Xenon Valkyrie+ is a rogue-lite platformer that features RPG elements. You must fight to the deepest part of a moon and halt the plans of a wicked witch. In short, the game borrows a handful of beloved elements from the popular rogue-like title, Spelunky. However, Xenon Valkyrie+ brings enough nuance along with rock-solid gameplay mechanics to help it stand tall in the RPG/rogue-like genre.
Update 02/03/18 – PS4 Differences: I’ve gotten the chance to spend some time with the PlayStation 4 version of Xenon Valkyrie+. You can expect the usual PS Vita to PS4 upgrade; better resolution, runs slightly smoother, and the art style looks great blown up on the TV. There are no additional features or gameplay differences. The game is, however, cross-buy with the Vita and PS4. For me personally, I prefer a game like this on the go. However. I’m glad PS4 owners are now able to jump into this great title. Now, onto the original review.
As I mentioned before, Xenon Valkyrie+ takes notes from the game Spelunky. And before I say much else- if you love Spelunky, then this is game for you. In terms of how the two titles play, they are very similar in the sense of what your goal is. You want to infiltrate randomly-generated areas and collect minerals in order to upgrade your character and weapons. The further you get, the harder the game gets. Unlike Spelunky, there is no rope at your disposal. However, you’re able to climb up walls by tapping X repeatedly. You’re able to choose from three different characters from the start, all of which have unique weapons and move assets to take advantage of. My favorite character had the ability to do a high-jump, unlike the other two — it was great for getting out of deadly situations. Character abilities (besides sword slashes) are limited by either a cool-down timer or by ammo (for your gun, of course). Speaking of guns, Xenon Valkyrie+ lets you find new weaponry in a level, or buy new supplies like potions and bombs from the in-game store. Between the unique moveset of your character, your gun, sword, and the attainable character upgrades, there’s a lot to strategize over in this rogue-lite title.
In case you didn’t know, Xenon Valkyrie+ features a permadeath system just like Spelunky. While infuriating at times, it definitely makes for a greater gameplay experience. There’s nothing quite as intense as fighting a level’s boss and being near death but triumphing with a victory. The only downside is all of that happiness can be shattered with a poor attempt at slashing an enemy, which could lead to a death and the loss of all your progress. In short, the permadeath system can be a real buzzkill at times, but it just wouldn’t be the same without it. (although, an option to shut it off would have been a welcomed addition)
Charming & Challenging
In terms Xenon Valkyrie+’s presentation, its bright, charming, pixilated design looks great on the Vita’s OLED/LCD screen. The classically-styled art-direction combined with the high-quality chiptune music surely brings the world to life. While I didn’t find the story (or lack thereof) very interesting, the game’s overall presentation made up for that.
If you don’t enjoy games that are very tough, this isn’t the game for you. Xenon Valkyrie+ prides itself on how difficult it is, you might not even be able to make it past the first boss, as I couldn’t until after several attempts. In the same vein as something like Dark Souls, Bloodborne, or the aforementioned Spelunky; Xenon Valkyrie+ is for the hardcore challenge chasers. For anyone outside that ecosystem, the barrier to entry might be too overwhelming.
Xenon Valkyrie+ is a must own for PS Vita owners who love rogue-like games. It’s challenging, rewarding, and sparkles with charm. While the game might hurt itself in the long-run for being as difficult as it is, for anyone who’s up for the challenge, you’re bound to have a fun time.