Valheim is an interesting, survival-crafting experience that painstakingly pushes survival above fun.
What is Valheim?
Early access survival-crafting title Valheim is the first sandbox game on the scene from fledgling developer Iron Gate AB.
In Valheim, you start by creating your character and creating a world, very similar to how choosing a seed works in Minecraft. From there, you are introduced to the game’s overarching story, which is a nice feature for a sandbox title.
As players start out, they are introduced to tutorials as they come upon certain items and enemies, which is a nice way to introduce mechanics without feeling overbearing.
As a reborn soul, you are tasked with surviving the wilds and taking down the many bosses found throughout the world. To do this, you will need lots of crafting, good shelter, and plenty of food and equipment.
This is where Valheim begins to struggle a bit, for me, anyway, as it becomes clear early on that the dedication to purposeful crafting supersedes the game’s desire to be fun moment-to-moment.
Time spent: ~30 hours.
Valheim’s crafting system is really in-depth, and that can feel extremely rewarding at times, especially when you finally hit that next level of progression.
When I defeated the game’s first boss, finally got my first full set of armor and crafted a dedicated melee weapon, it felt great. It also helps that the artstyle is, personally, really interesting and fun to look at, that includes the designs of the weapons and armor.
The music is really well done, bosses notwithstanding. Valheim, overall, does a really great job of immersing the player when it comes to sound design and atmosphere.
For as much of a plus the crafting progression is, it’s also Valheim’s most frustrating downside. It becomes quite clear early on that Valheim puts an emphasis on grounded crafting systems to support progression than it concerns itself with the player having fun.
Some might disagree with that, and you have a much better chance of enjoying Valheim if you’re invested in those types of gameplay mechanics, but for my personal taste, it becomes a bit too much, too fast.
Playing off of that, the progression system, overall, could use a bit of tuning. It’s difficult to find caves where surtling cores are located, which is required to create a smelter and coal oven, which is itself required to make nails in order to craft a boat to even get to the next boss. That’s not even mentioning the amount of bronze you will need to craft the gear needed to take on said boss.
This level of stacking progression across multiple system is something I can’t get behind in any title.
It takes a while to really get anywhere in Valheim after the first boss. To put it into perspective, the first 10 hours were spent learning the mechanics and how the world works, preparing for the first boss, creating my first house, and getting my first set of gear, the next 10 were spent trying to get the next tier of gear, and that’s it.
Valheim is for those who enjoy the punishing-yet-rewarding gameplay often found in these survival-crafting experiences.
If you like the artstyle, and this type of gameplay you can get behind, then I think it’s worth checking out.
Bringing friends is definitely recommended, and helps to enhance the game a lot, but what game doesn’t become more fun with friends?
If you’re into the genre, then I suggest checking it out, by the two-hour mark, you won’t begin to scratch the surface of the game, but you’ll have a feel for whether the game is for you or not.
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