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The Cheap-Ass Gaming Garbage Man Reviews: Valley

TheGarbageManFeb 20, 2018, 9:14:51 PM

Running down the hill, I gain enough speed to easily leap across the chasm, hundreds of feet into the air. As I sail through the sky, the large, looming factory ahead pulses a wave of life-sucking energy, killing the trees as I’m jumping by.

I aim my L.E.A.F. suit’s weapon, a cannon that can take life as easily as it can give it, and revive the newly dead trees along with a fallen fawn. It leaps to its feet and bounds away into the forest, eager to meet its rabbit and butterfly friends.

A Daemon shoots at me from behind, reddening my vision and prompting three shots from my cannon into its floating form, causing it to explode in flash of dark light, leaving behind glowing orbs and golden acorns in its absent presence.

I run again, gaining as much speed as I can for the next blind leap. I have to stop this life-sucking factory.

I have to save Valley.

Run forest, run!

Valley. What is there to say? It's a First-person platformer. That’s about it.

It might try to pass off as a puzzler, but that would be an insult to 24-piece jigsaw puzzles. This does not require much in the way of solving anything other than how to get to the other side of a chasm, or which dead tree, the ones that have a tell-tale glow around them, to shoot so the door will open. Ultra-complicated.

You get a nifty suit called a L.E.A.F. (Leap Effortlessly through Air Functionality) at the near beginning, a sort of jumping robot legs that allows you to run faster, jump further, and make things come back to life as though you are Jesus Christ of the forest. 

I spent most of the game making the trees green again, raising dead deer to life (though not as much as I’d like), and just trying to make this hidden valley a lush paradise. It doesn’t matter, but it is appealing for those who have compulsion disorders.

The graphics are okay. I did find myself admiring some of the landscapes, but they never felt overly special or polished. While the night sky and the aura lights do pop, the foggy peaks and barren landscapes diminish the overall awe. That sparsity might be so that Valley ran as smoothly as it did.

I'm a sucker for pretty, fake night skies.

Even though this game pushes speed as one of its main features, I barely got the sense of it. The pacing was weird as some downhill portions picked up more speed than others? It just felt off and only a few times, mostly the literal on-rails portions (twice), did I feel some rush of the world passing by.

Jumping is the other main feature that is prominent of your L.E.A.F. suit. That part is somewhat satisfying. After a few chapters, you gain access to the double-jump upgrade, giving the extra edge to find any secret or hop any barrier.

There is also a surprising amount of mid-air control, something that saved my life way more than is expected in games like this. A few other forgettable upgrades attach to your suit to try and vary the gameplay, but ultimately it's the tight controls in Valley are something that I give it credit for.

The story is serviceable. It’s not great, but it keeps you a little interested in its revelations of the three main characters, the ones who are tangled in this valley’s history of many layers. From ancient mesoamericans, to WW2, to your present day rediscovery,  Valley has a few cool secrets, but you’ll know the ending way before it comes. Still, I was interested in both the occasional voice-acted recordings along with the hidden notes here and there.

Awww, a sweet love story in which we already know they're all dead.

There is some semblance of combat, in that the same L.E.A.F. suit gun you use to revive or suck the life out of plants and animals, is also used to destroy Animita swarms and Daemons that arrive out of the destruction from the Valley. Nothing deep or strategic, but it’s there.

I both liked and was irritated by the acorn and medallion gathering the game offers on the side, along with hidden rooms to unlock, crates to open, and upgrades to achieve. They are here, but the levels are so big that finding them all is a chore, one that I both want and don’t want to do. Towards the end, I chose not to care, but it still ate up a few gameplay hours scouring the far corners for secrets and gathering fallen acorns from revived trees.

This was a Blue Isle Studios joint, the same developer that made the full-fledged Slenderman game, Slender: The Arrival, before this title. If I had known that at the start, I would have never even started playing this game. But kudos to them for being able to break free of the restrictive Slenderman bonds and having the ability to make an original game with a more intelligent and brighter narrative.

The concept art is one of the best parts of this game.

Rating: 2 out of 5. Valley wasn’t a bad experience. It wasn’t an amazing journey. It was a game that tried so hard to be fantastical, but ends up feeling a little flat. While the atmosphere was neat and the idea was commendable, I put the controller down with no sense of victory, no feelings of a well-earned credit scroll.

It had potential, but I don’t think the game was advanced enough to deliver on that potential. The rush of speed never felt full and the whole game was more of a linear walk from point A to point B straight till the very end. Some portions tried to break that up, but it felt like a trick, like they knew they had such a narrow scope that they forced in a part or two of free roam. Even though, those free roam parts were just there to extend the gameplay time for a 4 hour game.

It’s a game. It’s plays. That’s about all I can say walking away. I get the “questions” it forcefully shoves down your throat of morality and destroying life, but I don’t care about the way it asks them. I’ll forget about this game tomorrow and I suggest you find a more fulfilling one to play. If you want 6 or 7 pretty vista views and that’s it, then sure, pick up Valley.

This was the Cheap-Ass Gaming Garbage Man, I’m checkpointing until the next game.