The open-world survival craft genre is a beloved category of games with household titles like Minecraft, ARK: Survival Evolved, Rust, and Terraria, just to name a few. And, while these games still boast a strong following and loyal player base, they have been overshadowed by more recent trends that lean toward competitive shooters, as evidenced by the continuous rise of Valorant by Riot Games and action RPGs like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla from Ubisoft.
However, just two months ago, we saw the early access release of Valheim, an indie open-world survival game developed by Iron Gate and published by Coffee Stain that was assumed to be the newest flavor of the month. But, to the surprise of all the naysayers and those who didn’t expect too much from the indie title, they were all blown away when Valheim became a huge hit and currently boasts more than 5 million copies sold in just under two months time. So, today we’ll be taking a close look at the game and how this fresh take on the open-world survival craft genre managed to take the gaming world by storm.
A Testament That Graphics Aren’t Everything
For those who’ve played the game extensively or saw snippets of gameplay from the trailers, one key takeaway is that Valheim doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of graphics. In fact, the design choice is closely reminiscent of older MMORPGs and simpler titles but blended with better lighting effects. However, despite the lack of ultra-realistic graphics, Valheim proves an old adage that graphics aren’t everything, and people will keep coming back for the gameplay.
- Simple Yet Lasting Impression: Yes, you won’t be as captivated as entering the 10th world as you would strolling through the futuristic aesthetic of Night City in Cyberpunk 2077, but Valheim manages to leave a lasting impression with its simple graphics. It manages to look good despite not having the ultra-realism or cel-shaded appeal we have grown used to in more recent titles. And, because it utilizes much simpler graphics, it’s hard not to remember.
- Artistic Use Of Key Visuals & Audio: Furthermore, despite the graphics not being a selling point, the developers managed to create a stronger sense of immersion through the use of key visual elements like lightning and the rain from thunderstorms as you battle your first boss. Plus, accompanied by great sound choice, the audio and visuals combined put you in the shoes of a Viking tasked to rid the 10th world of Odin’s ancient rivals.
Satisfying Game Mechanics
While many games are built upon solid ideas, when game mechanics fail to live up to the goal and fall short of being satisfying to follow, they end up becoming a fiery mess, and players put on their FR gear and move on to the next title. In the case of Valheim, it manages to put weight into its simple yet refreshing game mechanics that give the game a lot of replayability value. And, from the satisfaction factor alone of maxing out your skills or choosing the right food to help you in combat, keep players constantly enthralled and entertained with the gameplay.
- The Combat & Exploration System: There’s nothing new to Valheim’s combat formula, and we’ve seen the third-person dodge & block game mechanic work wonders for a lot of games in the past. It’s the concept that you’re using the environment around you to decisively outmaneuver bosses or making a tree fall on your enemies that make the combat feel fluid. Plus, the combat system is directly tied to the exploration system, and as you beat more bosses, you start to unlock new items and materials that will help you beat enemies of higher difficulty. Accompanied by the game’s procedurally-generated world, the sense of progression and exploration gracefully complement each other.
- The Base Building & Crafting System: Although some reviews are very critical of the base-building & crafting system due to the snipping feature, we think it adds a lot of personality to the game and gives you just enough freedom that it doesn’t cross the line of sandbox titles. It’s also not as punishing as other games where you don’t get back resources like in The Forest, which makes it a much more enjoyable playthrough for newbies to the genre.
An Intimate Experience With Friends
Last but not least, while some players have been clamoring on the developers for better support on co-op play and increasing the capacity of players on servers, we consider the current 10-player cap as a bonus feature that makes the game an intimate experience with friends. We think that having more players and shifting the focus to PVP will only work against the game’s personality. Of course, there’s no telling what the game has in store in the future, so we might see this change in future patches.
Remember, This Game Is Still In Early Access
Overall, we want to remind everyone the Valheim is still in Early Access, and with just two months under its belt, it has a lot to improve on, given that the indie game is very community-driven. So, if you’ve been looking for a refreshing take on the open-world survival craft genre, we think that Valheim is the perfect game to pick up. Plus, with very active developers, who knows what type of content we’ll be getting throughout 2021.