SPOILER ALERT: This review does contain information that could be taken as potential spoilers to gameplay and story.
Well folks, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla has been out and about for a little over a week now, so we thought it was time for another Pasta N’Play. This time, I will be enjoying a nice helping of vermicelli pasta while I raid some villages and command a few longships.
Let me begin by saying that I am quite impressed with this game. There is a genuine, tasteful beauty in the scenery and overall feel, and the music pairs well with whatever I’m doing, whether it be exploring, adventuring, or leading a battle. I have found that even in the midst of a fight, I can appreciate the view of a nice sunset, and this leads me to believe that the game achieves a good balance of violence and peacefulness. The little details were enjoyable as well and created a living, breathing world, such as when Eivor moves through the snow and her steps reveal the bit of dirt underneath. England’s weather patterns were also taken into account, which made instances of fog — extremely helpful for being an assassin, but also incredibly annoying.
Apart from the satisfying graphics, the gameplay was fairly smooth as well. In comparison to Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey, the mechanics weren’t too different but they have definitely been cleaned up a bit. Ranged combat seemed to demand more attention in this game, and fighting face-to-face was stuffed with fun special attacks that reminded me a pinch of Mortal Kombat’s punchiness. Of course, raiding is the highlight of this game and is one of the most gratifying elements. I do enjoy sounding my Gjallarhorn and parkour-ing off the bow of my longship! Equipment is more akin to Dark Souls or Bloodborne, where you pick what you play with and then upgrade it over time. With dual wielding, you can also choose to showcase the famous Viking axe or don double spears, it’s up to you and what kind of Viking you want to be.
There are also a rigga-ton of things to do in the village before you once again go “a Viking”. From playing an ancient dice game, fishing, to even competing in a drinking competition, I found there were plenty of activities to pasta time. Beware of indulging in too much ale, however, as you will stumble away quite intoxicated for a few minutes, with your walking and visibility altered! Admittedly, this was one of my favorite things in the game.
Compared to other Assassin’s Creed games, Valhalla does not actually employ ship combat. Personally, this didn’t bother me, as it gave me more time to take a few bites of my vermicelli, enjoy the scenery, and think about what I wanted to do next. From the viewpoint of a Viking, sailing was a huge part of life and I think that allowing the player to enjoy it was all part of the savory experience. This game also demonstrates that longships weren’t exactly very big, but this was purposeful as it actually allowed them to sail up rivers and pull up onto the banks with ease. The mast could also be quickly lowered so that a ship could pastander a bridge with ease.
Listening to your crew sing songs was also a nice touch.
Speaking of water, I can appreciate how long Eivor can hold her breath in this game. I mean, she has the lungs of a god and I actually took it upon myself to pull out a stopwatch.
Eivor can hold her breath for a little over a minute and thirty seconds. Or for as about as long as it takes to microwave a cold bowl of pasta.
Granted, you do blow into a decent amount of horns as a Viking, so this could attribute to her generous breath-holding capacity, but in comparison to other games, I felt this was worth noting.
Now, the storyline in Valhalla is refreshing in the sense that you have more freedom to do what you want. In other installments of the series, players were tasked with either stopping the templars, finding a long-lost brother, or perhaps seeking revenge. But in Valhalla, there is more emphasis on making a name for yourself and gaining allies and friends in a new land. Sure, Eivor is pretty salty about her childhood villain and seeks to right that wrong, but all in all the story is more about exploration and relishing in simple Viking pleasures…like pillaging and feasting.
I still have a lot left of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla to discover and play, but so far I have all good things to say about it. In plain pasta terms, this game is creamy and rich, with some nice spice and maybe a hint of aromatic herbs. Skol, and bon appetit!