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Xenon Valkyrie+ (Xbox)

Developed by Diabolical Mind and COWCAT, Xenon Valkyrie+ is now available on PS4 and Xbox both for £7.99.

Xenon Valkyrie+ is a rogue-lite platformer with RPG elements where your objective is to fight to the deepest part of the moon in order to stop the evil witch.

Xenon Valkyrie+ has been well designed, each of the worlds is unique with different obstacles and enemies to overcome. The game has a retro look to it and my only criticism is that from time to time the level and the background seem to merge together and it can be a little hard to differentiate between the two (I’ve tried to jump on a multitude of ledges that don’t actually exist!).

The levels you play through are randomly generated each time you play which is both a good and a bad thing. It's good in the sense that it tries to keep things feeling new but on the other hand, it could mean that you end up with a level with few enemies available for you to kill as well as enemies and chests which are inaccessible. You can attempt to make your own way through using your grenades, but you only start with 3 and sometimes that is not enough.

I love the music in Xenon Valkyrie+, it is of high quality and is well suited to the game, its fast paced and bursting with energy spurring you on. The sound effects are also brilliantly detailed, even down to the gunfire, jumping, explosions and acid clouds which spray down.

You have a choice of three heroes to play as, each with their own unique abilities and stats. My personal favourite is the one that looks like a lizard, he has the best defence stats and the boosted jump which makes traversing the levels infinitely easier. I wish there was a much clearer way of introducing the controls to you because you’re left to figure it all out for yourself. You can move with LS, jump with A, LB is grenades and RB is your special move. You can also look up and down slightly with the RS, which helps you try to avoid the spikes you could potentially fall onto, taking pointless damage. 

In Xenon Valkyrie+ there is no difficulty setting, and I think this is where the game starts to fall apart, for me. It takes a long time before you can really start to feel like you’re making any progress at all and all the grinding of the first couple of levels gets very tedious. After multiple attempts over a long period of time, you do start to feel like the game has just been designed to ensure you fail at times. There are far too many spike traps on the floor which are placed just out of view (even when using RS to see further) that you always tend to fall on to. What makes it worse is that some spikes even blend into the background making them almost impossible to see, on a game that is already difficult, I didn't appreciate what felt like a cheap attempt at taking even more HP off of me.

In order to unlock the better weapons, you’ll need “teamerite” (once earned, you won’t lose it unless you spend it) which you can get from killing bosses or if you happen to have enough cells (the in-game currency) and it happens to turn up in the shop mid-level then you can purchase one. Infuriatingly, once you’ve purchased these hard-hitting weapons, you can only use them if you happen to get one from a locked chest in-level! So, it is by pure chance that you’ll find yourself on a good run.

The enemies are varied and do get more complex as you progress through the levels which I quite liked but the more I play the game, the more the little things, like enemies falling on top of you or randomly taking an extra shot, start to irritate me. The bosses are unique which is great, and they each have a specific way to approach them. Once you have managed to defeat the boss you’ll be awarded a random amount of teamerite as well as a bonus piece of equipment. My favourite one so far has been the vampire ring which has life steal and has saved me from certain death on many occasions.

As you go around killing the enemies, you’ll earn experience and level up, awarding you talent points to assign to one of your stats (HP, Ammo Capacity, Strength, Defence) when you reach the teleporter pad and enter the safe area. Within the safe area, you’ll find some NPCs to talk to, some of whom will have things they can do for you (for a fee). One of them will fix and build a teleporter which will allow you to return to the area it is built in at the start of a new run with some talent points given automatically to assign. Whilst this is a great idea, I don’t feel like its really going to help you. I found that I was able to get more talent points by starting from scratch each time rather than by using the teleporter pad and taking the points on offer.

Each world has two sections with two opportunities to go to the shop, level up your stats and then go on to end of world boss fight. Which boss you get is anyone’s guess as they are random. I think this is what frustrates me the most about Xenon Valkyrie+, there are too many variables to contend with in pretty much every aspect of the game. I find myself wondering whether I’ll get a decent weapon and gun from the chests, whether I’ll get a level which has enough enemies to kill to get enough talent points to max out my defence, which boss I’ll get at the end, how much teamerite I’ll get from killing the boss, which bonuses I’ll get from killing the boss.

In Xenon Valkyrie+ there is a way of getting through this game to achieve each of the different possible endings. This is done over several playthroughs, using different heroes and helping various NPCs along the way, and ultimately obtaining the Xenon Valkyrie itself. For people like me who are not necessarily experts at rogue-like and rogue-lite games, whether or not you will be successful depends on how much you’re willing to persevere until you happen to get the right set of circumstances.

Overall, I’ll admit that it took the right frame of mind (determination and playing without distractions) and a lot of patience before I grew to love this game. Once you do start to get further into the game, it does get quite addictive because you feel like you’re so close to success. If I had to give it a score it would be 7/10.

Xenon Valkyrie+ has 18 achievements available for a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. A well-rounded list of largely progression-based achievements. For the skilled players out there, I am positive that this will be a walk in the park but for people like me, the more casual gamer, this will likely be a trickier one to complete. I shall persevere though because it will be such a great feeling of satisfaction to reach that 100%! If you need any help or guidance, then head over to True Achievements where you will find plenty of useful information.

A game code was provided for the purpose of this review. Thank you!
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