There seems to be a lot of fascination with Norse mythology lately. I suppose we have Marvel and Disney to thank for that. If they hadn’t put Chris Hemsworth into a Thor costume and provided a perfect Loki, I doubt very much that we’d have so many titles that focus on Vikings and the Norse gods. Even the latest God of War game pulls Kratos out of Greek mythology and places him in the middle of the incredibly terrible gods of the nine realms. If you’ve played any games related to this theme you’ve probably heard of Valhalla, the supposed end of Asgard.
In Die for Valhalla you take the persona of one of four Valkyries who are named as the four seasons of the year. I picked Fall because I just like that season the best, with its nice crisp and cool air. There doesn’t appear to be anything different between any of them, so maybe you’ll choose based on your favorite color or what have you.
Die for Valhalla is a side scrolling two-dimensional hack and slash beat’em up. You can choose the Viking that you want to play as and each tribe has a unique blend of warriors that have specific talents for their clan. You may want to play as a Volva and cast some spells or as a Thrall and have some wickedly fast hack and slash gameplay. Interestingly, you can also possess barrels, mushrooms, brush, or whatever inanimate object is around. The benefit of doing this is that it does a little damage to surrounding stuff and things when you exit the body. The game made me chuckle a little when they give you little tips between your levels. They say that if you lose a Viking, just go ahead and get another one. Kind of like if you lose a pencil, just forget about it and get a new one. Some Vikings are worth hanging onto for as long as you can, however. One of my favorites had the Gjallarhorn and could summon a few helpers to combat the nasties with you. Then, when they die you can play as them if you wish.
If you’re wondering if this is a good game for a ten-year-old boy, I can honestly say that it is. My son, Micah, loved it and wanted to play for longer than he typically wants to play a game with me. He kept going on and on about how fun it was. I must take that into consideration because he has good taste in games so far for his age. He told me that I should give it a ten because of how much fun he was having. Then I started doing my typical critical look at the game with him and started pointing out a few things to him explaining why I couldn’t do that. So, spoiler alert. I didn’t give it a perfect score.
One aspect of the game that I thought was cool was the level advancement of your Valkyrie. It’s not complicated by any stretch of the imagination. You basically select a perk that sounds the best to you. As an example, they may give you an extra bit of damage when your health is low or something along those lines. After you select that, you have several runes that you must select from a grid. The twist is that the enhancements that you choose must be in one of the four directions around that square. So if you pick poorly, you may end up getting less of your runes to affect your character’s traits than you may want. There are perks that allow you to select a blank square in the beginning and they may add extra points to either the first one after that or add extra points to all of them you select in the process – simple yet effective.
I always like to talk about the graphics of games before I get too far into my reviews. The Interwebs are full of videos and screenshots so I assume that many of us are as interested in how a game looks as much as we are about how it plays. The most important aspect is, to me, how well the game controls. That said, if it looks like someone threw up in your Switch that may be more of a turn off than anything else. Fortunately, that’s not the case here. I love the character designs and am extremely pleased with the different areas that you get to visit. Each new realm has a unique look to it, which is impressive because sometimes games of this nature get repetitive in the art department rather quickly. They did a really good job mixing things up. The enemies are well varied and each has their own special ways of trying to kill you, as well as weaknesses waiting to be exploited.
I enjoyed the music as much as the theme while I played through the different areas. The soundtrack has that Norse feel to it that kind of seems to go along with a lot of titles that focus on action and melee. The beat drives the gameplay and rings a little of Skyrim and does its best to keep you locked in and wanting to play more. There are no voice actors in this game and they allow you to skip many of the story scenes between levels if you choose to.
The largest complaint I have about Die for Valhalla is the amount of times the game chugs on the Switch and slows the framerate down for a few seconds to an unplayable level. I noticed it most when I was playing coop with my son and whenever either of us blew the horn and summoned more Vikings. The controls would become less responsive and I would take a considerable amount of damage during this infection. They clearly didn’t optimize the game very well for the console we played. It’s disappointing because it’s very fun, especially in coop. I think I have been spoiled by Lego games as well. You kind of get used to the magic split screen they employ so well in their titles. As your players get further apart, the screen splits in unique ways. Not so here. So, if your buddy is anything like my son and doesn’t like to stick together, you may become a little frustrated that you can’t keep moving along while they scratch their nose and stand there for a bit while off-screen enemies are attacking you.
This is a good game for those who like to have a little mindless brawler action whether at home or on the go. The possession mechanics are good, and the action is challenging, but not rage inducing ridiculous hard. With a little patience you can get through any boss even if it takes a couple of tries. It does feel a little grinding during the “kill rooms” where you have a timer and they want you to take out as many waves of enemies that you can. The Valkyrie leveling-up system works well and has a cool twist to it where you select from a group of perks to apply and then selecting health, defense, and other categories on a grid. It’s just as fun to play in local multiplayer as it is alone, so it’s a good choice for those looking for a fun pick up and play game to kill some time.
Die for Valhalla was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.
Jay has been an avid gamer since the Intellivision days. His hobbies include building PCs, 3D modeling and printing, and spending time with his children and dog.