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Review – Valley (Xbox One)

by on August 29, 2016
Details
 
Platform
Release Date

August 24th, 2016

Developer

Blue Isle Studios

 

We live in a gaming world filled with action and suspense.  We can find countless games filled with run and gun situation that get the heart racing and require quick hand/eye coordination.  We see the focus on gameplay, and at times see a lack of focus on story elements and atmosphere.  It doesn’t make it a bad gaming experience, but sometimes we are left wanting more.  That’s why it is important to have games like Valley on store shelves.  Valley has a story and atmosphere that creates a unique gaming experience.

Valley can be described as a mystery platformer.  As the story begins, you come across a mysterious, beautiful Valley filled with different kinds of life.  Soon, you acquire the main piece of technology that allows you to travel throughout the game – the L.E.A.F. suit.  The L.E.A.F suit, or Leap Effortlessly though Air Functionality, gives you the opportunity to jump high, run fast, and (after upgrades) launch a hook to swing over different perils.  The suit is a lot of fun to use.  Don’t think of it as a huge, monstrous Mech that you would see in a post apocalyptic world.  Instead, it augments your movements to traverse the Valley.

The story is one of the best parts of the game, so I will try not so spoil it here.  I will say that you are looking for an item of great importance, an item that has the capability to destroy life.  And that is a main focus for the game, not only for the story but also the gameplay.  The theme of life and death is seen within minutes of starting the game.  Your L.E.A.F suit has the capability to bring life to the Valley.  A dead tree can be brought to life.  Or, in an interesting twist, you can take life away to power your suit.  There are benefits to bringing life to the Valley.  Trees have the chance to drop acorns, which open up secret rooms and areas throughout the Valley.  Of course, giving life in the Valley drains your suit, which may prevent you from double jumping or using other aspects of the suit to navigate the area.

Throughout the game, you can’t help but notice how beautiful everything is rendered.  The details in the trees, cliffs, and ruins are nice touches and help tell the story.  Along with the graphics, the music is really a wonderful addition to the game.  It’s atmospheric and helps add emotion to the story.  The music accurately picks up and slows down depending where you are in the story.  And you will get a lot of story with the game.  Audio logs play throughout the game and notes can be read as you travel through the buildings.  Looking at the note will automatically display the text across the screen.  No need to pick up the note in order to read it.

As I mentioned before, the story and atmosphere are wonderful aspects to the game.  Unfortunately, some tweaks to the gameplay would really elevate Valley to another level.  Throughout my playthrough, I never felt in danger while in my L.E.A.F suit.  I could easily jump and run across dangerous areas.  The enemies had basic movements and I always had enough energy to neutralize them.  It felt a little too easy.  Sadly, one of the coolest story features may have had something to do with this lack of urgency and challenge.

When you die (which most often happens falling in water or falling off a cliff), you are brought back to life.  The way you are brought back to life is by taking the life from trees or animals around you.  Everytime you die, you can see more and more life around you die in order to revive you.  While this aspect of life is really cool, it never seemed like a major consequence.  In my playthrough, I was stuck in an area where I died multiple times.  All I did was use the energy from my suit to bring life back to the dead trees.  I never felt like I would ever run out of energy in the suit.  The danger just wasn’t there.

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There are plenty of games out there that offer a challenging, fast paced experience.  Valley doesn’t have that, but that does not take away the fact that it is a game that you should try.  Sure, a higher difficulty would have been nice, but not necessary in this case.  Valley offers a story driven narrative that envelopes you.  The game will take you about 3-4 hours to complete, unless you are like me and stop to explore as many areas as possible.  This is a game you can sit back and enjoy without having to gun down thousands of enemies.  It may not be for everyone, but I would recommend you give Valley a shot.

Valley is available for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4 for $19.99

Positives

Story driven
Wonderful graphics and detail
Beautiful music
Fun platforming using the L.E.A.F suit

Negatives

Not very challenging
No sense of consequence when you die

Editor Rating
 
Gameplay
B-

 
Graphics
B+

 
Story
A

 
Replay Value
C-

Total Score
B

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Bottom Line
 

Valley is a unique gaming experience that may not attract gamers who are looking to run and gun. The lack of challenge is unfortunate, but the rich environment, engaging story, and atmospheric music are more than enough to recommend this game to those looking for something different.

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