Valhalla Hills


Valhalla Hills on Steam

MSRP: $29.99

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux

Release: 12/2/15

The only thing worse than spending more than I normally would on a game and not loving it is when I can’t even say that I like it.  It doesn’t happen often – normally, unless I get it for under $5, I do quite a bit of research.  But I spotted Valhalla Hills on a deep discount, and for 80% off with both DLCs, I grabbed in despite the less than stellar reviews.  And let me tell you, that was not the best $8 I ever spent – I’d be livid if I paid $40.


When it comes to city building games, I can usually get my money’s worth, even when they’re just okay.  I’m even willing to sacrifice some logic in the name of making things more fun.  But when that lack of logic is a big part of what’s sucking the fun out of the game, well, we all have to draw the line somewhere.


The very first map was an easy trip to victory. I plop down a woodcutter’s hut, open a portal, and I win. Seems slightly inane, but I’ll forgive it in the name of tutorial. However, as soon as I hit the second map, it was not entirely unlike hitting a brick wall with my skull.  The first level taught me that the first thing I need is a woodcutter’s hut, so I dutifully place one.  Then I get a message that a tool is required, so I build a tool shop, and I wonder why the game didn’t teach me to build a tool shop before a woodcutter’s hut. But I can live with that.


What made me bounce off the game was when I had a military camp with four soldiers, and five axes just hanging out at my tool shop, and no way that I could figure to get them from point A to point B.  The soldiers won’t go get them.  The carrier won’t deliver them.  I even moved the military camp closer, worried it might have been out of logistics range. Nothing. No way were those guys getting axes, and there was nothing in the tutorial text to assist, and that was my last straw.


I don’t know how long I would have lasted regardless.  Tying the campaign and unlocks to randomly generated maps feels weird to me. The controls to move around the map were super-sensitive; barely touching the mouse wheel had me looking down upon my little vikings from outer space. Lastly, I couldn’t find any kind of status screens that could help me pinpoint logistical problems.  Half the fun of city builders, at least for me, is in the micromanagement, and when you take all of that away, you don’t leave a whole lot of game behind.

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