Volgarr the Viking is a Platformer for PC. This is another Adult Swim published game, helping further show the wide variety of titles they publish. The game is developed by the aptly-named Crazy Viking Studios.
In Volgarr the Viking there is no exposition. The story is wholly contained in the manual – ah, the good old days. You are assaulting the tower of the evil dwarf-cum-dragon Fafnir. Volgarr is a fearless viking who overcame many foes, but finally came to perish in a true warrior’s death, but he did not see Valhalla. Odin had other plans for our brave Volgarr. As a true viking warrior, he was resurrected to combat Fafnir and defeat him. As Volgarr, you traverse seven differently-themed worlds, each with two sections, aiming to defeat the boss at the end of the second section and unlock their portion of Fafnir’s seal. When a boss is defeated, a treasure chest will appear. The faster you open the chest, the more treasure you will receive from it. The game features multiple endings based on how much treasure is collected over the course of the game.
Volgarr the Viking opens with a short tutorial. There is no text. There are two ways to figure out how to play this; read the (.pdf) manual you got with the game or by trial and error. If you read the manual – and I urge you to do so – you will be told the controls among many other things. Volgarr can jump, attack, throw spears, jumping spin attack, jumping downwards thrust and roll.
In his quest to defeat Fafnir, Volgarr can’t rely on his strength alone, he must pillage gear to aid him. There are multiple pieces of equipment he can use; wooden shield, hammer shield, Baldur’s protection, Tyr’s flame and Mjolnir’s power. Wooden shield will block one hit and break on the second. Hammer shield gives Volgarr the ability to throw charge shots and blocks unlimited hits. Baldur’s protection makes Volgarr attack more quickly. Tyr’s Flame will increase his attack range. Mjolnir’s Power will make Volgarr invulnerable to the next hit, allowing him to keep all of his gear, and destroy all enemies on the screen. As Volgarr is hit, he will lose his equipment in layers. Assuming he is fully equipped, he will lose items in this order: Baldur’s Protection and Tyr’s Flame, Wooden Shield and Hammer Shield, Life. Essentially, it boils down to a three-life system where you start with only one and each life gained will make you more powerful.
If you do, inevitably, die, there are two ways in which it can be dealt with. In the Path of the Crystal, you will revive at the last crystal – each of which is placed at the beginning of a section. In the Path of the Valkyrie, there is perma-death. You will only revive if you have a special item allowing you to do so.
While the gameplay can be seen as difficult, it is never unfair. Each situation could, potentially, be overcome first try – though that’s not likely to happen. The game is crafted in a way that forces you to keep the pace up or face bigger odds. If you plod along and take your time, you’ll be facing a larger amount of enemies, which make for more opportunities to make a mistake. If you go too fast, you’re also opening yourself up to making mistakes. Volgarr the Viking could be considered a trial-and-error type of game, but it by no means requires inhuman levels of execution.
Volgarr the Viking is wonderful in both art and animation, with such small details as Volgarr’s boots flaying in the wind and the quick change of direction on the flame sword at the end of the swing arc. There has obviously been a lot of attention put into minor details and this is a large reason that the game shines. The music is the perfect accompaniment to the effort you will put forward and the frustration you will feel when playing the game.
The game has many menu options. Controls are fully re-bindable in the menu. Graphically, the game can be made to look more like Megadrive-Genesis games by turning bi-linear filtering and high colour off. You can also play full-screen or windowed. Music and sound effects both have their own slider in the sound menu.
There are also some extra options which allow you to do things such as turn on a speed-run HUD (Crazy Viking Studios obviously know their demographic), turn off loading screens and change the ‘look ahead’ button to a toggle rather than hold. Going back to the speed-run HUD, Volgarr has an in-game leaderboard showing the best players among friends or the best players of the game. This really helps give incentive for re-plays and trying to find shortcuts.
Volgarr is a throwback to the Megadrive-genesis era where games were hard. Really hard. But Volgarr achieves this difficulty without feeling cheap at all. Overall, the gameplay is very tight and artistically, the game shines. I can’t recommend Volgarr the Viking enough – It has won over my heart and my beard.