Volgarr the Viking - Xbox One

Release Date:

31 October 2014

Viewing UK:

Also on USA.
7.9

Summary:

Volgarr the Viking was developed by the appropriately named Crazy Viking Studios for release on the Xbox One. Volgarr is a side scrolling action romp that puts you in the fur clad boots of Volgarr, a Viking warrior. The action platformer focuses on destructive action in a palatable way that emphasizes simple controls. We love platformer games but the recent surge in their popularity, especially on the Xbox One, has made us almost jaded when we see them repeatedly pop up in our list. Still, there are ways to make these games well and for independent studios it could be a key to their long term success.

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Posted:
2015-07-16

Steven_Shaw

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Xbox One

7.9

Volgarr the Viking was developed by the appropriately named Crazy Viking Studios for release on the Xbox One. Volgarr is a side scrolling action romp that puts you in the fur clad boots of Volgarr, a Viking warrior. The action platformer focuses on destructive action in a palatable way that emphasizes simple controls. We love platformer games but the recent surge in their popularity, especially on the Xbox One, has made us almost jaded when we see them repeatedly pop up in our list. Still, there are ways to make these games well and for independent studios it could be a key to their long term success. With that said, we picked up Volgarr the Viking for the Xbox One and dove right in. Keep reading to see if you will too!

Upon booting up Volgarr we couldn’t help but be reminded of the glory days in throwback Nintendo gaming. From the simple color palette that looks so basic now (and would have been revolutionary back then) to the side scrolling element and simple controls, Volgarr is definitely an homage to a different time. In fact, it is a spiritual remake. Rastan was released in 1987 and it followed the journey of a big brute of a man as he killed lizard people and collected mounds of treasure while doing his best Conan impression. Volgarr is a reboot with a new topic as the center, Vikings.

When you first start your game you will find the difficulty level to be almost nauseating. Volgarr himself can only handle two damaging hits before he dies and you get sent back to the beginning of the level. Your enemies are aggressive and they are quite populous. Your moves aren’t that powerful yet and simple things like navigating through the level will become difficult. Enemies are in all of those cheap spots that you just can’t stand, like right on the edge of a ledge that you have to climb up to. To put it simply: get used to dying, at least for a little while. Add on to the fact that there is only a single checkpoint to plug into every level and you have the makings of a very frustrating experience.

But the frustration isn’t warranted, not in our opinions. What could be construed as frustrating in our minds is better served as educational. With enough deaths or enough patience you can begin to unravel the little patterns that make up Volgarr’s core. Once you know the patterns of a level you should have no problem pushing your way through and getting into a good rhythm. The deaths you do end up grabbing will never be unfair or cheat worthy, but they’ll still be aggravating. In fact, even decent gamers will have to spend quite awhile (upwards of an hour or so!!) to get through the first level. Now that is insane difficulty, but it is also emblematic of the time that Volgarr is drawing from. Back in the days of early Nintendo , games were ridiculously tough and you had to beat them or put them down.

The story in the game is pretty simple stuff with the idea of conquest being at the center of every action that you take going forward. Volgarr is a brute of a man that can kill just about anything that gets in front of him. And much like in games like Castlevania, many creatures will line up in front of him. Volgarr has to rid the world of a dangerous dragon after being commanded by Odin to undertake the quest. As Volgarr you will journey through five different worlds and each one will be unique when set next to the other. This means that each world has its own set of monsters, traps, treasures, and more.

While the set up for the story is bare bones, the game play puts things on an even more stark level. As Volgarr you can be killed in one or two hits unless you find your way into the possession of some special armor or a blessing from God. If you end up running across gear in the game you should do everything you can in order to get your mitts on the items.

While combat is important in the game it has to be considered an auxiliary element. Combat is relegated to a simple button map configuration: you can swipe your sword, jump, or throw a spear. With only these three actions at your command you can unlock a whole world of actions. Double jumping is your primary means of survival and navigation and spear throwing can be used as a combat technique or a platform raising technique. Sword play is probably what you will spend most of your time doing, in error, though it is super dangerous to have you in range of dangerous enemies.

Volgarr is definitely a love letter to the classic gamers out there. The slightly pixelated, hand drawn aesthetic definitely reminds us of the late 90’s and early 90's though it seems intentional this time, and not a product of the time. Despite the retro look the fluidity of the animations is as good as any other modern platformer and that alone sort of kills the illusion of retro gaming. Still, it looks nice.

While combat will get your heart rate up it is the platforming portion of the game that will push you as a skilled player. You have to precisely time all of your jumps in order to advance with one poor jump leading to your death. Getting the hang of spear throws also goes a long way toward helping you navigate, so get used to throwing them around.

Our favorite aspect of the game is that there is so much content. You can brute your way through the game and get the traditional ending but if you take your time to unlock all of the treasures you can also unlock a completely new set of maps, virtually a second entire game for Volgarr.

Volgarr the Viking is an entertaining platformer that exists to frustrate gamers. If you love hard tasks and simple gameplay, pick this game up.

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Crazy Viking Studios

Release Date:

31/10/2014

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