Valdis Story: Abyssal City

To quote a song from one of my favorite musicals, “The more you love someone, the more you want to kill them.” That’s how I felt about Valdis Story: Abyssal City.

Valdis Story is an action platformer with RPG elements thrown in, not at all unlike Muramasa: The Demon Blade if you’ve played that. You choose a character to play through the game with and complete missions or quests for NPCs. Experience is granted based on monsters you kill, and loot is used to craft items.

This game is pretty.

This game is pretty.

The characters you can access right away are people caught in a war between angels and demons, a war where people forced to fight for one side or the other. There are renegades who are trying to stay out of the conflict, and you had a ship full of them before it crash landed. Now you are trying to figure out just exactly where you are and where your missing crew members may be found.

The graphics and music here are beautiful. Everything looks hand-drawn and is reminiscent of Capcom’s work (which I say as a compliment). I love trekking through each new environment to see what it looks like, and the character art is beautiful. Everything looks like it was carefully created to stand out and to look amazing. The music for each area is really fantastic. I admit, I’m terrible when it comes to talking about music, but I know what I like and I like this. That, too, is a compliment.

With exploration comes special powers, such as wall jump or speed burst, some of the typical fare for such games. Many of your other powers, bonuses, etc. come in the form of a skill tree system that you build upon with each level gained. Examples of what you’ll earn as you make your way down the skill tree are small increases to hit-points, combo attack bonuses, and damage increases.

Skill trees.

Skill trees.

Combat is similar to that of brawlers. You’re able to rack up combos and are graded on how well you do during boss fights. Avoid getting hit or kill the boss quickly, and you’ll gain bonus XP and stats. Melee combat feels pretty good overall and there are strategies to learn the best way to take down each enemy faster.

There is a magic system within the game as well. As you progress you will learn new spells that you are able to assign to your character. They include offensive spells, spells that aid you in reaching things, and defensive spells such as a ray of light, ice block, and restorative shield.

All of the above? That was me gushing to neutral. The following is me getting more and more upset.

Action games typically have an invincibility period built-in for when the player is hit, usually lasting up to a few seconds. This allows them to reposition or try to figure out what their next move will be to overcome an obstacle. Valdis Story doesn’t have that, and it leads to very frustrating situations when a monster shoves you up against the wall and you have no way to fight back, letting them essentially stunlock you until you die and have to resume from your last save point. Little is more frustrating than dying to something when all you can do is flail, hoping your button mashing will do something but ultimately failing.

Another frustration I had was actually something that I stumbled upon by having a ridiculously busy, and unexpected, end of year. If I was able to attack this game all at once over a few days, which I prefer, I wouldn’t have experienced this. The game has no way of reminding you of the controls when you have to put it down for long periods of time. Some of the controls, particularly those for magic, are not intuitive at all. You’re left flailing around, hoping that you’re not forgetting anything important as you move about. The guidance system the game uses to tell you where you need to head next is a bit too vague. For example, “Go west to [location].” The map branches so that there are multiple wests and areas are not labeled, leading to player confusion.

valdisstory_042Controls aren’t always as sharp as they should be for a platformer with boss fights where you need quick movement. One such boss fight had me racing around a room to avoid falling poison clouds while avoiding pits of poison (the fights are thematic). This wouldn’t have been so bad but there were many, many instances of my character refusing to automatically grip ledges as it is supposed to do, causing me to fall into poison. In another fight, you have an onslaught of attacks coming your way, all of which should be avoidable. However, because of how clumsily your character moves when you’re trying to be quick, such an attack will give you one second to respond but the jump you started before the attack takes 1.5 seconds to execute, leaving you completely vulnerable and unable to avoid the incoming damage. I’m not accurately conveying the huge rage fits I was having while screaming at the game. “FUCKING GRAB THE LEDGE!” “THE FUCK? THERE IS LITERALLY NO WAY FOR ME TO AVOID THAT!” “FUUUUUUCK!” It was approaching Angry Video Game Nerd levels.

I loved this game but there are some strong rage-inducing aspects that make me leery about suggesting it. At $15 it’s not a bad commitment and I’m sure they’re working on some updates. Definitely get the soundtrack, however; it’s pretty good.

Final thought, I won’t say that all of my rages above should be fixed but I’d to give a second chance review if the controls are fixed at the very least.

logo_valdisstory

Valdis Story: Abyssal City was developed by Endless Fluff Games.

“Ruv…and hate…, they rike two blothers, who go on a date.” -Avenue Q.

The game’s $15.

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3 Responses to Valdis Story: Abyssal City

  1. I’m halfway through my second play through (using Reina on Hard mode this time,) and I love the game. I haven’t had may problems with the controls. While it’s certainly a Metroidvania, it feels more like a fighting game to me, where you need to be precise in the timing of button presses and jumps. I definitely got a little annoyed at the ledge grabs during the fight with the boss in the Engineer’s Palace.

    You can action cancel + dash out of a lot of stun lock situations. Cancels don’t regenerate while you’re attacking though, so you have to mix in some downtime in your attack patterns.

    I’m shooting for S-Rank on all of the bosses. (Seven down so far.) It’s a really different experience from my first go, where I was just trying to survive the fights.

    • AxelMill98 says:

      Yeah, it’s kind of like Dust: An Elysian Tail for the Xbox and PC (speaking of which, try that, reviewer!), it’s a hand-drawn hack and slash Metroidvania with RPG elements. And I like that.

      • Dust is a little bit of an older release and I prefer Indie Gamer Team to focus on new releases if possible, or at least stuff from within the last few months. However, if Sab plays Dust and enjoys it, she’s more than welcome to write it up. It’s one of my most requested reviews. I don’t know why I passed on it. I think maybe I got warned about epilepsy for it.

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