Developer: Crazy Viking Studios
Publisher: Adult Swim Games
Genre: Side-scrolling beat-'em-up
"The Sega Genesis." It's often the answer that I give when asked what my favorite game console is. It was a great console with a lot of hidden gems and an appealing art style. But the Genesis somehow never released a game called Volgarr the Viking. Wait, this just in-- Volgarr is a brand new game from Crazy Viking Studios and Adult Swim Games, but it looks and feels as if it would have been right at home on the Sega Genesis. Hell, it even has a Genesis-inspired manual.
Volgarr the Viking is exactly what it should be: an assault to the senses of those willing to take the plunge into this ultra-violent romp through a minion-drenched hell.
To many that have gotten their hands on it, Volgarr has chewed them up and spit them out. The difficulty seems to be too much. The hardest thing about Volgarr is understanding one main rule that was shared with me: there is nothing unfair about Volgarr.
So, now comes the hardest part-- putting what Volgarr is into words.
Volgarr is an old-school 16-bit side-scrolling beat-'em-up in the vein of Castlevania and Golden Axe. But what sets this game apart is the extreme difficulty when it comes to figuring out what every enemy's attack pattern is. Every enemy attacks in a certain manner, and Volgarr (while only using two buttons other than the movement keys) always has a way to dispatch them.
The other beautiful thing that this game adds is how Volgarr traverses the world that he is a part of. Volgarr is a viking, not an all-powerful god. He still has to climb ropes to get to higher places, and in some cases he has to throw his spears into walls to make new platforms. This becomes one of the most satisfying things about this game, especially when those spears double up as a weapon or a way to block projectiles from above.
To add to this already epic adventure, Volgarr the Viking has a decent soundtrack. It fits the action, and the Clash of the Titans-esque world. While it isn't the best music ever heard in a game, it totally matches the action and look of the game. Just don't go in thinking that there will be epic viking chants.
So, if Volgarr the Viking sounds this great there must be something horrendously wrong with it deep down, right? No. There are some things that some gamers will have difficulty with. Problems like the extremely brutal checkpoint system. Currently, if players die, they will find themselves all the way back at the beginning of the area of the screen they are on. This can mean losing 5-10 minutes of progress. Thankfully, players will learn something new along the way every time. This system seems crazy in a world of extreme simplicity, frequent 2-minute checkpoints, and hand-holding tutorials that never fully release players from its grasp, but players willing to stick with Volgarr will feel some of the greatest satisfaction in recent memory.
Volgarr has so much to offer for players that want to feel a deep satisfaction when completing an area, or personal task. The difficulty only adds to the dark style of the game, and everything fits perfectly into the presentation of this game. Volgarr the Viking is the type of experience that has been missing from the gaming world. Do yourself a favor and pick up the best offering from Adult Swim Games yet.
I love Volgarr the Viking. Like, really love it. It brings back so many memories from my childhood gaming career. I wasn't handed anything in games. Instead, I had to bust my ass to progress all of the time, and it was a great feeling to tell all of my friends on the playground about the strategy I had used. Now I find myself talking to friends that I handed my USB NES controller to on my couch. Learning the patterns was satisfying in a way that words can't truly explain. Quick doodles were made to explain how we handle the upcoming area, and we quickly found that Volgarr, while being a single-player game, was a great game for two people to pass a controller back and forth to.
This game has lovingly stuck a spear through my heart, and is easily in top contention for game of the year.