Valhalla Knights 3 PS Vita Review: PlayStation One called... it wants its game back
Valhalla Knights 3 from Xseed Games does not hold your hand. It's a game that would've been great back on the original PlayStation or the PSP, but feels ancient on the PS Vita. I can't say I even enjoyed it that much, as the game comes down to grinding, which I hate. It's a great character creator combined with a progression system that gets bogged down by dated graphics, an unforgiving grind and a “sexy time” mini-game.
Valhalla Knights 3 starts with you arriving in Carceron Prison. It's a prison in the sense that there are prisoners, but this compound has shops, districts with female companionship, and other things you wouldn't expect to find in a prison. There's a treasure that's supposedly hidden somewhere in the prison. Your missions is to find the treasure before the emperor does, blah blah blah – in reality, the story takes a backseat to everything else. It's just not very interesting or good, and honestly, the game might be better off without a story.
The first thing you'll do is create a character. Character creation, and the manner in which you choose to progress that character, is very Dark Souls-esque. You choose from one of four starting races – Human, Elf, Halfling and Dwarf – each with their own attribute bonuses. Then you choose a class. There are six at the beginning, from the all-around prisoner class to the priest, but you'll unlock more later through quests and defeating enemies. However, you're not locked into building that class a certain way. Also, as you'll be adventuring with a party of seven, you can control one of your party members at any time, in addition to progressing them how you see fit. If you get tired of combat with your class, this allows for a nice change of pace.
Combat is not for everyone. You have your typical button inputs for attacks and blocking, but your chances in a fight mostly depend on your gear and level. Quests get repetitive and boring as you grind for more money, better gear or that one last level you need. There are some really cool special abilities, but things will mainly come down to well-timed attacks against difficult enemies. A highlight for me was the PvP matches, where you pit your seven-person party against another player's. There's a leaderboard for bragging rights, too.
Then there's sexy time. In the light district, you can get some of the better goods in the game. However, you won't be able to buy them unless you hire a clerk. That's where sexy time comes in – a mini-game that uses the Vita's touchscreen for you to stimulate, fondle, kiss and caress the girl. Do a good enough job and she'll go to a hotel with you where there's evidence to suggest that you satisfy her quite well. It's really creepy. “Oh,” “Ah...,” and “More” appear as you tap at the screen. It really makes you feel like you're doing something perverted, and that's because it is perverted. Up close shots of an elf's crotch are included for no reason other than the objectification of women. It doesn't need to even be in the game. The mechanic feels like it was forced in.
Ultimately, it's something I couldn't get over. It totally turned me off from the game. Dragon's Crown may have oversexualized its female characters, but it's part of the art style. Valhalla Knights 3 just feels like I'm degrading women.
The whole package of Valhalla Knights 3 isn't helped by the fact that the game looks so dated. Even by PSP standards, this is a below average-looking game. I need some eye candy – and not in the form of female escorts. Animations are atrocious, and the graphics aren't up to par when compared to rest of the Vita library. With graphics this underwhelming, I'm having a hard time understanding why some load times are so excrutiatingly long. While the soundtrack is pleasant, the voice acting and sounds aren't. You're constantly hearing characters shout exclamatory remarks like “ugh” and “yea,” but in a really bad, cheesy way.
There's too much that turns me off with Valhalla Knights 3. While quests on-the-go is a good thing for a hand-held RPG, there's too much of a grind and repetition for it to be enjoyable. The lack of a quality story makes this a sad RPG with some good ideas, like the seven-on-seven battles, combat and character progression. Unless you're a huge fan of the series or love RPGs that much, the outdated graphics and sexy time mechanic overshadow any of the positives.