The greatest stories involve twisting what we know in search of mystical objects that have the potential to change the world for the better. A lot of the time, these objects become legend that are passed on in conversation but what happens if they still exist? This is what Valley explores.
Valley sees you playing as an unnamed archaeologist who is searching for the mysterious object called the “Life Seed”. Along you search you end up in a Valley hidden within the Rocky Mountains. However though, as you progress through this Valley, you soon discover that you were not the first to look for this “Life Seed”. In fact, through the power of Audio Logs you discover that a man called Andrew Fisher created the Pendulum project and wanted to use the “Life Seed” to win World War II. I enjoy alternative time line story plots and Valley does a really good job at bringing this story across to the player. There a lot of mysterious surrounding this “Life Seed” with the biggest question being whether the item still exists or not.
What I enjoyed about Valley the most is how the story links perfectly into the gameplay. It is not just a bout a guy either looking for items or shooting enemies. Very early in the game you will find technology left over from the Pendulum project called the LEAF suit. This suit will allow you to run at great speeds, jump to great heights and harness the power of life & death around you. Everything you do through comes at a cost as the suite is powered by energy called Amirita. This can be collected throughout the Valley from randomly scatted orbs or by taking life away from your surroundings. On the flip side of taking life, you can also give life back to the Valley. Early on you feel that it is a gimmick but you soon learn that the Valley can loose health and to bring it back up, you have to restore life (this will be in the form of trees & animals). The suit can be upgraded through out the game including more energy slots, double jumping and a hook.
The main mechanic for Valley is momentum, so you will find you self having to traverse puzzle like environments to continue. Keep it going and you will be fine. However, if you loose it and try to make a long jump you will fall to your death causing the Valley to loose health. When i unlocked the hook I did struggle to understand how the momentum worked as I found my self falling short of a target and just flying past it. After some practice (and a few falls), I soon got the hang of it and Valley become a pleasant experience again. What I will praise is the rush you get when you move at high speeds. You can feel yourself speeding up as you move through the open world and when you launch yourself into the air it really feels like you are flying. Blue Isle Studios have created an excellent experience that must be played to believe.
As well as running through the world there is some combat – if you can call it that. As mentioned earlier, you can take & give life and this is achieved by using the left and right triggers on the PS4 controller. For the two enemy types you will encounter in Valley, all you need to do is fire the energy at them whilst dodging their slow moving projectiles. It is not difficult but it does add a little variety to the game. I feel that Valley is suppose to be a peaceful journey of discovery so this limited amount of dangerous enemies is fine and I am glad they did not expand upon it.
Technically, Valley is a good looking game that plays rather well. It is another game that has been built using Unity and as I have seen in the past, the range of visuals can go from PS2 era graphic up to stunning real life. Valley sits in the middle of this range I would say. It looks good but there are noticeable low renders every now and again. It does not effect the experience in anyway as you will be moving quickly past most things but there are moments where you will be taking your time. I did love how the sun was rendered as it adds a lovely warm feel to the overall game. This is the same with the soundtrack. I am a sucker for music and Valley uses it perfectly. You sense the tone of the environment you are entering by just listening to the music being played. For example, when you first acquire you suit and start running, the music create a great sense of freedom. Without this, you are just a man running around in a suit.
Valley is a wonderful game that has a well crafted mechanic along with an interesting story. I enjoy games that tell a story through audio logs and Valley nails this perfectly here. This would be a wonderful game but it does suffer from a few technical issues that cannot be brushed to the side – for a game that wants you to run as fast as possible, it is quite shocking to see performance dips when you hit those high speeds. Valley is a great step forward for Blue Isles Studios and I can hope that they will learn form what they have created here.
Who Should Buy This
- Players looking for a short fun experience
- Anyone looking to get lost in a mysterious world
Who Should Avoid
- Haters of momentum based games (ie Mirrors Edge)
- Players who do not like stories told in parts (Audio Logs)
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Mad Scientist with a passion for gaming!