Ever wonder what you would get if Metroid Prime and Bioshock had a baby during World War II in the Canadian Rockies? Yeah me neither, but Valley by Blue Isle Studios gives you the answer to that question.
This is a first-person platformer and shooter like Metroid Prime, and puts you in the shoes of an archaeologist in search of the mythological Life Seed; an object with the power to take and restore life to yourself in and the world. all. As you make your way through it, you come across an exoskeleton–the L.E.A.F. Suit–that grants you incredible speed and grappling abilities by harnessing orbs of Life Seed power scattered throughout this remote section of the Canadian Rockies.
You use the power of the life in the valley to charge your suit and revive yourself (though quantum reincarnation) if you die (either by falling too far, drowning, or losing against some of the valley’s few “enemies” which are wraith like “daemons” from other quantum realities). When you do this, you can use your orb power to literally shoot the life you took back into the valley by giving life to dead, trees an animals. If you die to often and don’t give life back to the valley and only keep taking it, the leaf meter that displays the life level of the valley will fully deplete and you will permanently die.
The L.E.A.F. suit was originally used for excavation and research purposes of the military in this valley during the first half of the twentieth century, which is revealed via audio tapes and written notes throughout the game. The research was headed up by a scientist who went kind of crazy trying to harness the Life Seeds’ power. This method of revealing lore and story thorough found recordings, notes and clues in the environment is quite similar to Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite, and also Metroid Prime.
They are also similar in that you can examine the beautiful and rich environments for clues to what has happened to the world. It’s through recordings, landscape clues, and notes that you learn more about the valley’s unusual past. The notes and tapes often correlate with specific areas in the world. For example, you might come across a message referring to a L.E.A.F. suit sports league right before you come across an area suited for the fictional competition, providing evidence that the valley was populated prior to a cataclysmic event.
Valley’s first-person, mech-suit-powered platforming gets its excitement from playing with momentum – running down a hill will pick up speed, letting you launch yourself across colossal gaps. It’s a thrill that has you look at the world in a different way – there could be a hill you can speed your way down, just to be flung off of a jump at the very bottom, landing you safely on a platform that looked unreachable from the ground.
In those fast-paced sequences, you feel a whole lot like a superhero! It’s a thrilling experience that gives you a sense of power, freedom and control on a massive scale: the Canadian Rockies become your playground, and mountains, valleys, rivers and plains become hop, skip, and jumpable! As you suit gains new powers, like double jump, super speed, (the underground rail section is particularly amazing.)
Valley has more going for it, including fascinating lore pertaining to experimental technology, secret organizations, and unusual mythology. It’s a brief experience that rarely disappoints because it is so empowering and immersive with great story, play control and graphics. My problems with the game is that it is too short a game and there was lots more potential to develop interesting gameplay mechanics with the power of the L.E.A.F suit.
Also, combat was not emphasized over exploration, but in the combat sequences, you could tell it wasn’t fleshed out and was kind of clumsy in its concept, not at all as robust as Bioshock or Metroid. But then again, this game isn’t combat focused. It’s strength is in movement and scale and story, like Mirror’s Edge or Portal.
Though it has a few drawbacks, this game is definitely worth picking up on Steam. It’s exhilarating, interesting, relaxing and fun, despite is combat design and length deficits. Check it out!