Game Info:

Valhalla Hills
Developed By: Funatics Software GmbH
Published By: Daedalic Entertainment
Released: December 2, 2015
Available On: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS
Genre: Strategy
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: Single player
MSRP: $29.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Funatics Software for sending a copy of this game to review!

Valhalla Hills is a strategy game centered around Vikings and Norse mythology. You control a group of Vikings and build up settlements to survive the harsh mountainside environment. There are a mixture of monsters and wild beasts that roam around and must be contended with. After building a thriving Viking settlement you must head to the top of the mountain and open up the magical portal to Valhalla. Once opened the portal presents you with the choice of fighting the portal guardians or offering a sacrifice to appease the gods and gain access.

The first thing I noticed about this game is the whimsical art style. I'm always dubious of cartoony approaches to graphics because so many games do it so poorly, but this game does it well. The character models, buildings and scenery are all brightly colored and there's a cohesive design with everything in the world. The lighting is carefully crafted to accentuate the colors and shapes. The torches on the buildings are a nice touch and give a great cityscape feel during nighttime. All of these aspects work together to create a very pleasing scene to look at. The music is very charming; I just wish there was more. I enjoy all of the sounds and music that are in the game, but after a couple missions it begins to get repetitive. Unfortunately other aspects of the game can also get repetitive.

Valhalla Hills

Strong Points: Variety of building options, amount of unlocks, able to play with all unlocks at the start
Weak Points: User Interface is missing vital information, levels can get tedious
Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence, prominent Norse mythology

The gameplay overall is fun and engaging, but it lacks in depth. I went into the game thinking it would be somewhere between Civilization and Sim City and was somewhat disappointed. At the start of the game you make a profile and choose either Classic mode or Open mode. Classic mode has you unlocking buildings and units as you go through missions. Open mode means everything is already unlocked. I spent most of my time in Classic, but played a few maps in Open mode just to see what I was missing. While each map is different in terms of size, shape, steepness, and creatures, the objective is always the same. You build up forces so you can go to the top of the hill and defeat the portal guardians. I really enjoyed assaulting the portal. I built up little Viking strike teams that traversed dangerous terrain to reach the portal. Then I established a base camp and sent in reinforcements as necessary to take out whatever monsters lay beyond the portal. There is also the option to offer a sacrifice to the gods consisting of a large sum of a resources, but that route never felt as rewarding. 

After a few missions you unlock enough buildings and units such that you can do the same build order over and over again and win. I'm not exaggerating; I built the same exact 6-7 buildings in the same order for a dozen or so missions. The issue is that it takes multiple missions to unlock a new building and you might not even be able to use that building on the next map because of the random terrain. Open mode is where fans of this type of game will find most of their enjoyment. There's a great variety of buildings; you can set up a city that makes sense, instead of one that simply beats the mission. It's possible to build massive Viking settlements, transforming an untamed mountainside into a Viking metropolis. My biggest challenge when playing in Open mode was working with the user interface. 

Valhalla Hills
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay - 13/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 72%
Violence - 6/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 1.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

The user interface in Valhalla Hills is lacking some key elements which makes playing the game more of a chore than it needs to be. The most glaring issue is that there's no information regarding build progress. There's no bar, no timer, nothing; you just have to wait for a building or unit. Eventually you get an idea of how long a building or a unit takes to finish and can plan accordingly. The resources are also inexplicably split up in the UI. Some of the more important ones, like wood and stone, are on the main UI pane, but lesser used ones like sticks and coal are two clicks away. This becomes especially confusing when placing a building to be built; the resources aren't immediately subtracted from the total because the worker Vikings have to carry them to the site. Multiple times I couldn't figure out why my building wasn't being built and only later I stumbled onto the other resource window and saw I was missing sticks. 

Valhalla Hills is a great little game if you enjoy city builders and Vikings. I do caution that the game is deep into Norse mythology. You call down your Viking settlers of Valhalla, which is very pagan, but also eliminates any potential sexual content. Your Vikings fight monsters from Norse epics and you can offer sacrifices to appease Norse gods. The violence in this game is limited to animals, mythical creatures, and the undead. There's no blood or gore featured in the game. I definitely enjoyed my time playing and could see other people who are more into the genre losing a lot of time in this game. I just wish the UI was better designed and that each mission felt meaningful. 


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David Grue

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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