By Steve Baltimore / November 15th, 2013
|Title: Valhalla Knights 3
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: K2 LLC
Release Date: October 15th, 2013
Genre: Action RPG
Age Rating: M
Valhalla Knights has always been seen as a mediocre series by many gamers, and I’ll admit that I played the first title in the series many years ago on PSP and felt it was decent at best. However, when I first saw Valhalla Knights 3, it looked to have better graphics and I thought some of the problems that I had with previous titles may have been ironed out. Let’s delve into the game and see if I was right.
To be honest, this story is about as paper thin as they come. You’re in prison for a crime you didn’t commit and the Beigen Empire has given you a task; to seek out a secret treasure of untold power. Should you fail, only the cold darkness of the grave awaits. The setting is very dark and hopeless; you’re trapped with no means of escape and your only goal is to survive. There are lots of twists and turns throughout the game, but there is nothing earth-shattering here. The side quests found in the game and some of the ladies you spend time with have interesting stories, but the main story is just enough to push the game forward and nothing more.
The graphics are not that great for a Vita game. I have seen much better-looking games on the console. They are not so horrible that they make your eyes bleed, but a little more polish would not have hurt. For instance, there are no mouth animations when characters are talking. Nothing in the environments, or on the character models themselves are very detailed. Though each different piece of equipment in the game has a unique look and is fairly detailed, they are much more so than the character models. Which is an odd design choice to me.
The music in the game is pretty well done. It really sets that medieval mood, though I felt they reused the same musical tracks way too often. The characters have a few phrases that they say during combat and cutscenes. There is really nothing special about them, though some are well placed and will give you a laugh. This breaks up some of the most boring dialogue I have read in a long time. The sound effects themselves are really very standard. Normal walking noises and clang and bangs of battle can be heard. Nothing is out of place, but there is nothing interesting about them.
The character creation system in this title is one of its best aspects. You will be able to choose from a few different races and several different classes, and more will become available as you play through the main quest. You can customize several different features of your characters such as facial features, tattoos, skin color, and even breast size for the ladies.
Some races will be better suited for certain classes than others. For example, dwarfs will make better fighters while elves will make better mages. This is pretty much an RPG standard. You will be able to distribute a set number of base points to each of the character’s basic stats. As you gain levels, you will earn more base points to add to your base stats. When you change your class later you will start back at level one, but you will keep all of the points you have obtained on your base stats.
Each class has their own skill tree, and as you complete battles you will earn Skill Bonus Points. As you amass these points, you can spend them to buy skills from the skills tree. Some of these skills will be new combat moves, while others will be passive skills that grant you other abilities. You will earn one special skill from each class if you master it. You can equip up to eight skills or healing items to be used in combat. These will be equipped to the four directions on the D-pad and the second set will appear by holding down the L trigger. You are able to equip four passive skills to your character as well. Once you have learned these skills, they can be carried over to other classes, as long as you equip the class you learned them under as a subclass. Your characters can have one main class and up to two sub classes.
Combat itself is your basic action RPG formula. You press the X button to do a normal slash attack, and you can press this three times in a row for a combo. If you press triangle you will do a couple of different thing depending on if you have a two handed weapon, or a weapon or shield on your off hand. For instance, with a weapon in your off hand, you will perform a little combo with both weapons, whereas with a shield you will just block or parry.
Monsters and enemy clans will appear on the field as you wander around. Enemy clans appear as one unit until attacked. After that, their true number will appear, and just like your own party they can have up to seven members. Monster units will appear in their actual numbers. If you see 5 slimes, then 5 slimes will be in battle. After the battle has concluded, you can examine the corpses of your fallen foes for spoils. These could be weapons, armor, or monster pieces that are required to complete some quests.
The game does feature a multiplayer component where you can battle other player’s clans in an arena. Doing this will earn you points for participating in online battles; these can be cashed in for some rewards. I did manage to get a couple of battles to work, but I had a hard time getting into a match. Once a match started, things functioned fine.
The prison itself functions as the hub for the game. This is where all shops, guilds, and various other places of interest are located. It is divided into two sections; a light district and a lower district. Think of this as a high class and a lower class. When you use services in the light district, from any of the shops or the guild, you will be required to hire one of the ladies that work there. You can get all of the same services in the lower district for free, but there are some perks to hiring the ladies upstairs.
Here comes the part of the game that will make some people feel a bit uncomfortable. As you use the services the ladies in the light district provide, you will build affection with them. When you have spent enough cash on them, used their services enough or given them a gift they like, you will be asked to play the Sexy Time mini game. In this mini game you will rub the ladies into ecstasy. Yes folks, you will be rubbing the girls on your Vita while they are making some, well, let’s just say suggestive comments and sounds. The mini game has some simple rules; the better you do, the more affection you build. When you have maxed out a ladies’ affection they will ask you on date, which is a simple quest to complete. After completing the quest you will end up, where else… at the hotel with them. You can guess where this is going for yourself. This may be the only time in history that every date has a happy ending. After a short scene they will join your party and give you a job card which will unlock a new class for a character. Though I found the mini game a bit out there, it was an interesting concept the first 6 or 7 times you play it. Then it gets old really fast. I feel that they really should have included an option to skip it.
In the end, after about 44 hours of playtime, this game is a good concept held back by some bad design choices. The graphics needed a lot more polish, the mini game is a bit over the top and will turn off some players, and the load times are intolerable at times. If you can look past all that there are some interesting quest stories, a great class system, and some fun combat. I cannot say this is a horrible game, but I cannot say it is a great game either. This one, pretty much, is my definition of mediocre. If you are starved for an action RPG on your Vita you might want to give it a go, otherwise I would say hold out for a better offering.
Game was supplied by the publisher for review purposes.
PSNValhalla Knights 3VitaXSEED Games