Valheim (Iron Gate Studio, Coffee Stain Studios) is a survival game, sandbox, and open-world released in early February for PC (Steam) and has generated significant buzz ever since. Valheim sold almost 6 million copies Just over a month after the release, and it keeps going. What is it that’s unique about Valheim that grabs us in this way?
You start by creating a potato-looking Viking and are thrown into the afterlife (i.e., the wild), where everything is hostile. We have to collect materials and food to survive and improve the quality of life. Hugin, a large crow, guides us from time to time with tips on what to do so you don’t get too lost. We have to challenge the gods and survive and what makes Valheim so addictive is the possibility of doing what you want. You can spend hours building structures, or exploring different biomes, with dungeons and abandoned houses. Or even accept the challenges of defeating massive creatures.
The many biomes have different levels of difficulty and enemies with other aspects that turn small expeditions in search of food into real challenges for survival. One feature that conquered and frustrated me at the same time was hunting. Hunting a deer has realistic elements, the noise that scares it, the way it runs away. And the rewards, of course!
Valheim’s simplistic combat system is similar to other action games: regular and special attacks, and dodging. This game also has the most annoying stamina bar I’ve ever seen. The various foods collected give different effects, such as more HP or stamina. The energy and the hunger bar are also influenced. Some components are too realistic, such as the loss of HP due to exposure to smoke or things falling apart if not supported.
Valheim takes elements from several well-known games and delivers a unique adventure that turns into a collective and creative experience. It reminded me of Minecraft with nordic mythology, except with the freshness of more refined gameplay. It even has some aspects of The Sims, such as the surrounding environment influencing the character’s comfort. Or even Sea of Thieves, with the possibility of navigating to other parts of the map (HUGE), exploring caves, facing (or fleeing) sea monsters.
One thing that bothered me about Minecraft was creating a new character for each map I made. There was one where I played alone, others where I played with different groups of friends. It annoyed me intensely to repeat the same things: build a village again, go to the nether, make elytras. In Valheim, you can play with the same character (or create a new one) on several maps and servers and can transport the inventory between them.
Additionally, it is possible to play single or multiplayer mode on open servers or with friends, with a maximum of 10 players per map. You can also activate the PVP mode, which I didn’t try, as I prefer PVE with friends.
It is a game still in development, with some breaks in performance on weaker computers.
Valheim immediately got me going with such an outstanding soundtrack. It is a shame it’s so repetitive, as it only has half a dozen tracks, in particular, if you stay for too long in the same biome, which, on the other hand, also encourages exploration.
Valheim has extensive longevity; the options are endless and can always provide a different experience. Besides, you discover new things every day, even when starting a new game again. Learning is also relatively quick for those who are familiar with this genre. The humor that is found in each piece of the game keeps the excellent mood. Whether it’s unlikely events or even descriptions of items and tools.
All I know is that I quickly started wanting to play only Valheim. We are still in early 2021, and it is already evident that Valheim is a strong candidate for awards. The only thing I really felt was missing was also a Nintendo Switch version!
Gamekey kindly provided by dev/editor.
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