(So, I bought a new game… because I’m totally running out of games to play, and needed something new… /sigh)
I first noticed Valley in the new releases page of Steam, and it was the banner image that caught my attention. I watched the trailer to find out a bit more and I felt that familiar, tingly feeling in my wallet.
The music. I love me a good bit of instrumental, orchestral music, and I was digging what I was hearing. The aesthetic. The look of the game world I thought was quite stunning. The gameplay. Running, jumping, flying through the air. I think I might actually play, and enjoy, this game (is what I kept telling myself), and while I held off buying it straight away I eventually succumbed to temptation and bought myself yet another game, destined to sit on my Steam shelf unplayed. Or was it?
To me, Valley is reminiscent of games like Mirror’s Edge, Fallout, Portal, and Firewatch, each for different reasons.
The movement in this game can be amazing, something I find similar to Mirror’s Edge. It’s almost like a forest based free-running/parkour movement system that I found myself getting right into from the get go. There was a bit of stop/starting occasionally in order to track down some hidden items, and also just to explore, which stopped some of the more fluid moments, and eventually I just decided to enjoy the ride. When you start building up that speed though and leaping over (and through) trees… boy does it feel good. What helped build this sense of energy and excitement was the music. In those moments where you built up your speed and made some incredible leaps and bounds, the music followed. It matched beat for beat until the final moment when you arrive at your destination. Very well done, I must say.
Fallout is a game series that I’ve pretty much just watched other people play, but I must admit I love their trailers. There’s something about that old propaganda, post-war look and feel that I can get behind and Valley takes a leaf out of this book. It’s possibly set sometime in the 50s (maybe? certainly post-WWII), and you stumble across a L.E.A.F. suit (Leap Effortlessly though Air Functionality) that was being designed to help power super soldiers in an effort to win the war. You find it in an old crate next to a broken down army truck, and when you slip it on you get to watch a cool, old-timey, instructional video. Neato!
Without giving anything away, I was also slightly reminded of Portal 2 while playing Valley. There’s a descent into an old facility, listening to audio recordings as you progress… There are some similarities. Oh, and getting upgrades to your L.E.A.F suit throughout the game was a great way to build on the gameplay elements as the story progressed.
Finally, Valley hit me in a similar way that Firewatch did about 6 months ago. The fact that when I first started playing Valley I played it for 2 straight hours, had a breather, and then came back for more. The fact that I finished the game. The fact that I really enjoyed myself. I don’t play a lot of games, but I knew that this was a game I was going to finish as soon as I sank 2 hours into it without realising. The last game this happened with was Firewatch, and I’ve got to lay the blame on the story. It may not strike you at first but as you make your way through Valley, you’ll feel it. You start questioning what’s going on, you want to find answers, and the only way to get answers is to keep playing. I’m starting to think I like a good narrative in my video games. Also, games that aren’t particularly long.
At the end of the day, while Blue Isle Studios may have taken inspiration from a number of other games, Valley is it’s own game. The visuals, the sound, the gameplay, and finally the story, they all come together to make an awesome experience. I may have finished the main story but I’m looking forward to getting back in and discovering more secrets Valley has to offer (because apparently you can do that, which is pretty cool).
- Title: Valley
- Platform: PC/Steam
- Release Date: 24th Aug 2016
- Purchase Date: 31st Aug 2016
- Completed Date: 1st Sep 2016
- Playtime: 6h