camps, fishing huts, hunters huts and numerous other amenities to keep your Vikings fed and fighting fit.

Whilst building these towns, you need to carefully place roads to keep your Vikings on track so they travel from A to B to get tasks done. Letting them aimlessly wander around will see them stopping and having a chat or arriving at a structure that needs building, and not actually doing anything, then going on their merry way which can be a bit frustrating at times (DVDfever Dom adds: Reminds me of certain people where I work!)


Valhalla Hills Gameplay #1 – Gondor Calls For Aid – Slywise Studios


To complete a level, you’ll have to either offer a sacrifice to the altar or kill the enemies released once you’ve opened the portal. After the first few levels, you’ll see some Ice Vikings in certain areas of the map which are just put there to hinder your progress. Later on though, the enemies dotted round the area become stronger. The same can be said of the enemies which emerge from the portal. Once again, this makes placing buildings and war camps all the more important.

The graphics on Valhalla Hills are powered by Unreal Engine 4 and have some nice looking effects during battles and from the Ice Vikings, along with other monsters you’ll come across. There’s a full day and night cycle that looks great, with torches glowing in the dark, and mist that hides areas of the map, much like the Fog of War you get on other RTS titles. If you zoom in to watch battles, the animation and characters look nice up close and personal. In addition to the zoom-in, you have full camera control from rotating on both axes to freely moving around.

The DLC itself – incorporated into the console releases – have new mountain types and enemies: Fire Mountains sees landscapes with volcanoes and lava, with less greenery which represents new challenges; Sands of the Damned sees your Vikings in the desert with few trees and little water, presenting even more new challenges. Both DLC have new enemy types like scorpions and mummies etc.

If you wish when starting out, you can either go level by level unlocking new items the further you progress into the game, plus there is also another option where everything is already unlocked, but the difficulty is quite high from the off. I would suggest playing the story levels before going for the more open approach to get used to how things work.


Valhalla Hills #1 – PS4 Pro-Live – PS4 Arcticore


I have to admit I have enjoyed my time with Valhalla Hills. There is some great humour and it looks really nice. Each level represents its own challenges and at times you’ll find yourself restarting a level numerous times due to a challenging layout, trying to get the balance right to conquer it. It’s great for a short game of something if you are busy, or you can easily plough hours into it without realising!

I would have liked to see a tutorial before starting on how to upgrade weapons and optimal placement of buildings etc., since it does feel like you get dropped in at the proverbial deep end from the get go. I don’t like the fact you don’t have direct control of any of your Vikings; when your fledgling town is being attacked by roaming enemies, you can’t just select your military Vikings and set them off to defend against them. The enemies have to actually venture into the zone covered by said military before they” get involved. This rather reminded me of trying to get your people out of houses on the classic Populous to build more houses and expand the population. The only other gripe I have is that you have to do the same from scratch on each level, so when you’ve put many hours into the game, the repetition can occasionally become a little tedious.

The game is fun and can be quite addictive, but it is nice to see a new RTS game on the consoles that is a bit different,. Granted a bit more control over the characters would have been nice, but it doesn’t detract from the overall fun.

Valhalla Hills is out now PS4, Xbox One and PC/Steam, and click on the packshot for the full-size version.


Valhalla Hills PS4 Definitive Edition Announcement Trailer – PlayStation EU


Important info:

  • Publisher: Kalypso Media
  • Players: single player-only

GRAPHICS
SOUND
GAMEPLAY
ENJOYMENT
9
7
7
7
OVERALL 7.5

Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!
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