Review / Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga (Wii)

The managing editors here at TVGB are pretty cool. They’re fair and knowledgeable, and I value their opinions. Lately, I thought I’d been doing pretty well at staying on their good side – I was getting my writing in on time, doing my due diligence on research, even checking my spelling. And just a few weeks ago, they had me review Machinarium, which proved to be one of the greatest games I ever played. But then they sent me Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga for the Wii.

Arranging for someone to play Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga is not a casual decision. The Barzini and Tattaglia families did not casually send Michael Corleone a dead fish. Peter Griffin does not casually bump into the giant chicken. John Locke is not a casual outdoorsman. Fate has marked these men to face bitter, soul-wrenching ordeals, and the same can be said of anyone who must spend any time with the likes of VK:ES.

The story in this game is as memorable as eating a red Skittle. Centered upon some nonsense pertaining to scattered pieces of a fallen meteorite, the game manages to rip off story threads from Final Fantasy VII, The Last Remnant, Smallville, and even Vagrant Story. And, despite lifting elements from all these great sources, the game’s narrative leaves no lasting impression and is merely a poor excuse for the grueling, derivative gameplay. I’ve seen amateur porn with more intricately detailed plots.

Speaking of the gameplay, little can be said of it other than it’s a mess, mostly due to obnoxious, downright unworkable controls. Random Wiimote movements and button presses occasionally reward you with desired results, but often produce completely random actions. Throughout my time with the game, I was reminded of my younger days, during which I played Marvel vs. Capcom for the Dreamcast. Never great at fighting games, I would typically just close my eyes, mash buttons wildly, and hope for the best. I eventually applied the same strategy to Valhalla Knights. The infuriating difficulty doesn’t help – AI enemies never miss, but the awkward controls never give you a break.

Graphics do not make or break a game, but here they are simply unacceptable. The visuals in Bushido Blade for the PSOne are more majestic than the drab, muted, blocky eye poison shoveled at you in VK:ES. The graphics aren’t just boring and blocky, though – they actually make the game damn near unplayable. Enemies are prone to popping up out of nowhere and the visuals are so unclear and derivative that you will literally see nothing that will help you navigate forward. Moreover, the game’s music is average at best, uninspired at worst, and often gives way to repetitive, obnoxious sound effects.

I’d be remiss to talk about this game without mentioning the standard fare it supplies. Like any RPG, you play the role of a plucky hero with a trusty sidekick. And, again like any role-playing game, there are a number of sidequests you can take on if you so choose. Finally, one of the truly interesting aspects about this game was the co-op online play – by connecting with a friend, the two of you can experience the game together in real time. But, of course, there is no voice chat, ultimately ensuring that the game remains a solitary, lonely experience, regardless of what online “co-op” features the game touts to have.

The only cool thing – and I do mean The. Only. Cool. Thing. – about this game is how the main hero is introduced. In the first stage of the game, you create a character and get intimate with a woman. For the remainder of the game, you assume the role of the child they bear. This was a nice twist early on and even reminded me of the Snake/Raiden development that occurred in the opening levels of Metal Gear Solid 2. And yes, I do want some sort of award for actually making a comparison, albeit a tenuous and tangential one, between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga.

Wii games are great. Also, RPG’s are great. And there’s a great way to do each. But Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga succeeds at neither. It is an ugly, slow, cheap game that is disrespectful to gamers everywhere. No matter where you are and what kind of games you like, you’d be wise to steer clear of this garbage. And to my editors here at That VideoGame Blog – there’s so much great stuff coming out this holiday season – please, don’t let Machinarium 2 be the next great game I review.

+ Interesting character development in the early stages
+ Will not cause you to become infected with any communicable diseases
+ Technically a game, which the dictionary defines as a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance, usually played for enjoyment

– Awful gameplay and storyline
– Awful graphics and game design
– I’m not 100% sure about the disease claim – you may get sick while playing this game