I’d love to start this review off with something witty, but I can’t, because I’m currently going cold turkey from DigiSky Games’ Little Valkyrie, a stupidly addictive game that revitalises pattern-matching gameplay with RPG elements. Before I continue, the game is free, so you may as well stop pretending that you don’t need to download it to your Android odevice, and make it happen.
Little Valkyrie, takes the classic match-three genre of gaming, which I’ve never really cared for despite its current popularity in the mobile gaming industry – Candy Crush, anyone? – and improves it with another genre that is much closer to my heart; RPG.
In this game, you’ll be matching elements as a way of fighting the eye-wateringly cute monsters of five different lands. Each monster will have a colour, and this colour represents their type. For example, green creatures represent grass and are weak to fire attacks, which a lifetime of Pókemon has drilled into me. Matching three or more of the fire element means that your attack will exploit this creature’s weakness and deal out more damage.
Adding further strategy is the fact that matching the same element in succession will increase the damage done by your attacks, and also bring an element’s special power into play. For example, two water matches in a row allows the gamer to use a bubble shield, which protects them from the creature’s next attack. This kind of choice, like in most good RPG games, can make the difference between life and death, and opens up a new level of depth to what can be a very simple, repetitive style of game. Do you aim for a creature’s weakness, or do you continue matching the same element so that you can benefit from its ability? The choice is yours.
While these damage multipliers and abilities are merely there as RPG decoration during the earlier levels of Little Valkyrie, the later levels will see you having to actively think about such things if you are to see the light of another element-matching day. If you manage that, you’ll win coins that can be used to upgrade the power of each specific element, or even used to increase your overall health.
The game’s soundtrack is fine, with a cute menu tune and somewhat uplifting battle music, but doesn’t take the game to new levels in any respect. If I were to think of a way that Little Valkyrie could be improved, it would be an increased variety of creatures to battle, as there are only about three or four different monsters that repeat over the five lands. Also, another animation for each attack might be a bonus, because you’ll see a lot over the course of the game, but it definitely isn’t a make-or-break criticism.
Added to this is a possible improvement that is personal, rather than any problem with the game; I would love to see this genre of game with a more adult theme, in which you’d battle against creatures from darker fantasy worlds like Skyrim or Diablo.
Overall, Little Valkyrie is a simple, fun, and addictive game for Android that I enjoyed even more than I thought I would when I first saw its trailer, which seems like it would only appeal to children. It requires more strategy than one would expect in later levels, when weaknesses and abilities need to be utilised to survive. In essence, Little Valkyrie’s main selling point – despite being free – is that it takes a classic style of gameplay and makes it feel new with the inclusion of RPG. If the developers add further levels at a later date, I’m sure to pick it up again, and if anything similar is brought to my attention in the near-future, I’ll play that too.
As you can see, DigiSky Games have me addicted to matching games, but will any others break the mould that has been set before them? Only 2014 will tell.