I take a look at Xenon Valkyrie+ by Cowcat games and Diabolical Mind! Will it blow me away like Riddled Corpses?!
Good afternoon my fellow weekend backloggers!! I know right?! It’s the weekend, so why am I heckin’ posting on a day like today? You know, instead of being a couch pomme de terre (that’s potato in french) and playing a butt ton of Devil May Cry 5 and whatever else I do on the weekends? Well I’ve been a bit sick so exercising my brain and fingertips was out of the question. That and I’ve been being a butt potato (wait what?) for the last three days and I gotta get all these thoughts out my brain before I have to go back to work on Monday!
So, although I’ve been playing Devil May Cry 5 to my heart’s content, I’ve also been pouring my pixelated soul into Xenon Valkyrie+! If you don’t recall, it’s that 2D side scrolling roguelike type game brought to us by the fine folks over at Cowcat Games and Diabolical Mind. The exact same devs that floated my zombie shoot em up boat with Riddled Corpses EX. And even though I have a ton more to talk about with regards to that devilishly handsome trio, I thought I’d set aside the time today to do Xenon Valkyrie+ justice and give unto all of you my impressions on it!
From Riddled to Rogue
Xenon Valkyrie was originally developed by Diabolical Mind and released on Steam in 2017 and later picked up by Cowcat games and ported to the PS4 and Xbox One in 2018 and finally the Switch in 2019. When comparing it to Diabolical Mind’s other games it follows many of the same aesthetics. That is, it’s packed to the brim with cute and colorful sprite work, along with a healthy dosage of action and a smattering of bullet hell boss fights! Which is exactly what made me want to pick this game up. That and I absolutely loved Riddle Corpses EX. The only difference with Xenon Valkyrie is that instead of it being a pure run and gun with some RPG elements, it’s instead a run based rogue-like with perma-death and very little character progression persistence.
If I was to compare it to anything, the first game that comes to mind is Spelunky. Except maybe a little less refined. It has everything that made spelunky fun like procedurally generated dungeons, a variety of weapons, secrets to uncover and death traps to avoid. But it also has a few frustrations that if massaged and reworked a bit, could have really made this game a true hidden gem. Things like your attack range being a little too shallow, or your hitbox being difficult to determine. Very often I found myself running into enemies or bullets when I thought I was out of range. Or the fact that I’m unable to see what those fancy accessories I’ve been collecting actually do! I mean, I’m sure they help me in some way, but not being able to tell HOW they help you makes finding them a little anticlimactic. Luckily, all of this is offset by some of the more unique and fun aspects of the game.
For one, as you explore the depths of the futuristic dungeon and fight enemies you’ll gain experience (talent points) that can be used to level up your characters. Of which you have three to choose from. Eloen, the “default” character and the one you’ll see in the key art of the game, has average stats, comes with a key at the beginning of each run and uses a timebomb as her sub-weapon. Which, definitely comes in handy if you’re trying to find each and every treasure on a given stage. Nue, the frog-man who does reduced damage, but has a super handy high jump as his secondary ability and finally Renna – the power house. She does increased damage and has a sonar device as her secondary ability that will highlight all treasures and enemies on the map.
After flip flopping on each of the available characters, I’d probably say that Eloen is my favorite to use. Her average stats are actually not that much of a detriment and the fact that she gets that timebomb makes her the best option for exploring. And although Nue and Renna have their uses, their abilities and default stats don’t make enough of a difference to make them worthy choices. Also, after leveling up, you can pretty much handle anything the game throws at you. Especially if you focus your talent points on your strength and defence (which I definitely recommend).
Unfortunately, like every other rogue-like out there, nothing lasts forever. Because as soon as you die, you lose all your progress, all your levels and all your equipment. Which, if I was to be picky about one thing about Xenon Valkyrie+, that would be it. There is very little persistence in the game. Short of the one resource you’ll collect by either beating bosses or buying at the store for a high price. And that’s Teamerite. Which, honestly isn’t all that useful. Or, at least it’s usefulness is a double edged sword. You can use it to unlock powerful weapons, but then you aren’t guaranteed to be able to find those weapons while you’re playing the game. Remember, all item drops are completely random! You can also use it to buy some robot drones to assist you on a run, (once you find the character that sells them) but once you die you lose them as well! Such a precious resource, flushed down the drain!
Technically, Teamerite, isn’t that difficult to collect since the bosses are quite easy, at least compared to Riddled Corpses. I mean, you can take them out in a few swings if you’re leveled up properly and their bullet patterns aren’t very hellish. Which means they are easy to predict and dodge. The only real challenge is the time it takes to get there. You can ease this a bit by using the teleporters you’ll find after each boss fight, but I’m not sure if they’re really all that useful. They may let you skip earlier stages and you’ll get a few talent points to spend (depending on the level you choose) but you’ll miss out on all the money and possible weapon upgrades that could help you in the later stages.
Now, I know that’s what roguelikes are all about, but the rogue-lite games out there like Rogue Legacy mitigated many of these frustrations by giving you true persistence. So when you level up or upgrade your weapons they stuck with you on subsequent runs. Which means, if you play it long enough, you’ll eventually be able to beat the game. And I think that’s what Xenon Valkyrie really needs. More persistence in your progression. Make me feel like I’m actually making progress and I can guarantee I’ll be motivated to play more so I can see all the cool things this game has to offer! The only thing Xenon Valkyrie+ really has to combat this is it’s fun graphics, upbeat music and the fact that it seems relatively short. So it won’t take too much effort to see the end, even if I can’t hold onto my progress.
All in all, I think Xenon Valkyrie+ is a fun and easy to pick up game that showcases the potential Diabolical Mind has for creating addicting and intriguing roguelikes. But when compared to other games of it’s ilk, it’s lacking a few things that could make it a real gem. I would definitely recommend it to any fan of the genre, especially if your looking for something different or if you’re a fan of Diabolical Mind’s other works. But, for those that don’t like permanently losing your progress, I’d probably just stick with Riddled Corpses. If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself, you can find it on all three major consoles today!
The Atomic Number of Praseodymium is 59
Well my friends, that’ll do it for today! Another fun game from Diabolical Mind and after doing some research, I see that they did actually make a new rogue-like game called DemonsTier! And it came out this year!! I’ll definitely have to pick that up sometime and report back on how it stands up to the previous two games we’ve played from them!
And speaking of demon’s, be sure to stop by again on Monday where I’ll be getting back to my regularly scheduled shenanigans and of course my next stream of consciousness for Devil May Cry 5!
Until then, have a great rest of your weekend!
Mario + Rabbids (Switch) – The Trio
Devil May Cry 5 (PlayStation 4) – Me
Xenon Valkyrie+ (PlayStation 4) – Me
Graveyard Keeper (Steam) – The Wife
Total Backlogged Games: 734 … The roguelike of numbers
Total Completed Games: 14 …No progress made, just like Xenon!
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