Valley The Game Review
Valley is a very interesting little game made by Blue Isle Studios. Its running and jumping are exhilarating to feel, while its energy mechanic is a unique and intriguing system that has you literally sapping the life out of the environment around you. Is this a statement on our real life carbon footprint? Probably, but that’s not the topic of this article.
Blue Isle took a very gameplay first, story second approach to Valley. The story is told to you through multiple audio logs you find scattered throughout this 4 hour campaign and honestly, it doesn’t really matter. Your character is the only living person in the game and I could not make myself care about what the audio logs were telling me since it wouldn’t have any sort of effect on me for the duration of the game. If you care about the lore and don’t mind that you have to get all of it through audio logs, I’d say go for it. It just isn’t my thing.
Valley starts off a bit slow and at first, you may think you’ve stumbled into a walking simulator, but sooner rather than later your character finds a pair of mech legs and the game really picks up. The feeling of the movement paired with the beautiful, lush environments and music are the main attraction of this game. Well, some environments, others tend to be dull, brownish facilities, which aren’t a great compliment to some of the wondrous landscapes you venture through.
Gaining speed and jumping colossal gaps feels incredible, especially when you get into the sections of the map that you can just speed through. I caught myself thinking that this is probably what a first-person Sonic game would feel like. Unfortunately, this only works for the open areas of the game and I often had issues falling into rocks, walls, and even off of the map due to, what I think, feel like poorly thought out jump spots that make stopping or dying feel impossible to avoid. This happened to me quite a few times, and similar to Sonic, having your speed abruptly stopped feels really frustrating.
There’s a pretty cool energy dynamic in this game that has you giving or draining the life out of the environment around you. You can heal the wildlife and make trees grow back their leaves, while on the other hand, if you’re running low on energy, you can take it from some nearby wildlife or trees. It’s a cool idea, but it doesn’t really reach its full potential since there’s always energy pick-ups littered throughout majority of the game. I never really felt the need to drain life out of anything, making that mechanic feel a bit pointless. When you die, though, the area around you drains itself of life, which I really like as a concept. It kind of made me feel guilty for dying and I found myself running around the area trying to restore life to everything that had died.
There’s also combat in this game and it’s just okay. They’re few and far between and they all play out the same way. A evil energy shoots at you and as long as you strafe and shoot back at it, you’ll live through the encounter. I never really felt like I was going to die since their attacks move so slow. The combat isn’t really fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just kind of there. It exists is the most I can say about it.
Valley is a good game that isn’t exactly my type of good game. I can see this appealing to people who really enjoy how the game feels and don’t care about the story taking a backseat. The gameplay is clearly the focus here, and while I have quite a few issues with it, it’s still enjoyable when you have a good speed going. I would also say this game has some really interesting ideas that I feel like, if fleshed out, could be really awesome. Draining and giving life to the environment is a really unique mechanic, but there could be so much more done with it. The only thing I don’t really have any issues with is the music, which perfectly scores some of the mesmerizing landscapes of the game. Besides that, though, I wasn’t really feeling it.