Sons of Valhalla Review — Odin Calls

Though it can sometimes feel a bit slow, the gameplay in Sons of Valhalla is decidedly interesting and supremely addicting.
Sons Of Valhalla Feautred

The smell of salt and the sea in the air. Blood and fire are on the horizon. It’s a brutal age in which you live, where gold and land are free for the taking, as long as you have the grit required to go and take it. Sons of Valhalla beautifully depicts an era where violence was abundant, and you had to die in battle to reach the afterlife. It does this both with its stunning visuals and its tense gameplay, which can jump seamlessly through an easy raid of peasant land to a grueling uphill battle that seems to be stuck in an endless stalemate.

The first thing many players are going to notice about Sons of Valhalla is the absolutely stunning pixel graphics.

Sons Of Valhalla Cutscene
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

Sons of Valhalla opens with a beautiful cutscene of semi-animated pixel portraits of your character’s dramatic backstory. A rival Viking warrior has raided your home, your father killed, your love stolen, and the entire village left in ruin. Naturally, you set out on a quest for revenge and to save your wife from whatever horrible fate your rival has in store. The story takes a really interesting turn when you shipwreck, die, and discover that Odin has personally chosen you to change the world, and each time you die, you will simply be returned to Earth via the Bifrost.

Sons of Valhalla’s interesting story sets up the game’s somewhat complicated, definitely intriguing combination of mechanics.

At its core, Sons of Valhalla is a base-building strategy game. If you were interested in strategy games and found yourself playing flash games in the mid-2000s to 2010s, you know the type of title you’re in for here. Players start at one side of the screen and fight to push towards the right side. Killing enemies and collecting resources allows you to spawn and upgrade soldiers, who fight to capture enemy fortifications and turn them into further resource production areas. It’s a sort of push and pull of taking enemy forts and protecting your own as each side manages resources needed to spawn waves of troops to throw at the enemy’s walls.

Sons Of Valhalla Fire
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

This sort of classic tug-of-war style strategy game is combined with a beat-em-up as your heroic Viking leader takes the fight alongside your troops. You use some very light combo attack action and a block and dodge mechanic to push back against waves of enemies and tip the balance of power a bit more in your favor. Your character can be upgraded alongside your troops using a special currency that drops by progressing through key checkpoints, and at the end of each level, there’s a boss fight for you to tackle without the help of your soldiers.

The game even manages to throw a bit of roguelike action in there. You’ll occasionally find runes as you fight enemies, which alter how you fight or buff your production buildings or soldiers. Dying and returning to Odin, seeing you giving up one of your collected runes for the opportunity to return to life. Sometimes, this can really hurt, as you have limited rune slots and tend to stack up the best ones you can.

For the most part, I can say that Sons of Valhalla’s amalgamation of mechanics works. It’s an interesting and, at times, supremely addicting combination of mechanics that I easily found myself losing a ton of hours to. However, there are certainly areas I feel the game could improve on, and these improvements could be made across the whole mechanical board.

My biggest criticism of Sons of Valhalla has to be how quickly the enemy begins to feel like bullet sponges.

Sons Of Valhalla Smoke
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The first level of Sons of Valhalla took me about an hour to beat. Part of this was the difficulty that begins to ramp up as you reach the end of the level, but I figure most of this time was spent learning the game’s mechanics and which combinations of units work best for different scenarios. The second level of Sons of Valhalla took me about four to five hours to complete.

This may have been due to my poor start, but this level was almost immediately riddled with enemy units with gigantic health bars and priests that would continuously heal them. As the game features no direct upgrade to damage (you can only increase attack speed) and lots of health upgrades, this quickly devolved into very long bouts of my tanky units swinging against even tanker units until one side gave out.

The limited-player attacks, while they certainly play a part in turning the tide of battle, don’t feel super impactful on their own. It’s not very satisfying to see your big bad Viking hero trading hits with a tiny swordsman who takes about thirty seconds or so to fall on his own. At some point, it stopped being economical for me to make anything but spam power attacks, with their wide area of effect being more important than the actual damage they dealt.

I want to end this review on a high note by saying the boss fights are absolutely fantastic. While they, too, can suffer a bit from the sword-sponge massive health, they’re exciting, not too difficult, and feature supremely interesting characters. My personal favorite was the bishop, who was supremely animated and silly while still feeling like an actual threat with his use of the church’s pews as a weapon.

Sons Of Valhalla Boss
Screenshot: Try Hard Guides

The game even gets a bit easier when you have to fight a boss, turning off your need to sacrifice a rune when you die and letting you respawn immediately outside the boss chamber, which I certainly appreciated.

The Final Word

Sons of Valhalla cleverly combines several gameplay genres to create something utterly unique. Though the game can sometimes feel a bit slow, with its tanky enemies and low damage output, the beautiful graphics and addicting formula are sure to keep you playing for the long run as you rescue your love in this exciting Viking tale.

8

Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Sons of Valhalla is available on Steam and Epic Games.

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges

Erik Hodges is a hobby writer and a professional gamer, at least if you asked him. He has been writing fiction for over 12 years and gaming practically since birth, so he knows exactly what to nitpick when dissecting a game's story. When he isn't reviewing games, he's probably playing them.

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