Top Critic Average
I've honestly had a lot of fun reviewing Volgarr the Viking. Sadly it comes at the close of the life of the Wii U (It's also available on the Switch). However, in my opinion, it's an instant classic, which coming from a homebrew developer that is excellent.
Völgarr the Viking is a tough game that will see you die a lot. Many sections will be replayed often as you try to get through, but the game is always fair and whilst the solution to your problem may be tricky, it is at least obvious what needs to be done. A range of enemies and varied level design keeps the action enjoyable and even when you are struggling there are moments to make you smile, whether that's the way a charged spear sends the impaled foe flying off the screen or a Stan Bush-referencing achievement. The limited checkpoints in worlds are not ideal when trying to learn the levels, and there's the odd moment where the stylishly retro visuals just look basic, but there's little else to fault. For those seeking a stern old-school challenge on their Switch, Völgarr the Viking is an excellent choice.
Overall, Volgarr the Viking is a fun homage to old-school arcade action releases such as Super Ghouls N' Ghosts and Rastan, even having the chance to throw in some Castlevania. It's the right amount of difficulty as to present a challenge without feeling cheap or hard for the sake of being hard. It's a solid release that plays great and that offers more than enough content for it's asking price.
Volgarr the Viking is not the type of game I can enthusiastically endorse to all gamers. You must be a determined player, undeterred by repeated deaths (I died over 150 times on one stage). Also, the graphics and controls strictly adhere to the type of game you'd have found in your local arcade 30 years ago. As long you can look past those things (or embrace them), you'll find an deliciously tough and magical experience.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Völgarr the Viking and I think a lot of that came down to the nostalgic feeling it gave me whilst playing. Certain areas in the game were a bit bland and uninspired, but the gameplay is smooth and responsive, load times are non-existent so anytime you die you get straight back into the action, only to probably die again. But I think that you simply have to ask yourself if you are ready for the challenge at hand because at times it’s very unforgiving. If you stick with it, you will eventually have tons of fun.
Volgarr the Viking never quite encapsulates what makes a throwback 2D side scrolling action platformer fun. A ridiculous difficulty and cheap deaths hinder an otherwise beautiful and, what could have been, an engaging title.