More so than any other genre, I think action RPGS are decidedly either really, really good, or really, really awful, and I think this all lends itself to the idea of actually stomping through a 30 hour plus adventure and feeling that you’re either satisfied with your quest or that you’ve wasted your time entirely. Well, sad to say as it is, but Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga, a Wii exclusive that’s spawned from a couple of PSP games, is definitely the latter, combining a boring ass story, drab, clumsy graphics, and an outlandishly bad combat system that is so horrible that it feels like I’ve created a time machine and traveled back to 1998 when Nintendo was discussing the combat controls of The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time before they actually got it right.
Let’s start off with the storyline though, shall we, as even though most people would probably say that that’s secondary to the magic and the combat controls, I think it’s the most important aspect to any RPG, especially if they’re hoping to keep me interested for copious amounts of hours. Many years ago (Oh, and by the way, even the person telling the story sounds like he’s ready to take a catnap), a meteor shower hit the earth and a whole bunch of monsters came out of it. So now, humans, elves, dwarves, and, yawn, any other stupid looking creature you’ve read about in The Lord of the Rings or picked out as a character in WOW, have formed an alliance and have pushed the creatures over into the world of Eldar, and that’s where you step in as a thief, a fighter, a mage, a bard, or a priest to save the day. I’d be lying if I told you that by this point, I wasn’t already rolling my eyes and groaning, but I was. Groaning hard.
We’ve SEEN this story before. Yeah, maybe not the meteor unearthing long dead monsters part, but the whole Middle Earth creatures wandering around and killing things, yeah. We’ve seen it and we’re tired of it. Add something new and exciting to the mix, folks. Maybe say that the meteor spawned organisms that have made the village susceptible to telekinetic powers that are so powerful that people have gone insane from the new affects inside of them, or I don’t know, something other than elves and warriors and goblins and anything else out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical valise.
I mean, the characters aren’t even likeable. You’re able to customize your own hero, making it a dude or a dudette and picking out their job class, which is one feature that I actually like. But your monotone character is just dumbly nodding their head like an idiot in any of the drab and mundane cutscenes that advances any semblance of a storyline that happens to be in this quest. In that sense, you can never connect with your character in any meaningful way, so scratch that off for the interesting characters category.
And don’t even get me started on the combat. Sure, later on in the game (If you even get that far, I had to force myself), the spells add a pretty interesting layer to the combat, but melee attacks are a joke. Often times, you’ll start tapping the attack buttons, miss your target, and be flailing away at the air as your enemy is stabbing you in the back or poisoning you. It’s a feature that by this point in action RPG territory shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Targeting your enemy doesn’t help, either, as you’ll still find yourself missing like a drunkard and getting injured. If anything, this is the most irritating part of the game. Not being able to hit anything. It really boils my potatoes!
And the graphics are puke ugly. I’m well aware that the Wii is like, last-last gen in regards to graphics, but this is ridiculous. Often times, I sat in awe at how I felt like I was playing a Nintendo 64 game with its muddy visuals, blurry pixels, and ugly character models. More so than any game I can remember playing on the Wii, this one is definitely one of the worst looking yet. Granted, graphics aren’t everything, especially in an RPG, but these graphics almost make me feel bad to play the game. I feel like somebody tried and failed miserably to add atmosphere instead of just empty space and barren terrains.
Now, I’ve been hating on this game for quite awhile now, but it’s not ALL bad. As I said before, the job system is pretty cool. While I didn’t play through all of the classes very long, being a mage IS different from being a fighter, so at least they got that right. Also, the co-op mode looked pretty cool. Sadly, I didn’t get to try it (Chalk that up to not just being able to go online to find people but having to input stupid friend codes and the like), so, if you’re looking for an action RPG with a pal and can actually find somebody who can forgive the graphics and horrible combat controls, then give this game one more star, as I hear there’s a whole new quest if you can go about it with a partner. Also, at $40, it’s pretty cheap for a full RPG. Then again though, you’re paying $40 for a pretty crummy game, so just think about that before you purchase it. Overall, Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga is pretty terrible, but if you’re craving one of these on the Wii, then I guess it’ll do for at least a little while.
Players: Single player (Online multiplayer)
Platform(s): Nintendo Wii
Developer: Marvelous Inc
Publisher: XSeed Games