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Review

Valley Review

  • First Released Aug 23, 2016
    released
  • Reviewed Aug 30, 2016
  • PC
  • XONE
  • PS4
Chris Damien on Google+

Gotta go fast.

Video games that nail the act of movement often allow you to flow freely and come down from a sprint naturally. Blue Isle Studios' Valley lets you build up exhilarating momentum while you sprint and leap through forests and fields, but your pace is too often interrupted, and trying to get back to that high level of speed takes longer than it should. Thankfully, Valley has more going for it, including fascinating lore pertaining to experimental technology, secret organizations, and unusual mythology. It's a brief experience with a few unwelcome pit stops, but you leave hungry for more regardless of the issues you experience along the way.

This first-person platformer puts you in the shoes of an archaeologist in search of the mythological Life Seed; an object with extraordinary power. Following a canoe crash, you surface in a valley that feels ripped out of a fairytale, sparkly sprites and all. As you make your way through it, you come across an exoskeleton--the L.E.A.F. Suit--that grants you incredible speed and grappling abilities.

The L.E.A.F. suit was originally used for excavation and research purposes during the first half of the twentieth century, which is revealed via audio tapes and written notes throughout the game. It's through these that you learn more about the valley's unusual past. The notes and tapes often correlate with specific areas in the world. For example, you might come across a message referring to a L.E.A.F. suit sports league right before you come across an area suited for the fictional competition, providing evidence that the valley was populated prior to a cataclysmic event.

Valley's environments make a striking first impression.
Valley's environments make a striking first impression.

The titular valley is home to friendly, pint-sized sprites, but it also houses two types of hostile entities: swarms of insects and a wizard-like creature. When you're engaged in combat with these foes, it feels more like you're casting magic as opposed to firing a gun, because you shoot out balls of energy to kill enemies. It's initially satisfying when you take several shots in rapid succession and hit your intended targets, but repetitive enemy behavior and animations lead to diminishing returns over time.

There are times when you're able to move at top speed and revel in the thrill of flying through the air while the environment around you whips by in a blur. However, the L.E.A.F. suit is too easily slowed by basic obstacles and hills. The suit's Magnetic Core ability also forces you to slow down to traverse metallic surfaces on occasion, an unfortunate shift in a game that's built for speed. Valley shines when you're charging forward, but it too often holds you back from going as fast as you'd like.

If you happen to die during combat or from a poorly planned leap, you respawn, but life in the valley takes a toll as nature--once verdant--fades and shrivels around you. Once it's drained, your game is over. However, it's not something you need to worry about; a few rejuvenating blasts from your suit is all it takes to revive dead plants and animals to keep your journey going. And as long as you don't fall off any cliffs or into significant bodies of water, it's unlikely that you'll die in the first place. Your life and ammunition both come from the same pool, and you regularly find orbs and power generators scattered across the environment. There's little at stake, and it's rare that you'll find cause for concern to begin with.

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Valley's multiple environments are generally good-looking and varied, with wide open spaces, claustrophobic underground caves, and industrial areas. With the wind at your back, it can be a fun world to play around in that's occasionally captivating to behold, and certain sections, particularly when you get the ability to run on water, feel momentous and exciting. Sadly, Valley occasionally suffers from framerate drops on consoles during hectic scenes, where the PC version proves far more stable. It never drops low enough to the point where it renders the game unplayable, but it's still disappointing when it happens.

Valley feels like a good first act. Despite obstacles that tend to abruptly kill your momentum, running and bounding through wilderness remained exciting. The world's history is so intriguing that I left wanting to know more. I didn't want the adventure to end, and like a jogger who's forced to slow down in the middle of a run, I was frustrated that Valley had to end so soon after it began.

Back To Top
The Good
Fast and fluid movement
Attractive aesthetic
Intriguing story
The Bad
Momentum is easily killed
Simple combat
Too short
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Mat finished Valley in just under 3 hours with a copy of the game provided by the publisher.
21 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
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Avatar image for Anteares
Anteares

Short game? Well, you can always go grind your life away in No Man's Sky.

Avatar image for yeknomdab
yeknomdab

@Anteares: ...or WoW, FFXV, Elite: Dangerously Dull, DOTA clones, etc. etc. Slapping on 100+ hours of "content" does not a good game make--as Yoda might say.

NMS has come a long way since release--certainly much further and more quickly than comparable games (E:D, ARK, etc.) You may want to check it out if you haven't played after the Foundation and Pathfinder updates. If you still find it to be a grind, then perhaps you prefer something with a more structured approach. There's nothing wrong with that. I play all sorts of games, and can usually find a way to have fun--even if it means playing something "the wrong way."

Journey was fairly short as well, but received a 9 & 10--if arbitrary number scores are your thing. Sometimes it's more about the experience than the number of hours spent.


Avatar image for RussellMartin
RussellMartin

They need to tell us that the video is game play and not a review. I don't like game play videos due to the spoilers... I trust the video reviews are not going to give too much away...

Avatar image for 69
69

@RussellMartin: While I think that it's stupid (and misleading) to have an embedded gameplay video (ie not a video review) at the very top of a review page, you can tell about 3 seconds after it begins to play that its just a gameplay video and not a review.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@bbq_R0ADK1LL: @slefo29: @megagene:

Really? There's an embedded video but it plays anything but a video review?

P.S. I have done a word search around GameSpot's Youtube archive and I don't get any video review for this game, and I don't really want to disable the blockers which I am using for this site (I block all of its videos by the way). In other words, I don't really want to confirm that for myself.

Avatar image for alien33
alien33

@Gelugon_baat: There is a video that is 11.34 minutes long, but I can't tell you if it's a video review or just gameplay because I'm at work and I have the sound off.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@alien33: That's the "Leaf Suit Manual" video. That's not the video review, and there isn't any either. If you look under this game's game-page, there's no video review in the listing of videos which concern this game.

Avatar image for bbq_R0ADK1LL
bbq_R0ADK1LL

@Gelugon_baat: Embedded videos within the article I don't mind. If it's at the top where a video review would normally sit, I get annoyed. Especially when I have to sit through some ad for something I'll never want, only to see a video that chugs on my work PC.

I understand that ads keep this website running but there are ways of doing it without annoying your readers/viewers so much.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@bbq_R0ADK1LL: Really, don't bother with videos on this site. Look at GameSpot's YouTube accounts (this one and this one) instead - at least the videos stream more reliably and can be downloaded with third-party browser tools.

Also, you don't have to deal with the ads if you just block the shit out of them: I know I do.

Avatar image for Purpledust
Purpledust

first time ever I see a review with zero commentary. I have to say I don't like it. Nerds will be like: OMGOSH READ YOU DUMB*** . sure... sure....

Avatar image for 69
69

@Purpledust: Its not a video review, it's just gameplay footage. The bulk of the reviews on this site, are not video reviews.

Avatar image for Pukshd
Pukshd

I'm skeptical about reviews, especially people who finish so quick (I didn't trust DS3 cuz seriously 23 hrs?)

Avatar image for juiceair
juiceair

Is there going to be a prequel called Peaks?

Avatar image for bbq_R0ADK1LL
bbq_R0ADK1LL

When a video is placed at the top like that, I expect it to be a video review.

Avatar image for slefo29
slefo29

@bbq_R0ADK1LL: That's because videos get 10x more ad dollars. Hence autoplay.

Avatar image for megagene
megagene

@bbq_R0ADK1LL: Same. They've been doing that a lot lately and it's really annoying.

Avatar image for DARREN636
DARREN636

combat almost ruined mirrors edge for me.

I'm curious about this game

Avatar image for ZwaanME
ZwaanME

@DARREN636:

Gameplay revolves almost purely around exploration and almost all suit upgrades are based around mobility.

There are no puzzles and there is very little combat, only some upset fireflies and forest sprites that you need to calm using energy from your 'God Hand' which can give or take life (bit like the TMD from Singularity). There is also kind of a boss fight, but by the time you reach that point you should be able to beat him easily. The enemies are mostly there to introduce a bit of tension and danger but they also serve an important role story wise. While the enemies can potentially kill you this is not very likely to happen. There have been a few occasions where I've missed a jump because I got flustered when an enemy suddenly came into view (happens especially when swinging), they pose almost no real threat. In short: combat isn't the focus of the game and if you're looking for a game that combines parcours with shooting and melee combat, you should play Dying Light instead.

Think of this game as a cross between a walking simulator (Vanishing of Ethan Carter, but less pretty) with limited interaction (mostly activating machines and picking up items) and Mirror's Edge. Or a cross between the setting of Shadow Complex (ordinary man stumbles across mech suit and finds upgrades which enable him to reach new areas) combined with the movement of a game like Dying Light.

While you can speed run through this game in under two hours (I guess, haven't tried it yet) I've spent about fifteen hours searching for the 180 or so hidden crates (about 20 per game level) and getting all of the achievements. The game has pretty big levels, especially the ones above ground, and with all the suit upgrades there's almost no place you cannot reach. You have to work hard in order to find the inevitable hidden walls and glitching geometry, though I've never actually fallen through the geometry or gotten stuck. It's a lot of fun just running and leaping through the environments.

The story (while predictable) is well written. A lot of questions that you will probably ask yourself about certain game play elements (like how you get resurrected after dying) or things you see in your surroundings are addressed by the (thankfully short but well written) notes and tape recordings you find. It's all a bit cliche but effective since everyone is long gone. By the time the end credits rolled along I had very little questions left and there were no loose ends left to tie story wise.

I enjoyed this game a lot more than I had expected, especially after reading the IGN review. The music and sound design is also good and perfectly matches the environment and situation you're in. The attention to detail, like the fact that you can see your own legs and also see your arms pumping when running are nicely done. I'm pretty impressed by what a small indie studio (about twelve guys based in Toronto) has managed to create within the obvious limits they must have had.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a game with parcours like movement, this will up your alley. Compared to Mirror's Edge it's a relatively easy and forgiving game since the only things that can kill you are falling into water or into an abyss (of which there are only a few). There are also no speed challenges or leader boards like in Mirror's Edge. If you're not a completionist I would advise you to wait until it goes on sale, but if you enjoy exploring and looking for collectables and completing achievements €20,- seems a fair price.

Avatar image for SsangyongKYRON
SsangyongKYRON

Worth a try and maybe a purchase once the price go down. WAAAY DOWN.

Avatar image for abhirajgoldy
abhirajgoldy

first time hearing about this game

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REVIEWLIES

what the **** is this?

Valley More Info

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  • First Released Aug 23, 2016
    released
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 4 more
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Players will pilot the L.E.A.F. exosuit, powering up their physical abilities to new heights. Explore a massive world -- dashing through forests, leaping between structures, and wielding control over both life and death.
    6.6
    Average Rating13 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Valley
    Developed by:
    Blue Isle Studios
    Published by:
    Blue Isle Studios
    Genre(s):
    Action, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen