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Grimvalor Review – A Soulsvania to Satisfy

Juan over at SwitchWatchTV got the review key for Grimvalor, a metroidvania of sorts. I heard this initially debuted on mobile, but upon seeing the trailer for it, I must say that I am intrigued. Well, enough with the intriguing, let’s dive right into Juan’s review, shall we?

How you doing, everyone? Juan Romero here with another review, and today we have Grimvalor, a game that has its mobile roots, which some people may scoff and write it off but before you do you may want to just hold on a little further…

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STORY

Grimvalor has a familiar tale. In fact, if you have played Dark Souls or Blasphemous, this will all feel quite familiar in a kind of comforting way, at least for me anyways.

Tasked with discovering the Lost King, your quest quickly takes a turn for the worse. You are cast into the abyss, a place no one wants to be. Here you have few friends, even the vendor only wants to sell you stuff. Supply and demand and all that. I always wondered if there was a line of warriors or if there is only ever one in these games. I mean how is a vendor supposed to make a living in a place like this?

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I digress. You meet a few characters along the way and have a few conversations, but the game really does not hook you with the story. But that’s okay, and let me tell you why.

GAMEPLAY

I knew Grimvalor had made its debut on mobile platforms, and I will be the first to admit I do not pay much attention to games on IOS or Android. For me, playing with buttons which are not physical take away all the enjoyment. Sure, you can get pads and things nowadays that are a lot better, but it still isn’t my thing. However, put the game on the Switch, and all of a sudden, I am ready to give it a shot.

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And boy, was I glad I did.

This is a 2.5D hack-n-slash action platformer, and while this is its description, it is so much more than that. The more I played, the more I became totally enthralled. It may sound a little hyperbolic. There are plenty of platformers around, but something about this just feels so damn excellent to play. Imagine if you will the monsters in Dark Souls but in a side-scrolling platformer. Then imagine your character as a sword-wielding bad ass who can only jump, double jump, and dash across the screen so quickly and effortlessly, you would think you were super man at times.

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That’s just the movement. The combat feels fluid here, so simple but satisfying, you can use your dash move to continuously evade enemies’ moves striking, then avoiding, then striking in this dance of destruction.

I recently reviewed One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 and commented on how thrilling aerial combat is. Here, you swipe your sword when a flying enemy comes towards you, and you can end up with many seconds of thrashing your sword wildly and completing what looks like a beautiful aerial dance. I freakin’ loved it.

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grimvalor

The level enemies serve as your food and drink to collect souls. Hmm. Where have I seen that before? You know what? I don’t even care that the developers here have borrowed and been inspired by other games. Sure, it’s a little more obvious here, but again I was enjoying myself too much to care.

As you collect souls in Grimvalor, you begin to level up. As you do, you can rest at many of the checkpoints spread throughout the levels and then assign points to you character. Simple stuff, but it keeps you glued and invested. From time to time, you will meet a mid-level boss, which are all fun by the way to beat, and they are a good challenge too. Then there are times when you are hunted, and some big-ass beast will need to be taken down. Fail and you go back to the checkpoint, but you will never lose too much progress throughout the game.

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Now, I am having a good time so far, but then I realize this is not just an action platformer, but a metroidvania, or as the developers call it, a “soulsvania”. You see, as you look at the map there is a percentage of completion which can only be 100 percented if you explore every nook and cranny of the level, and it pays to do so as you will often find treasure in the form of relics which leads to you being able to upgrade your health potion. You can use it multiple times, which is filled up again at the rest points, to upgrade your sword as your primary weapon or you secondary weapon which is a much more powerful attack and needs a portion of your blue bar to be filled to use.

You will be able to also unlock new moves which will allow you to break down walls in the floor to find hidden areas. I found myself just wanting to explore as much of the map in each act as possible before being ready to take on the boss. I love how this is depicted and how clear it is in showing you what else needs to be done. Often you will want to go back to get every single piece of treasure you can, so you can buy the sweet weapons and upgrades.

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After all is said and done, this adventure will consume you for about 15 hours. Honestly, I could not put it down, and then for us Switch owners, we have the pleasure of Game + mode which adds that extra difficulty.

You many be thinking where are the negatives within the gameplay. You may want a little more depth, and you may even want the maps to be larger. But honestly, I am nit-picking here.

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AUDIO

The audio here is excellent in Grimvalor. Each act having a really good atmosphere where it feels like you are in a terrible place full of nasty monsters looking to take you out.

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The sound effects are good too. I would have liked voiced narration, but of course that would have meant the game would be more expensive.

VISUALS & PERFORMANCE

Visually is where I think the game shows it’s mobile roots a tad. I would have liked a little more detail, and I would have also liked the animations to have been stronger. Sometimes it seems like the character is floating along the ground rather than his footsteps actually touching the ground with each step.

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However, the enemy designs are cool, especially the bosses.

VALUE

Grimvalor is around 12 to 15 hours long, depending if you explore every area. I think for a game like this, it was the perfect length, but if there was a sequel where it could be made grander in scope, I will be buying it right away.

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For $12.99 or £11,99, I think the price of the game is priced perfectly, not quite trile AAA indie price and not too cheap either. This is good value for money based on the enjoyment you get and hours.

  • Story - 8/10
    8/10
  • Gameplay - 8/10
    8/10
  • Audio - 8/10
    8/10
  • Visuals & Performance - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 8/10
    8/10

Summary

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Grimvalor for me was a complete surprise, sure it’s a port of a mobile game but, don’t let that put you off because it’s found a perfect home. If you like action, exploration, boss fights with a dash of platforming and enjoyed games such as DarkSouls and Blasphemous then this is a must but for your collection.
Overall
8/10
8/10

Pros

  • Fluid Gameplay
  • Fun!
  • Sound design

Cons

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  • Story
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