Xenon Valkyrie+review for PS Vita, PS4, Xbox One

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: Cowcat
Developer: Cowcat/Diabolical Mind
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Even in a medium that’s as focused on graphics as video games, it’s important to remember that looks aren’t everything. There are plenty of other metrics by which a game’s worth can be measured: its gameplay, its sound, its story, and so on. Just because a game looks terrible doesn’t mean it’s inherently bad.

Or, at least, that’s what I keep telling myself as I play Xenon Valkyrie+. Because my goodness, is it ever ugly.

Some of this is by design (pardon the pun). Xenon Valkyrie+ is clearly meant to be an homage to the era of 8- and 16-bit games, and it embraces that with some eye-searing colour choices. I remember how prominent hot pink and teal were back in the day, and, in that sense, I commend the game for embracing its hideous heritage. I mean, I can’t say I like it, and it makes the screen feel a little busy at times, but it shows how far the game is willing to go to embrace authenticity that it adheres to such a retina-offending sense of style.

As for the gameplay itself, Xenon Valkyrie+ is fine. It’s yet another a tough-as-nails platformer, but it doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from its many competitors. Its controls are solid, which is definitely a good thing, but not exactly the stuff that rave recommendations are made from. Further, the game’s big selling point — that it’s a roguelite, which means every run-through is a little different — really isn’t that big a selling point at all when you realize that some of the procedurally-generated levels are essentially impossible on account of either platforms that don’t quite match up or enemies that spawn a little too much for the levels to be beatable with so little health.

Still, Xenon Valkyrie+ is more or less what it promises to be: a retro-tinged love letter to old school platformers. It’s probably not going to be the greatest thing you’ll ever play, but if the second half of the previous sentence is the kind of thing that’s relevant to your interests, it’s probably worth checking out.

Cowcat provided us with an Xenon Valkyrie+ PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: C+