Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga Review

By Kyle Wynen on October 26, 2009

Valhalla Knights is an RPG series that originally made its debut on the PlayStation Portable. Developed by the relatively unknown developer, K2, the series has done well enough for itself to warrant two series sequels, the latest being Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga for the Nintendo Wii. Set in the world of Eldar, players set out on a quest to reunite the land, its different races, and bring an end to the wave of monsters tormenting Eldar.

Ages before Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga begins, a meteor shower sends the world into chaos. A lot of people perished, and monsters took over. Following this, an alliance of races rose up to fight off the legions of monsters. Now, hundreds of years later, there are still monsters infesting the land of Eldar, the land from which the monsters originated. This is the simple premise of Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga, and it basically serves as an excuse to have various monsters roaming around the environmentally diverse land of Eldar.

It's up to players to create the hero of the story. However, choices are fairly limited on the customization front. Players can only choose their face, hair, voice and job. There's roughly a dozen different faces and hairstyles to pick from, but no matter how players mix and match, a fairly generic adventure hero is what they'll end up with. Players can at first be one of five different jobs, fighter, thief, priest, mage, or bard. However, more jobs open up halfway through the game as well, including samurai, knight, ninja, and archer.

Dropped into the village of Vestilia, the hub city in the land of Eldar, players start out with some very basic equipment. The town has a shop for buying weapons, armour and items, a blacksmith for fixing weapons, a bar for recruiting mercenaries to fight alongside players, a church for saving the game, a guildsman to get quests from, and a few other amenities. Gameplay itself consists of the hero completing a series of story-line focused quests, with side quests mixed in whenever some extra funds are needed. Combat is very basic, and is broken up into light attacks and hard attacks. Players can lock-on to enemies, but there is no blocking or dodging; the outcome of battles has very little to do with skill, and a lot to do with stats and bonuses.

From the get-go players have a couple dozen points to place on each of their stats, which are common fare in the RPG world. When players level-up they'll get a few more points with each level that can be added to their existing stats. This makes it very important to assign points correctly, as for example if players simply don't bump up their dexterity as they progress through the game, they'll find their attacks constantly miss. Yet there is no explanation given to any of the stats in the game. Furthermore, when buying new equipment the shop doesn't compare the stats of their equipment to the player's, making it quite the hassle to actually get better weapons and armour.

The camera doesn't do the game any favours either, as when normally running around players can see enemies just fine, but when locked-on the player blocks the view of the enemy. To compound this, when locked-on players walk very slowly instead of the normal running speed. Attacking is slow and repetitive as well, with battles simply consisting of holding Z to lock-on, and constantly clicking A to attack, sometimes throwing B in there for a hard attack. Outside of attacking, the control scheme is also not laid out very well, and takes almost no advantage of motion control.

Eldar Saga just constantly disappoints with its gameplay. Its not that it doesn't work or function how one might imagine, the key problem is that it is just incredibly uninspiring, and flat out boring. For example, the very first quest sets players out to find a herb in a cave. While yes it is designed to teach players the gist of the game, that quest is followed up by a quest to kill ten bunnies, and then another quest to kill ten fungi plants. The game doesn't only fail to hook players in however, it just continues to be dull. Visually speaking, environments look bland, and mostly brown. Textures and models are poor, and it's honestly surprising to see it all at least animates well.

The story of Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga also falls victim to a stale delivery. There is no voice acting during the game, only text, and the player character never speaks. When other characters will ask the hero a question, the hero will just nod a lot and move their mouth, but no text displays to show they're actually speaking. Coupled with trite dialogue and an unoriginal story, the game radiates the feeling of being a chore to stick with.

Final Thoughts

Sadly, the best aspect of Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga is its quick load times. Everything else about the game, despite working just fine, is just plain boring. The game isn't even worth recommending to the hardest of hardcore, as there is no real challenge to be found, with all the entertainment value sucked out by all-around bland presentation and monotonous gameplay. Players are more likely to find themselves eternally annoyed with the running sound sample before enjoying any part of the game, and for reasons like that this game cannot be recommended to anyone.

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