In the black hole of condescending oversimplification and gameplay that has often extends no further than press X (sometimes multiple times) to win, there is an occasional exception to this mediocrity. In comes Volgarr The Viking
, straight from the bowels of Kickstarter
with the game they promised and even the stretch goal they failed to meet included. That caught my attention right away. Crazy Viking Studio
cared about this game. They wanted to make an impression. And for lovers of classic hack & slash action, this is the game they've been waiting for...
You, Viking. Everything wants you dead. Can you Survive? End of storyline. You want more than that? Remove yourself from that Ritalin induced stupor and make one up. This is how it was done. You create the story and imagine the whys, wheres and hows for yourself.
The game features pure arcade action. In the opening level, it's a clear homage to the original Conan the Barbarian
, from Taito. You'll also find hints from Altered Beast
, Golden Axe
, Ghouls 'n Ghosts
and others as you struggle to push yourself ever forward.
This game never gives you the thought that it's being cheap. While your hit system is modeled after Ghouls 'n Ghosts
, at no point is there the feeling you are being cheated. The control of our hero is very well done. Volgarr has a slow, deliberate movement with actions being slightly stiff. You know, like you were controlling a big Viking. Every move you need to make must be calculated to minimize the risk to yourself. If you avoid taking damage, the game rewards you handsomely for it. If you don't, you will be punished at levels that will frustrate lesser players.
Each level consists of 2 parts with a checkpoint between each. You die, you go back to the beginning of the stage or the mid-point. It sure makes the boss battles much more adrenaline infused as the thought of playing half the level again is both painful and infuriating at the same time. With so much at stake, there is that much joy when you complete the task at hand. Those unfamiliar with that feeling don't understand why older gamers still harken back to the games they may not have even played of their youth.
This is a title that will appeal to an audience seeking the best hack & slash arcade action available. That said, it's sadly a very limited audience. The sad fact made clear with none of the professionals posting reviews of the game. The only exception being TotalBiscuit's
video, which for someone who isn't learned at side scrolling hack & slash games, it's difficult to take his video with anything but a grain of salt. This style game is not his forte, yet there is very little negativity in his brief assessment.
I very much enjoy playing this title. The level of skill required to play this game with any level of competency harkens me back. The positive in this title is you can suffer death upon agonizing death without ever worrying about the dreaded game over screen. That is about the extent of modern design you will find with this title. The game will pummel you and laugh in your face as you get dismembered for the hundredth time. You cannot know pleasure, if you don't understand pain.