Xenon Valkyrie + on the PS Vita is an ambitious little bugger. It’s a rougelike, platforming shooter with RPG elements wrapped inside a Spelunky inspired Metroidvania title. I think that just about covers it. Does that inspired combo make for fun game? Keep reading to find out.
The sci-fi story goes something like this: You and your trusty crew mates are the last hope of a planet that has been taken over by an evil witch. You’ll have to get to deepest part of the moon to thwart her dastardly plan. You can play as any of the crew, including the typical tough guy with little dexterity. Or maybe you’re like me, and prefer the quick, nimble character with little strength. Despite these varied attributes and the aesthetic differences, I didn’t feel the game played that much different with any of the different characters.
Before you begin the mission, you’ll have a chance to chat with a few folks who tell you what you’re up against and how woefully undermanned you’ll be. And they aren’t kidding. Armed with a melee weapon and a gun you’ll progress through the level, mainly going down. In true Spelunky fashion, the goal here is to go as deep as you can. On the surface, Xenon Valkyrie + is a platformer, so the controls have to be tight. They aren’t perfect, but I found them slightly above average. For the most part, when I died, I had no one to blame but my own inferior skills.
The blocky little enemies are varied and it’s crucial you learn how best to deal with each kind, because the game isn’t very forgiving. I died. A lot. Dying is fine, but losing everything you’ve gained while doing so? That’s a little rough. I know, I know, it’s a roguelike. Pain and frustration comes with the territory. The lone exception to the “I just lost everything…again…and life is a flat circle, why do I bother” game, is Teamerite, a rare metal that you can trade in for much-needed weapon upgrades.
You can temporarily upgrade your character mid-level by killing everything in sight and gaining XP and raising your level. If you’re lucky, you might also stumble on improved weapons, grenades etc. This is a must, if you don’t want to be slaughtered by the every-third-level boss. You don’t want to be slaughtered do you? The bosses I fought looked cool, but were otherwise fairly basic for games of this nature. Some of them were initially confusing as to where to attack. Thankfully, after discerning attack points and the boss’s attack patterns, most could be dispatched without too much trouble. The real trouble is when they do kill you, back to the very beginning you go. And you could say goodbye to all of that hard-earned XP and levels.
As the game chews up your highly-pixelated corpse and spits you back up to the beginning of the level, don’t expect the benefit of grinding through the same level again, as each level is procedurally generated. This staple of the roguelike genre has its upsides and it has it downsides, and I’m sure you have your opinion on this matter already set in stone. I won’t be attempting to chisel away at your love or hatred of the genre or this particular element, other than to say that in Xenon Valkyrie +, luck plays some role in how fun this next level is going to be.
On the surface, Xenon Valkyrie + has everything a platforming roguelike should need to be an addictive good time. And I did have some fun, but in the end, as I descended deeper and deeper, I just found myself wishing I was playing Spelunky, instead.
Xenon Valkyrie + PS Vita Review
There are some things to like in this ambitious game, especially if you like platforming roguelikes. In fact, I suspect diehard fans of the genre will eat it up. For me, grinding through similar levels grew frustrating quick, and it was a reminder that they're other games out there that do this better.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.