Embark on a grueling journey to discover a legendary weapon and save the world in this new Vita 2D action roguelike.
Xenon Valkyrie+ is a roguelite action platformer that bears more than a few similarities to one of my favorite games of all time; Spelunky. While Xenon Valkyrie never quite reaches the grand heights of Spelunky, it's still quite a great game.
When starting Xenon Valkyrie, you choose between three characters. All three play quite similarly and they're all equipped with a small melee weapon, a gun, and a unique special ability in the form of either an enhanced radar, a super jump, or a reusable timed mine. Aside from their special abilities, the biggest difference between each character is their starting stats. One starts with the most strength and HP, another has the highest defense and ammo, and the third is balanced between the two. I highly recommend new players to start with Nue (the ant guy) since I found his increased defense and large ammo capacity to be the most valuable.
After choosing a character, you'll be transported to a cavernous world filled with enemies. Similar to Spelunky, each level in a world is procedurally generated and consists of multiple floors to explore and you'll work downward towards an exit teleport. The enemy variety is rather refreshing and each and every foe can do some severe damage to you if you're not careful. Figuring out enemy attack styles and patterns is crucial for hanging on to your precious hit points.
You'll want to do your best to explore every floor and kill every enemy you come across, especially in the early going. Each enemy gives you XP and each level you gain allows you to boost your character's stats. There are also crates scattered around levels that contain cells which are used as currency. Unlike Spelunky, there's no time limit so you can freely explore, kill enemies, and collect cells.
There's a break room between most levels where you can upgrade your character, buy new items, and interact with NPCs. Items include potions, shields, and ammo and the four stats you can upgrade are HP, strength, defense, and ammo capacity. Even though defense is the most expensive stat upgrade, I found myself usually focusing on leveling it up first, followed by splitting upgrade points between strength and HP. After every 2 levels, you'll be face to face with a boss. Most bosses have recognizable patterns but they take a lot of practice to learn. As a result, you'll definitely die a few times but don't let that discourage you. These deaths will also be a good reminder that you need to do everything possible to power yourself up as much as you can in the early levels.
Xenon Valkyrie is a roguelike which means that once you die, you lose all your progress. However, as you improve, you'll find the levels to be rather short so each run doesn't feel like it's excessively long. There are permanent shortcuts you can unlock between worlds but these are mostly just useful for learning new enemy patterns because after using a shortcut, you won't be nearly strong enough to make significant progress so get used to starting all the way from the beginning most of the time.
Xenon Valkyrie has a plethora of secrets including hidden worlds and multiple endings. As you play, you'll discover how to unlock most of these things on your own but feel free to refer to my Xenon Valkyrie+ trophy guide which reveals many of the secrets.
As much as I enjoyed playing Xenon Valkyrie, there are definitely some issues that keep it from awesomeness. The biggest and most noticeable is the art style which comes off as muddy and messy at times. There's a bit too much going on with the visuals and it results in you missing details like crates and small objects. The relatively small PlayStation Vita screen compounds this issue but fortunately, it's PlayStation TV compatible and that's how I spent most of my time with it. Finally, platforming and general movement is a bit too slippery so count on falling off ledges inadvertently until you get the hang of it. The controls aren't bad enough to ruin the gameplay but they definitely require patience. Xenon Valkyrie+ is also very vague about a lot of things (which is common with roguelikes) so prepare to spend a lot of time figuring out where you're going and what you're doing.
Due to the busy art style and slippery controls, it took a little while for Xenon Valkyrie+ to get its hooks in me but as I improved, everything started to open up and I had an extremely enjoyable time battling enemies and searching for its rewarding secrets.
- + Challenging gameplay that is immensely rewarding as you improve
- + Filled with secrets to search out
- + Roguelike structure is implemented well
- - Messy art style with small characters and enemies
- - Slippery controls