The Vale: Shadow of the Crown
Top Critic Average
An audio-only RPG adventure which feels like a new benchmark for the genre, through challenging combat and excellent sound design.
What it does, it does well, and it leaves open a path forward where complex narrative structures are explored (The Vale has some branching, but like early D&D adventure modules, it's fairly on the rails), or the simple puzzle forms are complicated and expanded. There's plenty of overhead to play with new forms of audio puzzles entirely. And while I wished some of that was in this game itself, perhaps leaving space for the next game is crucial-experimentation should never be final or definitive. But for now, Falling Squirrel has crafted a brilliant next step with The Vale.
A unique design concept and a grand adventure await those who venture into The Vale: Shadow of the Crown with some of the finest use of voice acting to date, but those without adequate audio resources might have an incomplete experience.
Lend the Kingdom of Glades your ears in the action-packed audio-based role-playing game, The Vale: Shadow of the Crown. You play as Alex, a blind princess and a skilled combatant, who aims to save her beloved lands from an unexpected evil.
Brilliantly merging RPG mechanics in a compelling, immersive audio-based experience, The Vale: Shadow Of The Crown is easily the most original, innovative and unique game I’ve played in 2021 so far.
Overall, I can’t recommend Falling Squirrel Inc.’s The Vale: Shadow of the Crown enough. It’s more than just a video game, it’s an experience that blends in a real world issue with a well balanced gameplay system that just works. Well written and narrated story mixed with an easy to pick up yet hard to master combat system all while seeing nothing more than particle effects on a screen, it’s a reminder that there’s still so much more we can do for those with disabilities.
Personally, I’d love to see more games like The Vale: Shadow of the Crown in a wide range of settings. This game helps prove just how widely games can reach and how many players can be brought into the fold. Even with some plot that felt middle-of-the-road, The Vale’s framework sets a great example for zero-vision games. I hope it’s one of many to come.
The concept behind The Vale: Shadow of the Crown is so simple and genius that it's a wonder that it has never been done before - though it's worth noting that this iteration is done incredibly well, gracefully sidestepping many of the potential pitfalls of its conceit. The combat has a few frustrations that could use some ironing out, but they don't detract from what is a compelling and unique video game experience.
There’s nothing lesser or limited about The Vale. It’s a fully realized experience that could only work in an audio space, and I sincerely believe it's going to inspire a lot of people to reexamine their beliefs about what a game has to do or be. If this is the beginning of indie audio games, I can’t wait to see where the genre goes from here.