Xenon Valkyrie+ Review – A Portable, Pixellated Roguelite Adventure

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Xenon Valkyrie+

 

A Cut-Throat Roguelite

 

The PS Vita hasn’t seen a wealth of releases over the past year or so, and for any unknown reason has sat with relatively low sales. This fact, however, hasn’t stopped indie developers from pushing their software on the impressive mobile console. Xenon Valkyrie+ is one example of new releases still gracing Sony’s handheld, and with it comes a nostalgic, dungeon crawling experience perfect for the portable console.

With its initial release on Steam earlier this year, the Xenon Valkyrie title has taken players back to an age-old era. The first impressions of pixellated wonder amidst those tube TVs were something so powerful that today we still crave those standards. This roguelite, procedurally generated action/platformer is a tasty experience for challenge enthusiasts alike. Xenon Valkyrie+ has officially landed on the Vita, still hoping to keep the platform alive.

This hardcore platformer is a challenging one, set in a time where you must plunge deep into the moon and put a halt to the devious plans of a wicked witch. Using a variety of simple skills and weapons, players will make their way down to various portals which act as end of level checkpoints.There are a few different heroes to choose from, all of which have differing stats and a unique abilities. Ranging from health, strength, defense, speed and gun ammo, each character also has one special skill to use, which more often than not, only slightly helps in most situations.

In Xenon Valkyrie+ players will embark on a dangerous journey to the core of the moon, in doing so picking their own route in procedurally generated levels.
Plunge Into the Depths of the Moon

Making your way downward, players will slash through enemies with their melee sword weapon, and fire from their ranged, gun weapon carrying a limited amount of ammo. These randomly generated levels house a handful of various enemy types, as well as helpful items, that when put to good use, can help get you a long way throughout the game. Upon death players will start over from scratch, so any useful equipment or items is essential for progressing further.

Players are free to proceed downward in whichever way they see fit. Finding gaps between the walls to plunge deeper into the moon, players must dodge and fight random enemy encounters with their quick maneuvering skills. The 2D pixellated, side-scrolling roguelite also has sprinkles of RPG elements added to the mix, such as leveling up through gaining experience points from killing off opponents. This helps push players towards taking out as many of the space mutant enemies as possible, to help increase strength, health, and any of the other stats for each character.

Though the pixellated visuals represent the dive into the moon in an artistic manner, often walls and ledges will blend with the backgrounds.

In between levels acts as a hub of sorts, giving survivors the opportunity to spend their level up tokens, purchase useful equipment like health potions, grenades or defensive shields, using whatever cells (the currency in the Xenon Valkyrie universe) the player may have scavenged from their latest escapade. Once wrapping up your business in the hub areas, players make way deeper into the moon, either by completing another randomly generated dungeon, or taking on one of the cut-throat boss fights.

Grueling and Brutally Challenging

The bosses in Xenon Valkyrie+ are huge enemies that deal a load of damage. Landing a clean hit is also most of the challenge in these often times hectic encounters. While the boss attacks are primarily staged in predictable patterns, getting in close and swinging away with your otherwise tiny blade, and almost inevitably receiving damage makes me wonder why players are forbidden to use their gun weapon. In fact, the only weapon your able to use during these boss encounters is your short sided melee weapon.

The boss fights are relentless and demand patience to conquer without defeat.

The mayhem of the 2D side-scrolling action can only be harness from the roots of classic pixellated action titles. The grueling method of grinding away at each randomly generated level can seem cruel and unforgiving most of the time. But once you get the hang of Xenon Valkyrie+, the ability to challenge yourself to plunge deeper and deeper with the tries is rewarding all in its own.

The graphic stylings in Xenon Valkyrie+ is a mashed up pixellated setting, but can easily become confusing. Given it’s now featured on the Vita, the tiny screen from the Sony handheld doesn’t help much with this downfall. Unless you’ve managed to pick up the PS TV – which allows players to enjoy their Vita collection on large screen television set – players made find themselves squinting at the screen, or even second guessing what they perceive is a wall, or merely just the background.

After making your way through a trivial few stages of platforming, the sheer size and challenge of some bosses that lie ahead can be rather overwhelming.

Luckily for all of the crafty players, using grenades or any other explosive style of combat can and will damage the walls and ground surfaces. This can prove useful for plunging deeper down into the moon, but also may take your entire stock of grenades. Utilizing your inventory in a useful method is entirely up to the player, and how things have progressed for them so far.

Diagnosis

With the randomly generated levels, and the quick-acting platforming action, this roguelite title brings a truly rewarding experience to the late handheld console. While many players will be hesitant from the “die and start over” style of gameplay, it’s an easy game to pick up and give it another go nonetheless. With a small dash of RPG like elements to the mixture, along with the merciless approach of all the cut-throat platformers from the 8/16 bit days, Xenon Valkyrie+ is a worthy approach to bring players back to a classic form of gameplay.

Final Grade

While the non-stop action of Xenon Valkyrie+ is hectic and unforgiving, there’s a certain depth to the roguelite platformer that is missing from many of the same genre. Keeping the grace of the Vita lifespan still ticking away, Xenon Valkyrie+ is an excellent addition to any platforming fan who enjoys partaking in a little punishing gameplay.

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