"Valdis Story: Abyssal City... is one of the most enjoyable game experiences I've had in ages. I played through the half-hour demo twice and was left wanting more."
It would come as no surprise that I play plenty of games. Considering you're reading this, chances are you play a fair few too. If you're like me, then I suspect you enjoy most games you play, but it's only from time to time that one stands out among the others as special. This week I had a chance to play the demo of upcoming action RPG Valdis Story: Abyssal City, and it was one of the most enjoyable game experiences I've had in ages. I played through the half-hour demo twice and was left wanting more.
Valdis Story sets the scene with a war between goddesses who use human souls to create and fuel their soldiers. The goddess Myrgato commands demons, while her twin sister Alagath directs an angelic host. Unlike many other fantasy stories, neither of these forces is interested in protecting the mortal race. As a result, the human population is dwindling. Our hero, Wyatt, is following a trail of clues he believes may allow him to end the goddess war and save the remaining humans.
The demo gave me access to the first half hour of the game and a choice of two playable characters: Wyatt or Reina (there will be more after release). Wyatt is both a capable swordsman and magician, able to combo in melee or cast magic from afar. Regular attacks are either heavy or light and can be strung together for satisfying combos. Wyatt has access to light and dark magic that can damage enemies, heal himself, and even improve his damage for a short time. These can be swapped in and out from the menu, and are cast by pressing the magic key and pushing the appropriate direction. Reina has similar talents, though she has shorter range with her unarmed attacks and different magic, such as short-range teleportation and barriers.
In essence, Valdis Story plays like a Metroidvania game, with the usual interconnected zones and platforming, but adds enough new features and quirks to set it apart. During the demo, I gained an item that allowed me to wall jump and another that deactivated magic barriers temporarily. These were fun to play around with, and there were plenty of hidden items and secret areas to discover. For completionists (like me!) there's even an item encyclopaedia. Enemies drop various materials that can be used to buy items from shops, too. Collect the right combination to buy new equipment, along with health and mana upgrades.
The combat is fun, fast-paced and flows beautifully. Leaping around platforms and slicing into enemies with devastating magic and combos is fantastic. There were two bosses to fight in the demo, and they were both brilliant. The first was a fast-moving fighter who could throw fireballs like Donkey Kong throws barrels, and the second a heavily armoured beast whose forcefield must be broken. This brings me to my only major complaint: the controls. The default keyboard controls are horrible and incredibly difficult to coordinate during intense moments. Fortunately, these can be rebound or, even better, Valdis Story supports a gamepad. Once I plugged in mine, everything was more manageable. This reduces the near game-breaking controls to a smooth experience.
As you beat down enemies, you gain experience and level up. Each character has a similar, though unique, skill tree where you can assign points to increase attack damage, armour, and so on. You can also assign ability points to specialise your character in strength, magic and the like. Building characters differently, along with the different events and dialogue for each, looks like it will provide solid replay value. At least in the demo, however, plot differences between characters appeared to be minor.
One look at the screens should show you how gorgeous the game looks. The vibrant colours and dark shadows bring the game alive, and navigating the stylistic terrain is a joy. Animation is smooth, and the variety in enemies shown in the demo is outstanding. The only peculiarity is that Wyatt always has a strange, disgruntled look on his face. The music was just as great, notably the fast-paced boss music and, combined with the graphics, it truly drew me into the world.
Valdis Story is a game to be excited about. It's due for release within the next month, so keep your eyes peeled. At the moment, the game will be purchasable directly from EndlessFluff, but it's also on Steam Greenlight for you to check out. For more information, and a link to the demo, take a look at the official blog.