The Viking-themed survival-and-building game Valheim had its early release in spring 2021 and became an instant success. The concept is straightforward – you have apparently died and are now dumped into this dimensional waitingroom for your eventual future progress to Valhalla by a Valkyrie. But for now, here in this realm, your mission is to do Odin’s bidding and battle the creatures inhabiting the world. While of course improving yourself as it progresses.
This means that you will have to gather resources in order to construct your equipment and a base where you can dwell in somewhat safety, cooking your food and making more elaborate things like bows, forges, boats and those very handy magical portals for travelling between your bases. Because sooner or later you will find that one base is never enough. Just like a base can never be entirely finished, due to that “but it would look so much better if…” effect.
At first their choice of graphics style can feel a little odd with its pixilated close-up looks and rather featureless visage of the character avatars. It is however something that one gets used to pretty fast. In particulary as it is weighed up by a delightful lighting that provides atmosphere as the day passes. Not to mention the games modelling of water! Traversing the water in a longship is an experience, be it along the coast or out on the open sea. In nice sunny weather it is a true pleasure, while in stormy weather it is… well, one does feel the storm.
As it is, the main drawback for Valheim as it is right now is a certain lack of optimization which makes it laggy when close to places were you have have built a lot of structures. Hopefully this is something that will be solved before leaving the early release stage.
Is it worth buying? Well, in the genre of survival builders I think its place among the top ones is a well-deserved one. It’s thematically thought through and provides the possibility to construct really neat things. The survival part doesn’t feel like too much of a grind even if the linearity can sometimes feel a little limiting. There are days I wish there was an offical sandbox mode for those times when you just want to build – or try to – awesome things without having to be bothered by the pesky inhabitants of the world. But that’s really a minor thing (since there do exist cheats).
So yes, it’s a nice ongoing early access game and with the current pricing I think it is a good deal if you’re into Viking aestetics.