I love city building/management sims and now that I know what I’m doing in Valhalla Hills, I’m also enjoying my time as well. If you play the basic game, you’ll be progressing through the (something akin to) achievement system which unlocks larger islands, better quality buildings and shinier toys for your Vikings. It’s a smooth bit of gameplay that’s easy to get into.
In case you pick Valhalla Hills up and feel that you’ve been thrown into the fray with not a lot of control, you’re not alone. At first I only continued playing because I wanted to finish up this review when I discovered the middle mouse button. My whole perspective changed afterward both literally and figuratively. Before then I was trying to play the game with a straight on camera angle that didn’t let me see past the first row of buildings. Suddenly I could change the camera angles and that helped me to control the game without being frustrated. Don’t mock me; it’s only funny because it was me and not you. I only mention this because I can see someone who wouldn’t have explored as much as myself and just given up. I don’t want anyone to abandon Valhalla Hills for this reason!
The basic premise is that Odin has locked the gates to Valhalla and that was the main goal in your life; where do you go from there? Upward of course! It’s time to build and bring enough honor to yourself and then you bum-rush the gates yourself. It’s not as easy as it seems to be. I’ve had a few ideas on what to do to raise my honor a bit faster and so far I’ve only got about a 5th of the way there… it’s a killer grind, but I’m still enjoying myself. I’ve also realized that your Vikings continue on through all the games you play. Suddenly that weight if all of those deaths feel a little heavier don’t they? At the same time, it does help progressing in Valhalla Hills to stop feeling fruitless.
With my lack of progress and any idea on how to actual get my Vikings to collect enough honor quickly, I began to lament the lack of a free-play option. Well, in the middle of writing this review I received an email telling me of their latest update included as much. What amazing timing on their part! This was also a reason why this article didn’t come weeks ago.
Now, why would I want an endless mode? Well the basic gameplay is to build a decent town that’s enough to support an army that can kill everything thus unlocking more options and progressing to the next level that is larger and more difficult and then to do the same again. It’s fun, but like I mentioned earlier, grindy. So the option for an endless mode opened a mode of play that allows, in my mind at least, a lengthier play session to build honor. Now I feel I can build for a lasting community rather than a race to the finish.
Alas, the Open Mode isn’t exactly that, but it’s close enough. With the newly added mode you can now choose the size of the map with randomized height and width. Obviously you’d want to aim for the biggest map because that’s awesome. In the end, it’s still a “get to the top and open the portal” style gameplay, but with some extra options I feel more in control and I feel it lets me explore more of the game to a fuller extent and more of Valhalla Hills is a good thing.
It’s weird that the game is a race to the top. I know I keep harping on this, but it can feel like a very repetitive style of game. “I just keep doing the same thing over and over again. What’s the point?” Now, if you’re realistic you can make that complaint about every single game period. That aside, while thinking about this game at work (don’t judge me!), it dawned on me that this playstyle is actually Perfect for Valhalla Hills! You play as Vikings. They are known to be roaming around and conquering different places aren’t they? Conquer an Island? Move on! It just makes sense.