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Sons of Valhalla review – A Norse Kingdom: New Lands

Sons of Valhalla screenshot
Image: Pixel Chest/Hooded Horse

If you enjoyed Noio’s Kingdom games, you’ll feel right at home with Sons of Valhalla. It employs a very similar gameplay style where you’ll be spending your time pushing forward, claiming new camps and bolstering your troops as you go. And like Kingdom, Sons of Valhalla takes no prisoners. It’s even tougher than its inspirations, in fact.

That’s no bad thing, though. This is a challenging strategy game, and it means that every small success feels like a real win. Every stronghold you take control of feels hard-earned, and every battle you survive is a true victory. Even on Sons of Valhalla’s easiest difficulty, it puts up enough of a challenge — but we’re very grateful those difficulty options are there.

If you’re new to this type of game, we’d recommend starting on easy to learn the ropes. On normal difficulty, Sons of Valhalla is punishing, and death comes quickly if you’re unprepared. Admittedly, we didn’t even try the hardest difficulty, but it’s safe to say it’s there only for veterans who have already mastered the game in its easier incarnations.

Starting out with just one camp, your goal in Sons of Valhalla is to push forwards to the right, taking out enemies and capturing new camps as you go. In each camp you’ll get the opportunity to build helpful outposts, such as barracks where your soldiers can train and unlock new abilities, fishing ports where you can gather food for your troops, and lumberjack lodges where you can gather wood for new buildings.

Sons of Valhalla review
Image: Pixel Chest/Hooded Horse

You’ll also need to upgrade your main hall, which in turn provides access to further upgrades for other buildings. You can also upgrade your own stats and abilities directly, providing more health, more stamina and more arrows for your bow, amongst other things.

Of course, like the Kingdom games before it, fortifying your settlements is important, and you’ll need to ensure you have troops stationed on the outskirts to protect from incoming enemy invasions. Enemies will come at you with ramrods and a whole lot of power, so you’ll need to be constantly prepared.

Part of your success in Sons of Valhalla depends on how well you manage your troops. Leaving them be will see them guard your boundaries, but you can command them to follow you, to fight, to stand in a defensive position, and more. Offering the right commands at the right time can make all the difference — but it’s down to you to figure out what works.

Sons of Valhalla screenshot
Image: Pixel Chest/Hooded Horse

We particularly like Sons of Valhalla’s rune system, which provides random upgrades as you play. By unlocking chests — found typically in enemy camps as you push through the game — or by defeating enemies, you’ll occasionally find a rune, which can be equipped to your belt, offering you or your army a random upgrade. They come in random rarities, and the power offered will depend on how rare each rune is. Some might simply offer a 10% damage boost, while others may offer a special skill. Our favourite allowed us to turn our character into an impenetrable forcefield of shields, and upon exiting it we’d release a powerful wave causing damage to all nearby enemies.

Reach the furthest point of a map in Sons of Valhalla, and you’ll find yourself facing a powerful boss. The first had us leaving our team behind, having to fight one-on-one, turning the game into a 2D action-platformer for a moment. Like all good bosses, we had to watch his attacks, learn when to dodge, and carefully gauge when it was safe to attack. After defeating a boss, you’ll travel to a new area, where you’ll have a whole new series of camps to take over, and plenty more enemies to take down.

If you’ve played any of the Kingdom games, you’ll feel right at home with Sons of Valhalla, which is clearly inspired from Noio’s classic series. Pushing forward to take new enemy camps, growing your own army as you go, feels seriously rewarding — even if, at times, Sons of Valhalla is a little too punishing for its own good. Still, persevere and you’ll succeed, getting stronger with each victory. We can see ourselves jumping into this time and time again.

This review of Sons of Valhalla has been facilitated by a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PC.

Sons of Valhalla review - GameSpew's score

Sons of Valhalla
8 10 0 1
Heavily inspired by the Kingdom games, Sons of Valhalla is great fun — if not a little too unforgiving at times. It's seriously rewarding though, and the sort of thing we can imagine jumping back into time and time again.
Heavily inspired by the Kingdom games, Sons of Valhalla is great fun — if not a little too unforgiving at times. It's seriously rewarding though, and the sort of thing we can imagine jumping back into time and time again.
8/10
Total Score

We liked...

  • Great pixelated art style
  • Each victory feels genuinely rewarding
  • Solid upgrade system

We disliked...

  • Sometimes it's a little too unforgiving
Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.