Axes and shields, bows and arrows, mead and roasting meat, pillages and conquests, shieldmaidens and amazing mythology, these are the ingredients for a rich culture, unique and a fountain of inspiration for so many. I have a thing for Roman and Japanese culture, but Norse comes in a close third.
Because of this I had no problems going into Valhalla Hills from Funatics e Daedalic Entertainment. This and the fact that my oldest friend is half Viking and we both like to go into a field do some archery, forge axes and knives and throw them at something while we drink some mead. Manly stuff, not lumbersexual crap.
Real men don’t use creams to soften their skin and so they don’t have split ends on their beard, at most they trim it with a blade. They don’t use flannel shirts so that they look like lumberjacks or go to a shop buying rustic looking furniture, they go to a forest cut down a three and build one with their own hands. They don’t drink cocktails with fruit and shit, they drink mead with a roasted pork leg! Real men play Valhalla Hills! And real women too! There is no feminist discrimination among vikings. “You have moving hands and arms? Oh… you have kids? Good for you! You can pick up a shield and axe or a spear and go into battle.”
That’s how it is in Valhalla Hills, men and women do everything that needs doing. And to my pleasure they do it automatically.
Wait… I’m getting ahead of myself, as this is one of those games that I haven’t finished because technically it has no ending you can always go back, it’s hard to do a review, because I don’t like to do that without finishing a game, although I have a considerable number of hours on it. Still:
Done, over, buy it now, or some other time, but do buy it and have fun. Of course a review can’t be like this, I can’t just say buy the game and not explain why, or at least explain the game, right?
Take your blades and a horn, fill it with mead or beer and here we go…
This game was created by the same man that gave us the critically acclaimed Settlers 2 and it follows the same structure, we control a Viking settlement with the purpose of reaching Asgard. But this game has several aspects that are a delight to someone that already has some history in these fields.
For those of us that like mythology and/or history, particularly Nordic ones, the concept of this game is hilarious. In Viking culture they believe that being brave and valorous warriors, when they die they will go to Valhalla. But what would happen if when they got there the doors were closed? If the toll at Bifröst rainbow bridge had the gates up? If the bouncer Heimdallr said that you couldn’t go in because the place was packed? What would you do?
That is the premise that Valhalla Hills places the player in, a mix of real time strategy and building. When the Gods send the heroes back to Midgard, like true Vikings they don’t give up. If they can’t get in one way, they’ll find a way in. They’ll build a settlement up every mountain until they reach Asgard, and by Odin, they’ll get in this time.
As I said before this game does not discriminate by gender, just like in the Viking culture, here it doesn’t matter if it’s Frida or Lasse that are the warriors, if an inhabitant is free, they take the job. The other is that in most of these games we select the character that we want to do something, i.e. we build a quarry, we then choose someone to work there, but not here. We chose the lumber mill and immediately someone goes there. In my games it’s usually one called Jetter, and that woman goes through wood like there was no tomorrow. Not only that, anything that is built, if there is any idle character they immediately go gather materials and start the construction.
Another plus is the gradual learning curve as we advance the game. I love how they made it. The game is presented in islands, the objective is to open the portal on the furthest end of the Island and be transported to a larger one. It’s at this pace that we learn to play, each island is bigger, with larger diversity of resources and challenges. Bit by bit and without noticing the game becomes more complex, but without hand holding tutorials, it’s a natural path.
This game respects the Viking life style. Between the many buildings we have hunting lodges, mead distilleries, battle camps but the Viking way, unlike most games like this the building is not fixed. The objective is to reach the end of the map, and we use the resources that are limited, so we pick up some buildings or tear them down and use the resources to build a new one in another place.
The last factoring point in this game is the answer to the questions, what type of Viking are you?
The portal always has ice creatures inside that will attack our villagers when we open it, so there are two things that we can do, either have a bunch of warriors ready to destroy them or we have an altar where we previously leave offerings to appease them. Personally I prefer to crush their throats under the leather of my boots, but that’s just me.
But not everything is a gift from Odin, sometimes Loki pulls a few tricks and gets involved where he shouldn’t. In spite of the visual beauty of the game from the wide images of the map to the details of Bjarne wearing rabbit ears after killing a few bunnies, the camera and its movement can be the worst part of the game sometimes. Other than that, it’s worth the money we pay for it.
Mead (with moderation, or not)
Time (a lot, free)
Imagination ( plenty, if you don’t have it the game will give you a push)
Liking strategy games such as Settlers (even if you don’t take a chance)
PC (or laptop)
Copy of Valhalla Hills
Be a man or woman with a Viking spirit!
But really Viking spirit, because honestly? Lumbersexuals? WTF is that?