I looked at Archvale for the first time and thought, “So cute!” With its very fun and colorful pixel art, it reminds a little of the first Legend of Zelda. Little did I know that I would devote hours and some gray hair, trying to discover all the corners present in the different worlds and consequent environments, of this title that stitches itself between lines of RPG and Bullet Hell.
Well, the game is quite difficult to start with, but not at an unplayable level. It’s quite interesting to understand the mechanics of each enemy, how they move, and their attack times. This enriches the adventure and even though it is difficult, when you fail, it is possible to see what went wrong. I think this is the feeling you get from a Soulslike, although not so brutal, as there are checkpoints and fast travel abound.
Archvale puts the player in the position of hero, on a quest to obtain the seven stones that form an arch/portal believed to be magical. Along the way, you will find different civilizations, where although they don’t deliver a great depth of story, they frame the player in their world. There is a main city, where you can upgrade weapons, build new weapons, store the money in the piggy bank, sell treasures found during expeditions, increase the amount of health potions. All other cities only have the possibility to store the money, build new weapons, and the seller.
There is a wide variety of weapons, from magic wands, bows, and arrows to swords or spears. They all feature different attack distances and attack times, which can be improved in Blacksmith. Although this title does not have a “skill tree”, it is possible to make different types of builds with the help of passive skills. These abilities are captured throughout the game and can give the option of defense, assigning a small debuff to enemies or abilities that help the player’s attack. It is really important to keep focused on this option and adapt the style of play to different occasions.
While navigating the world of Archvale it is possible to find sources that enable the recovery of health as well as health potions and checkpoints that work like fast travel. Believe that sometimes these can be as your best friends. This title can be completed without having to explore the world, but there is a lot of hidden objects that can be interesting for more complicated confrontations, such as against the Bosses present in each dungeon. Each zone has as its main point the Dungeon, which is the place where the stone needed to rebuild the magic arch is found and which culminates in the confrontation against the Boss. However, before reaching the final showdown chamber, there are a variety of challenges that can consist of dexterity, where you use the ability to dash as the main mechanic, or simply encounter enemies that can be no more complicated than the surrounding areas. from the Dungeon itself.
The whole look of this title is quite interesting and with attention to the color distinction between enemy attacks and the environment itself, which helps a lot to keep the attention of the bullets that approach the little hero. The fact that the monitor shakes when attacking an enemy brings a very pleasant feeling of accomplishment. The character’s movement is quite smooth, both on the keyboard and on the controller and even the “dash” ability is well implemented without leaving the player confused as to their character’s position.
Although this title screams for the exploration of new areas, it manages to delineate the point where the player shouldn’t be at the moment with the simple fact of introducing enemies that are more complicated to defeat. Still, it is possible to defeat them, from a trial and error perspective, but it will be much more complicated. In this sense, instead of continuing in that direction, the best thing to do is to explore in another direction.
I haven’t been this attached to a game like this since Death’s Door. Although I already have a few hours of gameplay (about 26 hours at the moment), I still haven’t completed the challenge. The exploration and the difficulty are getting the better of me. Archvale manages to compete head to head, with titles of the genre and without giving any weak parts. It is possible to attack this adventure with another friend, even if on the same system, making everything a little more chaotic, or simpler if that friend is the King of Bullet Hell.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for Steam, bought by me]