Thanks to COWCAT for the review code
Title: Xenon Valkyrie+
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 01/01/2019
Xenon Valkyrie uses pixel sprite art, and it’s nothing you haven’t really seen before, with tiny sprites for the characters and bigger sprites for the bosses. There are some pretty backgrounds and good looking character portraits though, so there’s still a lot of love and effort into the visuals and they look great, even the choice of art style isn’t that new. The soundtrack is also great, with some catchy melodies for each world and the boss battles.
Xenon Valkyrie is an action roguelike where the main goal of each run is to try and make it through several worlds to the final boss. Like a good majority of roguelikes, the worlds are randomized and you have to start from square one upon death, but Xenon Valkyrie has a lot of fun features that make each run incredibly enjoyable. To start a run, you choose between one of three characters, which each have unique starting stats. One has an edge in strength but less health, another has more defense and health but less strength, and the other is the most balanced of the three.
Each run starts you out in the first area of the game, and while all the layouts are randomized, the enemy selection and backgrounds are the same, meaning that if you get the hang of defeating certain types of enemies then they become a breeze to deal with. Defeating enemies will grant you EXP, which will lead to level ups and talent points to increase your stats. Unlike most RPGs, you have full control of your stat distribution and can spend the talent points on whichever stats you like anytime you clear a level. Want a ton of health and defense to take some extra hits, or want to sacrifice all that for extra Attack points to kill bosses faster? You’re free to do so.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a roguelike if the weapon drops weren’t randomized either, and that’s another layer of fun to Xenon Valkyrie. Each run has treasure chests that hide random weapons to discover, which can only be unlocked if you open it up with a key. (usually found as drops from tough enemies or in a shop) Once you open up a chest, you’re given the option to either put the weapon back or have it replace your current one, so you aren’t locked into a terrible weapon if you find a weaker one.
Alongside your traditional melee and projectile weapons, you also have two extra items that will come in handy during your runs. One of these is a set of three grenades, which can blow open tiles and lead to blocked off treasure, while the other is a radar that can help identify enemy health bars ahead of time. These are used with the shoulder buttons and while your radar recharges over time, the grenades do not, meaning that you’ll need to carefully manage them or hope that you find them in stock at the shop.
At the end of each world, you’ll fight a boss, although these bosses can be randomized too, meaning that the worlds won’t just stick to one fixed boss fight. Once you defeat the boss, you’ll gain a lot of currency and a Teamerite material and move onto the next world, where you can actually build a checkpoint for the sake of having that be your start point in a future run. This is a great mechanic, since while starting from scratch allows you to level up better and get strong equipment without much risk, starting from a later point can be used as a great way to speed through the game or challenge yourself. You can also turn the tides in your favor more by spending some of that rare ore on strong weapons for the random chests, meaning that with practice, you could easily get an overpowered weapon super early in the game and breeze through the early sections of the game. This layer of accessibility helps keep the game fun and addictive without punishing the player too much, which is a thing that I feel a lot of modern roguelikes sorely lack.
In conclusion, Xenon Valkyrie was a game that got swept in my backlog that I didn’t think much of at first, but upon playing through several runs and getting further and further each time, I find myself totally engrossed in this game. As an action platformer, the controls are excellent and the combat is satisfying, and the random elements here work great, shaking things up every time in a good way without making the game frustrating or too dependent on luck. With a good list of in-game achievements to tackle and ways to keep on trying until you finally beat the game, Xenon Valkyrie is easily one of the best indie roguelikes I’ve played in the past few years, and despite it’s simplistic look there’s a ton of depth here that makes it a worthy addition to your library.
I give Xenon Valkyrie+ an 8 out of 10.