The time has arrived, the long-awaited Android version of Grimvalor is finally here! The beta version, at least. Like we said in our Grimvalor iOS review, the game is simply phenomenal, worthy of a Game of the Year award. While the fans had to wait for almost seven months, it was definitely worth it. The developers – Direlight, Finnish game studio, took their time to polish and optimize the game so it would be available for a wide variety of Android devices, and frankly, they did an amazing job. The game runs smoothly and there are options to lower the graphics settings in case you are playing on an older phone.
What is Grimvalor
As some of you may know, Grimvalor is a fast-paced action platformer with a touch of Souls-like flavor. In the game, you play as a warrior, sent to investigate the kingdom of Vallaris whose people turned into monstrous creatures. Your job is to investigate the cause of that and find out what happened to the lost king of Vallaris – King Valor.
From the beginning, the game introduces its mechanics to you. The tutorial is simple, exact and on-point. You’ll quickly learn all of the basic commands and you’ll be able to understand what your character can do. The controls are quite simple and intuitive. You control your character with arrows on the bottom-left part of the screen and you have three buttons for attack, jump, and dash on the bottom-right side. Over-time, you’ll unlock additional moves and abilities, but those are mostly used by swiping the attack button in different directions, so they are quite easy to adjust to.
The pacing of the game feels just right. The players are gradually introduced to new types of enemies, abilities, and obstacles, and the progression feels as natural as it can be. The enemies fought early on are quite simple, passive and easy to deal with. As you progress through the game, you’ll encounter more vicious, aggressive, and tougher enemies that will put everything you’ve learned in the game to the test.
The inventory is simplistic and easy to understand. You can equip up to two weapons. One is used for Light attacks and the other for Charged attacks. Light attacks are simply said – the basic attacks you can use without any limitation. Charged attacks, on the other hand, are much more powerful, and are used for various different abilities you’ll unlock while playing. Those abilities deal much higher damage, have a high chance of stunning the enemy, and even allow you to break certain walls to discover new areas. The drawback, however, is that using these abilities require energy, which is limited, and that balances it pretty neatly.
Other than weapons, you can also equip armors to increase your life points. Last, but not least, there are various trinkets you can equip as well. These will provide you with passive bonuses that will help you in certain situations and complement your playstyle.
Souls-like Metroidvania at its finest
The game is very much a Souls-like Metroidvania in every sense. Killing enemies will grant you Soul Shards, that serve both as experience and currency for purchasing items, much like in Souls games. The messages you receive upon defeating bosses are very much reminiscent of those games. It is clear that the developers were inspired by From Software’s masterpiece and in a good way, to be fair. However, unlike Souls games, you do not lose your Soul Shards upon death, so the penalty for dying is not as severe. It mainly involves having to run back from the last checkpoint and fighting through the area again, which at times, can be punishing enough.
As for its resemblance to classic Metroidvania games, it is quite obvious. The game features just the right amount of platforming and also a nice, but not the annoying amount of backtracking. Each area you explore contains a certain number of treasures you can collect, and whenever you open a map, you’ll see a percentage of the treasure you found in each area. This is a nice touch and clearly a good motivation for completionists who like to explore all areas and find all the secrets the game has to offer.
The story is well composed and charmingly narrated. You’ll get introduced to it through cinematics, which will explain some basics but won’t go into details. This is where the interactions with NPCs come into play. On your travels, you’ll encounter various characters that will tell you new information, which will fit perfectly into the story. Also, there are many old tomes hidden throughout the world, and finding them will provide you with additional parts of the story. Piecing all of those story elements is entirely up to you, which really is a nice touch from the developers.
The Big Baddies
And finally, we have the Bosses. This is where the game truly shines. The bosses will start out with simple, easy-to-deal-with mechanics, but they will progressively get harder, which will be a nice and challenging experience. The final boss involves pretty much all the aspects of the gameplay experience and is definitely the biggest obstacle you’ll face in this game, which is as is should be.
Still, there are some things that might leave you with a bitter taste. Certain areas can be buggy at times, the elevators can sometimes glitch and make you fall through them, and the invisible walls can sometimes prevent you from climbing certain areas that are supposed to be available to you. Still, that’s why the game is in its beta, and there is no doubt that the developers will fix these bugs before the official release.
Overall, Grimvalor is a remarkable action-platformer that everyone should try, whether or not they are into the genre. It’s also worth noting that your first playthrough will probably take around 10 hours or so, which is pretty decent bang for your buck considering the $6.99 price tag. We are looking forward to its full release, especially since the beta we got to try out definitely looks promising.