Valhalla Knights 3, from the outside looking in, has a lot of things going right for it. Instead of taking place in a stereotypical fantasy, happy-go-lucky RPG world it takes place in a dark and seedy world filled with criminals. It also combines the unforgiving difficulty the Dark Souls series is known for and even features a soundtrack by the famous Japanese composer Motoi Sakuraba. For a series that has had a rough start, to say the least, being on a brand-new platform should make for a great place to refresh and reinvigorate the series. But in Valhalla Knights 3's case, that is far from the truth, even if it does manage to fix some of the nagging issues from its predecessors along the way.
The story revolves around an item known as Flockheart's Treasure, an item which can grant its user any wish and is rumored to be located inside Carceron's prison. This used to be a castle before it was retrofitted to house fallouts from a post war-torn country. Of course, you as the player enter the prison in an attempt to get the item before the emperor can find it and continue his reign of conquest. Sadly outside of the introduction this plot really isn't expanded on much at all and serves solely as a backdrop. Still, it's at least an interesting twist on the genre if nothing else.
Taking its cues from western RPG, Valhalla Knights 3 lets players customize their playable character with a choice of four initial races along with your choice of gender (with more races available as you progress through the game). In an interesting twist the player's choice of gender alters their default attributes, such as female humans having less vitality but gaining enhanced skill and dexterity. And if you were worried this might make the female choice too weak, don't worry as it's only a slight difference between the two sexes.
After picking your class and gender, Valhalla Knights 3 starts to go from a mature RPG to a one targeted solely at teenage boys. Like many other WRPGs you can alter your character's body attributes, such as hair, eye and for the females a cup size slider. And of course, for that last slider, you can even adjust it to downright embarrassing proportions. While the idea in itself isn't a bad idea as people come in all shapes and sizes, there isn't really any need for a character with stripper-like proportions to be running around in a game that tries to go for a more mature setting.
This treatment of women is even apparent from the outset of the game. After getting past the game's opening scene prison two men approach and end up killing two inmates and kidnapping a female just to top things off. You learn quickly that in Carceron men fight for dominance among each other and women are items for the men's disposal. The latter becomes evident when the kidnapped women from earlier becomes an escort of sorts in one of the prison's shops.Carceron is setup into two distinct zones: the slums and the light district. The slums is aimed at those starting out as you can inexpensively purchase and sell basic items and take on quests without spending your own money in the process. The light district is its polar opposite as it's where the premium items lie.
Before you can use any of the facilities in the district you have to contract an escort. The more expensive the girl you pick, the better the goods will be that you can obtain. However, the game also adds in an "sexy time" mode to the mix in which the women can be groped and kissed. Watch this video and you'll get a better idea at exactly how it plays out.
Thankfully you can skip this mode without too much of an issue (unlike Killer is Dead's Gigolo Mode), but at the cost of giving up some of the better items. Fan service isn't a bad thing and can even be humorous in some instances, but how Valhalla Knights 3 does it is downright disturbing due to how most of the women looking like teenagers and the "pleasure" comments they blurt out during the mini game --- this isn't a mode to play if you're within earshot of anyone else playing without speakers.
One thing Valhalla Knights 3 did get right is the combat, even if it has its own issues. Similar to XSEED's prior release of Ragnarok Odyssey, you have your standard attacks and combos. And depending on the class, you may also be granted access to a parry or block move. If you've played any of the games in the Dynasty Warriors franchise, you'll feel at home here. Also there's a special "boost" mechanic that's useful in a pinch for the game's harder battles.
Of course, playing by yourself would get boring after a while so you have the ability to recruit party members to fill out your ranks. The game doesn't do that good of a job explaining this system as it requires trial and error due to the different personalities each member can have. These will affects how they compose themselves in battle. For instance, shy companions are better suited for the back line while more intellectual companions are better suited as healers. One nice thing about this system is that you can switch to any of your party members in battle so there isn't the need to class-change every so often like in other games of this ilk.
Most of the non-initial missions, while appearing seeming easy enough, essentially require knowing this system as you need a proper party to tackle them. It becomes quite costly to revive them unless you can revert back to a close enough pre-defeat save so you basically are required to repeatedly take on the filler quests to amass enough money to bankroll any defeats. That doesn't even take into consideration the gear and healing items you'll need for each party member. Grinding is somewhat normal for this genre, but the way in which Valhalla Knights 3 does it borders on tediousness.
Valhalla Knights 3 is a flawed game that has some strengths, but seems to take two steps back for every good idea it implements. Simply put, these knights aren't ready to enter Valhalla just yet, so you're best off ignoring this title.
|Allows players to switch between their party members during battles.|
|Battle mechanics are sound for the most part.|
|The prison idea is an interesting twist.|
|A downright sexist mini game thatâ€™s only purpose is pure fan service.|
|Becomes extremely expensive to revive allies early on in the game.|
|Storyline takes a back seat, which is pretty disappointing.|