Another review by Joe’s Xbox Name
“Rise, warrior!” The Norse God Odin commands. A mighty Viking warrior rises from the earth with sword in hand. On the right side of the screen a chest awaits. Upon opening, a shield adorned with the mighty hammer Mjolnir presents itself. The weapon, thrust into the open air, collides with a man sized lizard; splitting his skull in twain. Continuing forward you find yourself at the edge of a clearing that overlooks a treacherous amazon. Who knows what other unnatural beasts lurk beneath the brush. For gold and glory you must press on. For you are Volgarr the Viking.
In the same vein as Taito’s “Rastan” (1987) series, Volgarr the Viking is a side scrolling plat former. Death defying leaps and countless enemies stand in your way as you progress from the left side of the screen to the right. Like Taito’s side scrolling arcade classic it is also gruelingly difficult. You will die frequently. And with a lack of checkpoints, frustration will most likely ensue. But Volgarr is a learning game. If you persevere you will begin to understand what traps lye in wake and how to avoid them. Power ups such as armor and weapons are available to lend a hand with the punishing difficulty as well. But this game is unapologetically hard.
Plat forming is well executed. A similar jumping scheme to Capcom’s “Ghosts ‘n Goblins” (1985), you have the ability to perform a jump and a double jump that go a fixed distance and direction. Over pits and lava, jumping from one platform to the next must be carefully executed as you choose when and where to initiate double jumps. Volgarr also has the ability to throw a spear and create a new mini platform upon the surface it sticks into. This mechanic plays a vital role in reaching areas that may be inaccessible to a simple double jump or when facing certain enemy types and boss encounters. Although frustrating at points, the plat forming is a well-crafted aspect of the game that doesn’t stray far from what is tried and true.
Graphics in Volgarr are reminiscent of PlayStation era side scrollers. Pixels can be individually identified and have been selected from a large brightly lit pallet. Combined with artwork evocative of Dungeons and Dragons, Volgarrs graphical style invokes feelings of nostalgia and gaming of long since passed. Excellently executed, it is hard to believe that this game came out in 2013.
Volgarr is not without pitfalls. First of which is that you cannot resume progress after quitting. There is a save system that holds your place from world to world but it is severely glitched and does not work most of the time. Luckily, like its predecessors, Volgarr is a short game and can be easily run through in an hour or two depending on your familiarity with the levels. Second, there are abilities that remain relatively unexplained. What is the significance of warrior spirits? What is the power of Mjolnir? These and other unanswered questions ultimately had to be researched with a few brief forum posts and help from the community to get a full grasp of how they would play a role in my experience with the game. Finally, as with most plat forming titles, there is a relatively no story. These drawbacks are easily overcome but dampen the experience.
Despite these setbacks, Volgarr is quite enjoyable. A love letter to a forgotten niche, it provides pulse pounding action and a level of challenge that hasn’t been seen in quite some time. Responsive controls and fantastic level design combine to make Volgarr the Viking a must have for plat forming and retro gaming fans alike.
Graphics: 8/10 – Emulates games of yesteryear accurately.
Sound: 9/10 – Solid sound effects and an epic soundtrack with guest performance by Sonic Prophecy.
Gameplay: 9/10 – Frustrating at times but fun and rewarding. Clear hit boxes and level design help to make the challenge fair.
Lasting Appeal: 8/10 – Although short, there are secret levels and three different endings to keep you coming back.
Achievement Score: 1000/1000
Overall Score: 9/10