- Pixelated world
- Chiptune soundtrack
- Random-generated levels
- Great for handheld
- Losing character stats, weapons
- Merciless gameplay
- No saves
- Menu screen
PlatformPlayStation 4, Vita, Xbox One, PC
DeveloperCOWCAT Games, Diabolical Mind
GenreAction, Adventure, Permadeath, RPG
File Size (Minimum)87MB
Release Date (NA)Dec 19, 2017
Xenon Valkyrie+ is a rogue-like, permadeath game with role-playing-game (RPG) elements integrated into the gameplay that makes it challenging and frustrating at the same time. This pixelated-style game was originally a Stream-only game title “Xenon Valkyrie” from early 2017 and was brought over to the PlayStation Vita with the help of COWCAT Games.
Fly Me to the Moon
There’s a choice between three character heroes when you first start the game and each having a unique ability. Eloen, a ponytailed girl can use unlimited time bombs. Renna, a pink-haired girl can use a radar to track monsters that holds a special key that can unlock special weapons. Nue, a lizard-type humanoid can jump to extreme heights.
Each character also starts off with a sword, a gun, and 3 grenades. With Eloen having the ability to use unlimited time bombs, it’s odd that they would still choose to give her weapons that are so similar to her ability instead of giving her a unique one.
Even if only one character has a super jump ability, all characters can still climb back up the stage by jumping off of walls. The character’s gun ammo and grenades are limited and can only be reloaded by purchasing supplies in the game’s shop.
Using the sword requires you to be up-close to your enemy. Most of the time you’ll get hit while on the offense. During gameplay, Nue is the best out of the three to use as he can avoid enemy attacks. It’s not clear on why he can avoid most these attacks or if the creators simply made him a stronger character but he is the top character to use nonetheless.
Welcome to the Dark Side of the Moon
Most games today gives you a tutorial on how-to play. Xenon Valkyrie+ does not and lets you figure it out on your own. Before you start your adventure, there’s a home base where you can choose your character, a portal to jump to a specific level (meeting requirements), another portal that takes you to the first level, and a station where you can purchase high-leveled weapons. High-leveled weapons require a certain amount of Teamerites. Teamerites are a key-action currency can only be obtained from defeating bosses and purchasing from stores.
Beware of Adjusting
When starting a level, you’ll go through a labyrinth to find a teleporter. The teleporter will transport you to a remote base where you can purchase items and cash-in your talent points (TP) to increase your health points (HP), VPA (ammo), strength, and defense.
Once you use a TP you cannot get it back even before confirmation is complete so you’ll want to be careful. If any adjustments were made, giving the option to either proceed or cancel should be available for the player.
After leaving base, you’ll enter stage 2 of the level. The mission stays the same, travel to the teleporter, enter another remote base but leaving will take you to the level’s boss.
No Gun. No Abilities. More problems?
During the boss fight, you’re limited to your sword. Guns and special abilities are disabled. While the bosses have a simple pattern, only fighting with a sword makes it much tougher. On top of that, the pressure of it being a permadeath game, means you can’t mess up. Getting killed means game over.
Once you defeat the boss, you teleport to another remote home base. Here you are given the opportunity to beef-up your character’s stats and build a teleporter. Building a portal can take you to the next level and available at the home base (before entering the first level). However you’ll need a certain amount of teamerites, money, and keys. Without these, you can’t build a portal and with the game having no save points be prepared for a continuous adventure.
Additionally, after defeating the boss, you also can receive medical attention, however, the game continues to be brutal as you’ll receive little health back.
Many games will give you multiple lives except this one gives you only one life. When you die you start all over from the beginning of the game. Every item, weapon, gained level, and character stats are all gone. You start back at the beginning at level 1. However, Teamerites and built portals remain. But hey, at least there’s a digital library of all the cool weapons you picked up that you wish you still had.
When you start a new life or turn the game back on, you’ll be back at the beginning of home base. However if you have a portal built after completing a level, you can teleport to any of those that were created. Before teleporting, the game will hand you a few TP to help boost your stats. Very generous but not quite enough to help get through the game’s level.
Being a permadeath game, expect to have your frustrations build. The permadeath style of gameplay brings back memories from classic Nintendo games such as Contra and Mega Man. But even those games gave more than one life and checkpoints.
While the game was created to bring difficulty to the player, keeping at least character levels, stats, weapons or money after dying would help the playthrough… or at least the creation of a modern-day Game Genie. Maybe a secret key command like the Konami code built into the game would be an interesting easter egg to unlock benefits for the player.
A Whole New World
When making a return to each level, the map is randomly generated to a new layout. Chests and enemies will appear different places so you will always get a fresh layout on each playthrough. Additionally, level bosses will switch between two so you will not always face the same enemy.
When you pick up special keys, you can open up large coffins to gain better weapons and accessories such as an upgraded sword or whips. As a tip, don’t spend all the keys before the boss fight as you will need them to create a portal to get to the next level.
Beginning of the End
Even the game has various endings. Each character will have their own ending depending on how you play. Breton Fabrice, owner of COWCAT Games has mentioned that earning the Platinum trophy (completing the game at 100%) would be “very tough to get”. He’s not lying. You’ll have to spend quite some time to master the flow of the game to win those trophies and get through it. Rushing through will get you killed, taking your time works better but slows the pace of the game.
The game’s pause screen feels weak and buggy and the character stats in the menu are only for show, not interaction. You’ll have to hold the pause button down if you want to keep viewing the character’s stats however, while viewing the menu, you can still move the character around and enemies can still attack you. So essentially, the ‘pause’ button doesn’t really exist in this game.
The ability to switch between items, adjust character stats, or an option to return to base to help level-up your character would be a benefit for the game if they added it to an interactive character stats menu. In fact, having an option for an ‘easy’ mode would be a bonus for those who are looking to get accustomed to the gameplay or be able to complete levels.
Compatibility Not Always a Plus
Xenon Valkyrie+ is compatible to the PlayStation TV (PS TV) but suffers some frame rate issues. You can also expect the pixels to be a bit blurry or distorted. Playing on the PlayStation Vita feels more comfortable and plays better for this pixelated world.
Cool Beats Bro
The game’s chiptuned soundtrack brings the nostalgia feel of the ‘80s and ‘90s into the game and flows well with each level. The music is well worth it’s purchase if you enjoy this style of music.
Xenon Valkyrie+’s random generated levels, entertaining soundtrack, and the pixelated design makes the game a good addition to your library, especially if you are using a PlayStation Vita. However the game’s merciless gameplay makes it tough to finish.
A PlayStation Vita review code was provided by COWCAT Games for this review.