Top Critic Average
I cautiously recommend checking Valley out regardless, because, dreary exposition, excessive darkness and a cruel and unusual checkpointing system aside, it does what it does with polish and expertise.
I greatly enjoyed my time in the Valley, and I can’t wait to dive back in to find all the hidden areas I missed. I’m certain most people, if not all, will enjoy their time in the Valley, too.
Legitimately, throughout the entire last three or so areas, I kept having to repeat to myself “Why in the name of all that is even remotely holy would you even CONSIDER designing something this way”. Extremely poor design/engineering practices aside, I did have fun going through the last few areas, despite my dwindling sanity, and the game as a whole just felt really good to run, jump, climb, explore, and swing through.
Despite a few missteps, Valley is an overall rush of an experience. Taking cues from BioShock with some Fern Gully on the side, there are few games that can claim to put players into the metal legs of an interdimensional necromantic freerunner, and be bloody infatuating while it does so.
The story from start to finish holds up very well and keeps you interested. The mixture of nature and a darker 60s era industrialism creates a very unusual theme. The level design could have been better, but the time you spend running around in the L.E.A.F suit is so much fun that getting lost is not so bad. The moral aspects of the game stand out very strong and will keep this game in your mind long after you have completed it.
A very basic and reductive way to describe Valley would be to say it’s a virtual jungle gym riddled with various toys and obstacles that are complemented well by the LEAF suit.
In a games market often trying to operate as either an endless buffet or a sticky-sweet dessert parlour, Valley is a satisfying meal that doesn't outstay its welcome.
Valley ticks all the boxes - gorgeous visuals, soothing sounds and tight controls. A solid narrative is just the icing on the cake. Despite being low on the difficulty scale, Valley adds enough original features to make it a worthwhile addition to the collection of any budding archaeologists out there!
The game features a full trophy count with a Platinum. As long as you explore everywhere to find all collectibles and make sure that you finish the game without ever letting the valley die, you should get your Platinum trophy at the end of the road. Overall, you’re looking at around 6-8 hours to get all trophies in the game, unless you mess up and don’t get all collectibles. In that case, you might spend an additional handful of hours doing cleanup since, unfortunately, you won’t know which collectibles you’re missing until you find them.
The first few minutes of Valley show a lot of potential, but it quickly falls short, and gives way to repetition, a bad narrative, and some downright disappointing game design. Lasting only 3-4 hours, $20 is a steep price for an experience that leaves you bored and frustrated as often as it proves to be an enjoyable experience.
Valley's heart is most definitely in the right place, and for the most part it succeeds in the execution of its gameplay mechanics. Unfortunately, the game's technical faults can't be ignored. The sloppy framerate in particular damages the experience far too much, and has held back what would otherwise be a great game.
Valley is also a bit misleading in its design. Although you’re in the great outdoors for much of the game, the path is surprisingly linear. Every little side path leads to a discovery, whether it’s a note or upgradeable materials. The game keeps you in line by running you up against rock walls, cliffs or water. There’s really no reason to explore once you’ve figured this out.
Valley is never going to be on anyone’s “Game of the Year” list, but it does have loads of potential. With a little more time in the oven and perhaps a bigger budget this could have been something special. Instead we are faced with a linear game that feels the need to offer value without committing to delivery.
Valley is a game of strong fundamentals that is mired by the execution of its grander ideas. Though it never comes together into a cohesive whole, it sometimes rises above the sum of its parts. I enjoyed playing it despite its issues, and I believe that Blue Isle Studios has a wonderful game in their future.
For those who can’t get enough of weird first-person treats, this will be a smorgasbord. For everyone else, it’s the perfect game to throw on for an evening’s worth of entertainment. Just don’t expect to retain much of it past your brief fling.
Valley’s answer to one of its main mysteries doesn’t quite satiate the curiosity it taunts, though it wisely leaves others unsolved. The questions it does pose it can’t answer, because no one can. That’s the siren Valley will use to carry you by the song of its story – though it is somewhat betrayed by its lack of mechanical prowess. I'm not normally one to be bothered by technical issues – I'm more concerned with messages and ideas, hence I can forgive a few breakdowns on the way so long as we get somewhere. Whether it’s a trip worth taking will depend on your tolerance for bumpy rides and the many spell-breaking hiccups curtailing the credulity of your experience.
The trouble with Valley is that it has to employ various design decisions in order for both the story and game to function. It wants to have adventurous aspects, but it also wants threats that players must combat. Being able to run fast and jump incredibly far is an awesome and satisfying experience, but it never grows to be anything more than that. The boss encounter towards the end is remarkable, yet also completely out of place. It's emblematic of a game that lacks a cohesive vision. A video game that involves superhuman exoskeleton suits, the ability to manipulate life, and takes place in and around a forgotten WW2 weapons research facility isn't something that can be neatly wrapped up in a five-hour long adventure. The music and graphics are quite excellent, though.
In moments of immense speed, Valley’s basic first-person platforming creates some excitement. But those are just moments, and they’re spaced too far apart with empty environments and forgettable combat between them. There are some interesting ideas scattered throughout the world but they’re very hard to care about, since there’s nobody around to be influenced by your actions. A seemingly pointless resource management system presents some interesting aesthetics, but overall, Valley very rarely presents the challenge or consequence it really needs to be addictive.
The visual stimulation is stunning, especially in the earlier portions of the game. Coupled with the enhanced movement abilities the L.E.A.F. suit affords, Valley is not altogether unenjoyable. The game had the potential to be quite impactful, making its failure to do so all the more disappointing. There are many good elements, but they’re too shallow and loosely tied together. The game fails to relate to anything the player could care about, leaving it immemorable beyond some impressive visuals and high-intensity maneuvering – hardly justifying its $20 sticker price.