We preview the upcoming Valhalla Hills, developed by Funatics Software and published by Daedalic Entertainment. It’s currently in early access and worth a look for fans of the type of classic PC strategy games that became popular in the mid-nineties.
What we know:
Valhalla Hills is currently in Early Access and is being developed by Funatics Software with developers who were previously responsible for games like Cultures and The Settlers 2. In the game, you lead a group of Vikings after being denied access to Valhalla – the promise of an afterlife for those who serve the gods of Asgard well. Resource gathering and construction play a large part in your road to success, a dynamic that’s similar to what we’ve seen in previous Funatics projects.
The maps in the game are procedurally generation, meaning that there is a theoretically endless numbers of levels to be played, and whereas the old Settlers and Cultures games (the ones by Funatics) used an isometric perspective, Valhalla Hills is rendered in 3D using the Unreal 4 engine.
What we saw:
We played around with the latest game build of Valhalla Hills, giving us plenty of hands on time with the game.
What we thought:
Valhalla Hills is very much like the old Settlers game, though with a very different thematic feel to it. Resource gathering and building up your settlement is just as important as it was back in the day, even if your goal (to prove the gods wrong and claim your place in Valhalla) is different. What’s also quite different is the visual style of the game – Valhalla Hills adopts a cartoon-like look that is vastly different from anything we’ve seen before in this genre (and certainly different from the last few Settlers games done by Blue Byte). The cartoon look made the graphics not feel as detailed as we would have liked – but perhaps this’ll change during development.
What we did like was the use of the Unreal Engine to generate some nice lighting effects, especially when the game world turns to night. Lights flicker in the darkness, and lanterns light up their surrounding area – especially in the recently released Halloween update. You can also tell that Funatics knows what they’re doing when it comes to this type of strategy game – the interface and gameplay is easy to pick up and intuitive.
One worry we have relates to the procedurally generated levels, since the best classic Settlers levels all had excellent man-made designs behind them and part of that is lost when you use procedurally generated levels. Hopefully the developers will also be adding some pre-designed and extensive campaign maps for us to enjoy as well, since the game promises to be a fun return to an old favorite.