Mayhem in Single Valley – Review
Follow Genre: Action-adventure game, puzzle game, platformer
Developer: Fluxscopic Ltd.
Publisher: tinyBuild
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Mayhem in Single Valley – Review

Site Score
Good: Plenty of secrets to discover
Bad: Lack of focus affects fundamental gameplay mechanics
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

As we continue our battle against the backlog, we’re once again looking at a game that was released a little while ago… back in 2021 actually. Granted, the specific port we’re looking at is slightly more recent, having appeared on consoles in late March of this year, but in video game time that’s still ages ago. Nevertheless, today we’re finally covering Mayhem in Single Valley, a pixelated action game sprinkled with puzzles. Was it worth digging this one up from our library or should it have been left gathering dust?


A tongue-in-cheek take on the classic trope of the hero’s journey, Mayhem in Single Valley introduces us to Jack, a young boy who is prone to bad luck. As is often the case in a video game, our protagonist always ends up in the worst possible scenario. In this case, that scenario is a zombie invasion that overruns the once-quiet town of Single Valley, at the behest of a mysterious shadowy figure. A glowing green liquid turns animals and citizens alike into zombies. The story that unfolds then is well-written and humorous, with plenty of fourth-wall-breaking meta jokes. It’s easily one of Mayhem in Single Valley’s highlights, even if it’s not exactly a high-brow or deep narrative.


In the past, we’ve mentioned that we’ve grown tired of pixel visuals, although there have been pleasant surprises that managed to break the mold, like Coffee Talk Episode 2 or Meg’s Monster. Unfortunately, Mayhem in Single Valley is not one of those surprises. The game looks fine for what it wants to be, but it isn’t going to impress anyone with its run-of-the-mill artwork.


It’s not often that a game lets you choose the music that you’d like to hear while playing, so we were pleasantly surprised by this fresh approach. Throughout the game, you’ll find cassette tapes that hold individual music tracks, and you can pick between tapes you’ve found to play as background music. The chiptune music and matching sound effects fit the game’s visual presentation, although the lack of voice acting hurts the appeal of the game somewhat since it’s so heavily story-driven.


While Mayhem in Single Valley is an ambitious undertaking in terms of gameplay, there are moments where developer Fluxscopic Ltd. seemingly dropped the ball or bit off more than they could chew. This is partially because the game lacks focus and relies on its humorous approach to mask some of its shortcomings. Mayhem in Single Valley’s gameplay formula is difficult to define, and subsequently, to explain. In a vacuum, it’s best described as a top-down action-adventure title, with some environmental puzzles to solve, but there is also platforming action going on. And survival elements. And combat that isn’t actually combat -but we’ll get back to that. When it comes to gameplay, Mayhem in Single Valley presents itself as a jack of all trades, but a master of none.

For what it’s worth, the game’s plethora of mechanics never feels overwhelming, as new elements are gradually introduced. Initially, Mayhem in Single Valley feels like an extremely limited outing, with an environment that almost feels claustrophobic, but the game quickly opens up as Jack obtains new items, unlocks abilities, and advances through the story itself. The game is a fast-paced affair as the zombie horde is ever-present, and a key part of Mayhem in Single Valley is to stay out of their way by causing distractions or moving objects to create new pathways. This is where the game’s puzzle mechanics come into their own, as you’ll often need to figure out how to stay out of the claws of the zombies by thinking out of the box. We mentioned that Mayhem in Single Valley lacks focus, but it’s with its puzzles especially that the game feels all over the place. At times you’ll need to employ the help of clones of yourself, use UV lights to decode hidden messages, or appease ghosts, just to name a few things. While some of the puzzles are absolutely brilliant, the obtuseness of others can lead to frustration as you’ll die a lot simply because you can get stuck on a puzzle that requires an absurd solution.

Unfortunately, the cracks in Mayhem in Single Valley’s gameplay aren’t limited to a handful of niche elements, but they are visible in the game’s foundation as well. The most egregious example we can give concerns the platforming mechanics. Jumping in particular feels very floaty, making precision platforming unnecessarily frustrating. We’re not saying that the game is unplayable, but we often found ourselves missing jumps until we got used to the game’s uncharacteristic physics. A second fundamental element that Mayhem in Single Valley gets outright wrong concerns inventory management. The game relies on using and combining items fairly often, but the interface is so slow and clumsy that the fast-paced action came to a halt whenever we had to go through our stash of items.

As for combat, rather than killing enemies, you’re tasked with curing them. Unlike what you’d usually expect, Mayhem in Single Valley’s zombies aren’t mindless monsters, but still have feelings, and consequently, likes and dislikes. The zombie horde encompasses a veritable menagerie of critters that inhabit the wilds surrounding Single Valley, ranging from humans and monkeys to bears and everything in between. Jack himself isn’t a combat-focused hero. In fact, he’s rather weak and fragile, and prefers to use his catapult to launch the cure at any infected he comes across. Dealing with enemies typically involves avoiding them and crafting the right cure using fruits and bugs that you happen to come across. Every enemy has specific likes and dislikes, and the right ammunition can stop the zombies from chasing you. Boss battles are more involved, although they should simply be approached as puzzles that require a solution rather than a test of your quick reflexes and fighting skills.

Because of the sheer amount of mechanics that are present, you might expect that Mayhem in Single Valley is a lengthy affair, but it’s a surprisingly short game, clocking in at around six hours if you simply focus on playing through the main story. That said, there are secret areas to discover and a plethora of collectibles, including those aforementioned music tapes. This massively increases the game’s longevity as well as its replayability. Mayhem in Single Valley doesn’t break the bank, but the inclusion of collectibles and secrets ensures that you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck, provided you can get over the game’s shortcomings.


We’ve used the term mixed bag in the past, but no game comes to mind that fits this definition as much as Mayhem in Single Valley. For everything the game gets right, it gets something wrong as well. The story is funny and well-written but lacks depth. The interactive soundtrack is a fantastic idea but the game’s visuals are run of the mill. There are fantastic ideas implemented in terms of gameplay mechanics but some of the fundamental elements are frustrating. There is definitely fun to be found here, but Mayhem in Single Valley’s weak points prevent us from outright recommending it.

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Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Mayhem in Single Valley - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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