Valdis Story: Abyssal  City – Review
Follow Genre: Side Scrolling Action Adventure
Developed & Published: EndlessFluff Games
Release Date: 10/30/2013

Valdis Story: Abyssal City – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Visceral Combat, Fleshed Out Storyline, Tight Controls
Bad: Somewhat short
User Score
9.8
(6 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.8/10 (6 votes cast)

Metroidvania aficionados rejoice, the genre is not dead! Valdis Story: Abyssal city is a good, solid reminder of why both Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter are some of the best things to happen to gaming in recent memory.

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Story

Taking place in an underwater city beneath the ocean, Valdis puts you in the shoes of Wyatt; a grumpy, sullen youth in the traditional RPG fashion, who finds himself caught in a long war of attrition between angels and demons. Having been separated from your crew & friends when your ship sank, you are tasked with putting your merry band back together all the while trying to discover the true reasons behind the invasion of Valdis.

While the plot might be initially construed as bland and generic, the game developers in this case have gone at great lengths to ensure that the story is fleshed-out and interesting. Not everything is as it seems; the angels are not your average do-gooders and you ‘ll pretty soon take as much pleasure in killing them as you will the countless demons that choose to make Valdis their home. Humans are viewed as nothing more but empty vessels for angels and demons; expendable cannon-fodder to fill the trenches. The game tries its hardest not to draw any clear distinction between the two factions; there is a strong anti-war message at play here and one helps to wonder if the writers weren’t inspired by the first world war in some regard.

Making your way through the city, you ‘ll come across small villages where the last vestiges of humanity try to live out their last days. There is a plethora of characters to meet and people to recruit and although none are as memorable as the main characters themselves, there is potential here for growth.

(At this point it stands to mention that currently the game supports two different playable  characters, Wyatt and his crew-mate Reina, however the devs have pledged to adding more playable characters as time goes on and judging by the updates the game has had so far, this seems likely to be the case ).

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Graphics

Taking obvious ques from Japanese animation, the game eschews the traditional western art-direction for a more “anime” look to it. The characters and backgrounds are wonderfully drawn with attention to detail and the animations themselves are superb. The background itself is far from static and you might find yourself taking a break from combat to just stare at your screen. Having said that, the graphic options are a bit on the short side but nothing that would overly annoy or take away from the experience. Finally, the game should run on all but the oldest of machines, seeing as the graphical requirements are on the lower end of the spectrum.

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Sound 

Here we have a nice mix between the soothing and at times melancholic melodies that play out of combat in towns and the power-metal guitar riffs that get your blood pumping as soon as the fighting erupts. The soundtrack is rather fitting, especially when fighting bosses, the music gets your adrenaline pumping and it puts you in the right mood to deliver a righteous dose of ass-kickin’.

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Gameplay

Staying true to the genre, Valdis is equal parts platforming, exploring and combat with the occasional puzzle added in for good effect. While all the elements are well balanced, the combat were the game really shines. With an assortment of diverse playstyles, weapons and abilities you keep coming back, each time feeling as if you ‘re playing a different game. Combat has a high-skill cap and even though its easy to learn, bosses in higher difficulties have no qualms about opening several different cans of whoop-ass on your poor character.  Having said that, experience does play a role here. When you start you feel weak and hopeless and beating early bosses is an achievement that will leave you panting (Thank God for the “Retry” mechanic that simply spawns you in the boss room after you die ) but you will soon grow to be an unstoppable engine of destruction chaining combos and avoiding skillshots as if the controller is no more than an extension of your hand.

(A word to the wise while we ‘re at it, the game “can” theoretically be played on a keyboard, however I would highly advise you not to, unless you ‘re up for a challenge.If all else fails and the game ain’t hard enough for you on Godslayer mode, you can always try playing with one hand tied behind your back.)

And you do get stronger as time goes by; you gain experience from killing monsters and for beating boss battles, the usual case being that the more stylish the kill and consecutively the greater the number of your combo score, the higher the xp reward. In case of boss battles, you actually get rewarded with stat increases for having a high rank at the end; a combination of time, lost health and number of attacks. This is  an opportunity that you ‘re ill afford to lose, especially when playing on the hardest difficulty; you ‘ll need every bit of help you can get. Leveling up rewards you with stat points and talent points, both of which you can use to customize your character and playstyle.

You can customize your character in several different ways, be it a focus on a high crit chance, a build focused on maximizing hp or you can even attempt to go for a pure caster. Adding to that is a plethora of weapons, combat styles, spell-schools and armors that can even go as far as to modify the whole way you approach combat. The number of different options here are quite varied, though, personally speaking I wouldn’t mind if the different armors actually changed the look of your character. While your skills and weapons change, your character model remains the same throughout the game, it doesn’t help to signify the change you ‘re bound to go through; from being a total-wimp all the way to total-badassery and parts beyond.

On a sour note the game is unfortunately rather short, taking anywhere from two to three days for your first playthrough depending on your playing style. There are tons of things to unlock though and many, many reasons to backtrack during the campaign ( staying true to the Metroidvania genre ) in the form of different crew members you can unlock to help you with combat/crafting, alternative weapons and finishing moves and even hidden bosses that will turn you into a blood-soaked stain on the dungeon floor the first dozen times you attempt to fight them.

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On my playthrough I clocked around 6 hours played using the in-game timer but you ‘d have to double that to account for all the deaths you ‘ll be going through in the hands of the bosses (and trust me, you will ). There are a good many reasons to keep you coming back though, be it the many achievements you can unlock (one actually has you finishing the game in under 2 hours, best of luck to those willing to try) , the higher difficulty ratings or even the option of swapping out your character and  preferred playstyle and experiencing the game all anew. The developers of the game have promised new content upgrades and new characters yet to come and with the success the game is experiencing we ‘re certain to be seeing more of Valdis

Conclusion

Personally, I recommend it wholeheartedly, especially to the fans of the genre. It might not be the longest of games but as far as value for your money is concerned, you can’t really go wrong with this title.

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Rating: 9.8/10 (6 votes cast)
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Valdis Story: Abyssal City - Review, 9.8 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
ModernDayCourtJester
ModernDayCourtJester


A late-twenties old soul stuck in limbo playing videogames; could be worse.

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