Valkyrie Sky Revie: Arcade Shoot-Em Up



By Michael Justice (Alphamage), Onrpg writer
Various types of MMORPGs have crossed my path in my online gaming life, yet I never thought I would play an arcade-style shoot-em-up MMORPG. The thought of it was neither excitement nor was it disappointment. In all honesty, I don't think anyone would know how to feel about a bullet-curtain type MMORPG until they have played it. Allow me to give you some insight as to how the game works and feels, and perhaps you will know how you feel about it.

Character Creation

From the beginning of the game, you choose a job “type” and in that type there are 3 “classes”. Sounds pretty basic, right? The bad news is that the character is gender locked with little-to-no customization except armor and weapons. Definitely not a game for people who wish to “unique” with their character, but hey, I came for the gameplay and you should too, because if you aren't looking for gameplay, maybe Second Life would better suit your artistic character creation skills.
The jobs are somewhat generic. You have your standard Swordsman, Magician, Bowman, and then you have the Summoner, which is obviously the most awkward class out of all of them. Warriors are strictly closed-range, meaning they have to actually go in to the fray and smack them up, he can also deflect most bullets with his sword as a skill, so he's very vital to parties.. Magicians and Bowmans attack from far using ranged projectiles and the Summoner uses her... pet to attack the enemies. Seriously... all she has to do is hold down the shoot button. She doesn't have to aim anything, the pet just kills everything. Every job has a special “Valkyrie mode” they can use, which is basically a timed HP+attack buff, and each class also has a ultimate attack thing they can use which makes them invincible and clears most enemies off the screen.
The class archetypes themselves are not so bad. It really depends on your playstyle as what archetype you want to be. It's probably one of the more profound types of customization in Valkyrie Sky. Surprisingly, one of the really great things this game does is it lets you change class archetypes practically on-the-fly. After acquiring a certain amount of levels, you can spend skill points and gold to change your class back to one of the other 2 available. It incorporates a nice little bit of unique elements to the game which won't keep you bored.

Areas

There are three parts to Valkyrie Sky: towns, the world map and stage maps. Towns themselves generally have plenty of people in them, shops to buy items, people to give you quests and perhaps an area to fish or cook. You are on the ground for the entire time you are in town and you take to the sky when you go to the world map. The world map itself is not just some screen that says “select stage”, it's an actual place where you are flying in the sky. It was pretty exciting seeing something like this for the first time. You can't necessary change your altitude or anything, but you can move around to the various outposts and stage areas.

Stages & Stage Areas

Stage areas are basically like waiting rooms for people who want to do missions in the respectable area they are at. There's some features that make things easier to find people like the party list, where you can invite people around your level and portals which allow you to teleport party members to your outpost regardless of where they are. After you have plenty of people together, you can choose the difficulty and such. In order to “clear” a stage area, you need to beat “acts” of the stage in sequential order to get to the final part of a stage which is usually a boss of some sort. Up to 4 people can be in your party, which definitely limits your interaction with large amounts of people.
Acts themselves are actually very hectic at times. It is exactly what you think it would be, a vertical scrolling shooter with enemies coming at you from most angles. Some of them shoot you and occasionally there will be a mini-boss in the normal stages. It is not necessarily a danmaku(japanese for bullet hell) type of shooting game, but with 4 people there is bound to be confusion. You do have HP, but it's kind of pointless considering anything will kill you in about one or two hits, if you're lucky. Monsters do drop little HP orbs, so if you get hit and manage to survive, you can recover that way. There is no type of “MP” system, just cooldowns on all of your skills. You have certain charges on your skills depending on how much skill points you've spent on them, so you can use them a lot as you put more and more skill points in to them. You're allowed two continues if you die. If you use both of those, you can buy credit coins, which cost real money.
You'll acquire items throughout stages. There is a rarity system like in many other MMORPGs which categorize items by rarity and the more rare an item is, the better it does in combat. In stages, you can also acquire etc. items used for production, upgrades and quests. Bosses especially drop lots of items. At the end of the stage, your loot is split among everyone equally at random.

Stamina System

Alas, more and more games are clinging on to the notorious “stamina” system and sadly, Valkyrie Sky is one of them, however, it does not take it so seriously as other games. As you progress through stages, you'll waste a certain amount of stamina out of your stamina bar. The harder the stage, the more you waste. You also waste twice as much during in-game night, which kind of sucks. You gain a set amounts of stamina at in-game morning, but it doesn't fill up completely. There's also equipments that give you a max stamina bonus and a stamina regeneration bonus. If you somehow manage to run completely out of stamina, there are actually ways to get it back.
For one, if you cook food using ingredients found from cooking NPC traders, you can consume food for stamina. It's a very easy way, but it wastes plenty of money. People usually fish during the night and cook the fish they caught for stamina, that way they don't waste twice as much stamina and use the time waiting for day to gain more stamina. Another way you can get stamina back is listening or playing music. Music regenerates a set amount of stamina every set amount of time, for example 5 stamina every 15 seconds. Higher quality music gives more stamina. You can also charge people to listen to your music by the second. They both can be ranked up by how often you do them, and they are both really good side-additions to the game.

Graphics

There is nothing to be too stunned about. The game relies on a very clunky animation system, and even on high end, you can still see the very low amount of frames devoted to movement and attacks. Most of the scrolling backgrounds are 3~5 second loops and the bullets themselves aren't even that impressive. You won't see your own character very often unless you're in town or at a stage outpost. Again, it's definitely a game you just play because you enjoy playing it, you don't enjoy it for the pretty colors and textures.

Conclusion

The game is very innovative while retaining a large amount of the MMORPG qualities we know and love. It's definitely something you can play off and on when you feel like it if you're a fan of the shoot-em-up genre. Unfortunately, Valkyrie Sky is still waiting to enter it's commercial release so keep an eye out! Changes will be made to the game, but it will hopefully be for the better.
Pros
-Innovative gameplay
-Plenty of things to do on the side
-Ways to regain stamina
Cons
-No character customization
-Not exactly a long-term MMORPG
-Stamina system can get in the way sometimes

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