If you haven’t heard of Valley before, you may end up thanking me after you read this post, because it’s an amazing PC adventure, released on August 24, that probably flew a bit under most people’s radars. It’s a game that intrigued me ever since I first started getting press mail-outs about it for several reasons. First, I thought that the setting (a remote part of the Canadian Rockies) was quite unique. After all, in an age with surveillance and constant digitization and connectivity, the idea that there are strange, undiscovered secrets still out there in our world is intriguing enough. Plus, the idea of lost civilizations has appealed to me for a very long time, so the premise that our character is finding out about a long-lost North American civilization was enough to make me want to press on into the game to find out more.
While I don’t recall an exact year being given, Valley seems to be set sometime in the late 1970s or early 80s, with the player taking on the role of an archaeologist who has spent their career searching for the elusive Lifeseed. This mythical object is said to have the power to fragment worlds, but may also be tied into life itself – yet no one has ever discovered it. At least, this seems to be true until the first few minutes of the game, when we finally set foot in a remote region of the Rocky Mountains and discover that we may not be the first people to set foot here in a long time. After just a few minutes of exploring the lush greenery that is the Wendigo Lake area, we discover a suit developed by the U.S. military called LEAF (Leap Effortlessly through the Air Functionality) which unlocks the core gameplay here – running and jumping to incredible distances and heights, all while getting the ability to control life and death itself.
The game offers open exploration but is divided into a series of areas/regions (or “levels” if you prefer), each with a set of goals for the player to accomplish. The LEAF suit is powered by amitra energy – a power source that allows the suit to restore dead things (plants and animals) and, when low on energy, absorb life from living things. This give-and-take is critical to the game’s mechanics, especially once you realize that dying actually damages the Valley each time it happens. The suit has the power to restore the rider to life upon their demise, but this comes at the cost of draining life energy from the plants and animals in the vicinity, and once the Valley’s “health” bottoms out, revival will no longer be an option. If the rider dies, they’ll want to use the suit to restore the newly-dead things around them in order to ensure that they’ll be able to recover if they were to fall again.
One thing I’ve really enjoyed so far about the game is that backtracking is actually something worth doing, and even though you can speedrun through the game if desired (and miss all the wonderful scenery and hidden lore!), exploration will yield various upgrades that will make the game easier to play. Beyond the ability to collect acorns and medallions (which open special doors), you’ll also find energy canisters (or complete tanks) that will increase the amount of energy that your LEAF suit can hold at any given time.
Performance at 4K is actually quite good in Valley, and the graphics certainly do impress. The game also has a really fantastic soundtrack – so good, in fact, that I’d love to pick it up sometime. 🙂
I’ve put a few good hours into this game, but I still have plenty more to conquer. Still, I have no problem recommending this title, which you can find on Steam for just $19.99.
Enjoy a few more screenshots: