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Xenon Valkyrie + – Review

There is an infinite amount of mystery in the depths of space. For years, we have often questioned what lies beyond our solar system, searching any signs of life.

However, as science fiction has shown, us, perhaps we are best not knowing as it could be something disastrous. Perhaps, somewhere out there, is a dangerous alien weapon, with enough power to wipe out an entire galaxy. But then again, somewhere out there, maybe a legendary cosmic warrior with fighting capabilities that we cannot possibly imagine.

From developer Diabolical Mind and one-man developer and porting expert COWCAT games, comes Xenon Valkyrie plus, a game where players descend into the dark depths to defeat an ancient weapon and attain galactic glory.

Xenon Valkyrie

Xenon Valkyrie began on Steam and was recently ported to the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4, with new enhancements and features, being retitled Xenon Valkyrie +. The game is an action rogue-like platformer, with jumping, shooting, and melee combat mechanics. Additionally, Xenon Valkyrie + features procedural generation, meaning each level, along with the bosses will completely change at the end. Finally, the game features permadeath, meaning that there are no checkpoints or save points for your descent. If you die on the final level, you will have to begin from the very start. For those familiar with the 2008 rouge-lite Spelunky from Derek Yu, they’ll feel right at home with Xenon Valkyrie +.

Xenon Valkrire tasks you, the player, to star as one of several warriors. Deep within a mysterious planet is an ancient army, filled with dangerous enemies and gigantic bosses. The goal is to make it to the bottom of the level and successfully exit.  In each level, players need to make it to the exit. Initially, players are armed with a sidearm and a melee weapon, along with infinite explosives. The explosives aren’t quite offensive and are primarily used to destroy sections of the level to descend. What you do in the level is entirely up to you.

Players can make a beeline to the end of the level, or cover every corner of the level to destroy enemies, collect, gold and uncover new items. Players can collect keys and unlock special white chests, which contain special weapons. Each enemy slain allows you to gain health, gold, and most importantly, experience.

The experience points can be allocated, to health, defense, and offense, which will have an immense impact on your gameplay experience. Gold can be used to buy items, and health in between levels, as well as allow for teleportation to specific levels. Finally, bosses release special crystals, which carry with you, even if you die in battle. The crystals can allow access to better weapons from the very start and will further increase your odds of survival.

The gameplay in Xenon Valkyrie is incredibly engaging, and the world that it takes place in is very fascinating. Players fight in a world that is a combination of technology, cybernetics, fantasy, and space cosmic lore, with an inspiration from Norse mythology. The enemies you fight and weapons you wield feel fresh and distinct from other platformers. The music, performed by Giorgiost provides a haunting, mysterious, and exciting take on  8-bit compositions, with moments of the quiet unknown and the engagement of embarking on an epic intergalactic adventure,

The gameplay is rock solid, but perhaps a bit too hard. The enemies and levels will change, and this is also dependent on the skill of the player. Players will have varying experiences, as the procedural generation and permadeath create moments of frustration and sheer excitement.

When I started, I died frequently and early, but as I got used to the game and acquired better firepower, I was able to make more successful plunges into Xenon Valkyrie. I got used to the boss fights and the changes in difficulty. On one run, I made it through stage four.

The exhilaration of defeating dozens of enemies, slaying massive bosses, navigating dangerous stages, and acquiring new loot put my hands in a white-knuckle stage. My heart rate increased and I was fixated on beating the game! Each boss slain felt like a small roar of victory, and I silently shouted “huzzah” at each takedown. Unfortunately, I bought the farm shortly after entering stage 5, but it was a hell of a ride and it motivated me to keep playing.

One other drawback would be that the world is incredibly inviting and ripe with originality, but there are only a handful of levels. I could easily see the lore of Xenon Valkyrie expanded in a future installment, with an exploration of the mythos and lore of the characters, worlds, and mysterious fantasy of this universe. Still, what is present is fascinating and I am glad that there is a strong emphasis on something different, which is important in a world filled with other rogue-likes.

Despite some difficulty spikes and a short length, Xenon Valkyrie is an incredibly solid and action-packed roguelike game. Its world is fascinating, its gameplay is challenging, and the enemies you face are a thrill to destroy.  Whether you play on the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation Vita,  is a legendary battle worth experiencing, no matter your play style or skill.

Xenon Valkyrie + was a reviewed by a key generously supplied by COWCAT through the distribute() key distribution system.

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