What is Valhalla Hills?
Valhalla Hills is a world building game steeped in Norse mythology. When Odin grows tired of his son Leko preferring to build things rather than smite them, he sends Leko to Earth to become the God of building. Keen to win favour with his father, Leko teams up with the Vikings of Earth to guide their society, as they construct villages, form armies, grow crops, scale hills, travel through portals, and eventually earn enough honour to take their place at Odin's table in Valhalla.
How do you play Valhalla Hills?
With no direct control over your viking subjects, in Valhalla Hills, you'll instead be issuing instructions from above. A game of resource management and forward planning, it's up to you to choose to construct the right building, at the right time, and in the right place, in order to ensure a steady supply of everything a viking needs to function - a roof over their heads, plenty of food, and the weapons to deal with any intruders. As a few examples, building a woodcutter will let you gather logs, a quarry lets you gather stone, and a Military Base will let you defend yourself - but with every building having only a limited area of effect, balancing your resources, and ensuring you can build what you need, when you need it is a lot easier said than done.
Each level here is procedurally generated, with each mountain often requiring a markedly different approach to the last, depending on the resources and territory it presents you with. If there's plentiful berries, you won't have to worry so much about hunting or fishing; if you're in the desert, you'll likely need to build an army outpost as one of your very first buildings, in order to deal with the aggressive scorpions; while underground stages provide an even greater survival challenge, as there's so little in the way of life, or food.
Regardless of the makeup of each area though, your goal is always to reach, and travel through a portal. As the portal is almost always guarded by plentiful enemies - and summons more in once you open it - you'll need to have a decent military if you want to take them on. In essence, while the vast majority of the focus here is on building up your village, everything you do while playing Valhalla Hills should be designed to provide the foundation for a solid military, so you can storm the portal with ease, and move on to the next world.
How easy is Valhalla Hills to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Valhalla Hills is a game that's aimed squarely at experienced world builder players. With complex supply chains and resource management to deal with - and no easy way to tell your vikings to focus on gathering one type of resource over another - it can be hard to find your footing here if you haven't played any similar games before. You'll need to keep a close eye on proceedings, and watch both your buildings, and your vikings like a hawk, to ensure you don't end up accidentally running out of any important resources. As a very free form and open game, there's also very little in the way of a structure here, with no real missions to speak of, and an incredibly brief tutorial, meaning you're mostly left to figure out exactly how the game works on your own.
For the youngest of players, a solid reading ability is a must here, as what few tutorials there are here are delivered entirely through text alone. Sample sentences include:
- Quarrymen cut QUARRYSTONES in the hills that are required to construct many buildings and tools. To hew the quarrystones into reasonably square STONE BRICKS requires a STONEMASON. The hewn blocks are used to construct many buildings.
- Paths, lanes and roads let you increase the RANGE of buildings, influence your Viking's routes and thus boost general productivity. In many cases, they would never find their destination or raw materials without paths to follow. They also make your Vikings walk FASTER!
While there's nothing in the way of bad language or sex in Valhalla Hills, the game does contain violence. Hunting is sometimes necessary to ensure your survival, whether you're stalking rabbits, catching fish, or bashing scorpions, with land based animals tending to leave behind large cartoon splats of blood, along with equally cartoony joints of meat.