Xenon Valkyrie+ Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Diabolical Mind

Publisher: Cowcat

Release Date: 02/01/2019

Price as of Article: £8.99 GBP, $9.99 USD

Game code provided by Cowcat for Review

Introduction

Roguelike is a term you will often hear now in mainstream gaming but it wasn’t always like that. Roguelike was a term often used to describe a game which was essentially turn based, top-down, and had permadeath. It was a term more often used to make people aware that a particular game had these elements, like the original Rogue game, made in 1980. Here, we have a Roguelite, which is traditionally used to describe a game which uses some of the elements used to describe a Roguelike, but not all.

It has come to a point where, whenever I see the term Roguelite, I am saying to myself, “Wow, another game with permadeath and randomly generated levels?” Okay, maybe I am being a little unfair, because many of these games have slight variations on the theme to make them slightly different from each other. Having my ear to the ground, many people seem to be getting a little tired of these games, since there have been so many lately, and some have never liked the fact that all your progression is lost when you perish. If that’s you, then this game is certainly not for you.

Xenon Valkyrie+ has you trying to halt the plans of the wicked witch in the deepest part of the moon, and the story throughout the game is told in little snippets from the characters that you meet.

Gameplay

Gameplay sees you have a choice of three characters. Two girls and what looks like a frog boy. Each have the same basic moves of being able to swish a sword, fire a gun, and chuck a few grenades. There is a variation with each when it comes to their special power, though. One of the girls has a power that can tell you where a chest is on the map, which usually includes some nice upgrades. The other has a large bomb, and I can say that I found both girls to be mostly useless in my pursuit of getting further down the rabbit hole.

No, for me, ‘Frog boy’ was the one. His special power allows for huge jumps which let you reach almost any platform, which is especially useful due to the game’s design. Each time you start a run, the game’s levels, enemies, and chest placements are randomised, along with the drops and coin you are able to amass. If you choose one of the girls, it can be infuriating when you need to get to one of the mid-level bosses but it’s stuck on a high platform that you can’t reach due to not being able to jump high enough. This is caused due to the random levels, and this happened to me on more than one occasion. Although every character can jump off walls in some situations, this still does not help. Most of the chests to get better items need the key from the mini-boss, so if you want to go deep into a run, you need to seek these out.

Combat is a simple swipe-of-the-sword and shot-of-the-gun type affair, and if you are patient, it’s not really a huge challenge. If, however, you are like me and a tad impatient, then you will end up bumping into enemies or falling on spikes, losing health easily on your descent. Ultimately, once you reach the end of the level, which take no more than a couple of minutes, you get the opportunity to spend talent points on more health, defence, and attack power, which sees the game mix in some RPG elements. None of it is very deep and is all kept super simple. You also have the opportunity to spend your gold on a random set of items. You can buy more grenades, health, or whatever has been randomly generated in the room. In these rooms, you can speak to characters to further the story, which, again, is kept short and sweet.

Sometimes items will be helpful, and at other times they will be utterly useless to your needs. Ultimately, you try to have the best run, but if nothing goes for you in terms of items, it can be very tricky. During other runs, you will have all the money in the world drop and get the best items, and you may have a blast – until you get to a boss, that is.

While bosses have very set patterns and are easy to read, they are so frustrating to fight due to the fact you are nerfed when fighting them. You can’t use your gun, your grenades, or any special power. The only thing you can do is get close enough to swipe your sword. Because you have such a tiny swing, this means you will often collide with the boss, lose health and, on many occasions, die and have to start again. Don’t get me wrong, I like hard games. I thrive on them, but they have to have a balance between being difficult and frustrating, with enough enjoyable gameplay to keep you coming back for more. Dying at a boss because my abilities have been reduced and being hampered by using one mechanic pissed me off more than anything else. Especially when this kills off your good run. 

If you beat bosses, they may drop a piece of ‘Teamerite’, but more often than not, they didn’t. Accumulating ‘Teamerite’ allows you to buy some of the big daddy stuff, so it drops in runs if you can get that far. The thing about this game is that it came out on PS Vita over a year ago, so it would have been nice if some of these issues were rectified before just porting it over to the Nintendo Switch. It’s cool for a quick go now and again, but I wanted more and I feel with a few different design choices, this could have offered something a little more special. 

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Audio

The audio has a chiptune track which is fine, but can become a little annoying after a while, as there is not enough variation. All the sound effects are fine for what this is.

Visuals & Performance

I am all for pixel art, but there are so many games that use it that it really has to be something special, and this does not reach those heights. The pixel art here is very blurry and seeing your little character on the Switch screen looks tiny and sometimes hard to see.

This, for me, was best played in docked mode. Let’s just say it’s not the prettiest game in the world. Of course, if you compare it to something like Dead Cells, then you will be disappointed. There were, however, no performance issues, which is always a bonus.

Value

Xenon Valkyrie+ has over 100 items to find and a different ending to each campaign, so there is lots of replay value if you want it. The very nature of these types of games and their loop has you wanting to take that one more run to see if you can get a little further, especially to see what items you will find, and I guess that’s the lure and that’s where its true value is, because some will eventually put in the hours. Ultimately, for a game like this, being £8.99 GBP or $9.99 USD, it’s not hugely expensive and supports the developer. There is also a demo to try, so if you like the demo then spend your money on the full game. If not, then at least you haven’t spent anything. I always believe that if a developer can get a demo on the eShop, then it really is the best way to sell their wares. 

Pros

P

Lots of replay value 

Cons

P

Frustrating