Don’t let its considerable difficulty and 16-bit style fool you, Volgarr the Viking is not a long lost Sega Genesis action platformer, much as it wants you to believe it is (right down to the pack-in instruction manual PDF). Inspired by the likes of Altered Beast, Ghosts ’N Goblins, and their peers, this title deftly avoids the common indie pitfall of letting the “retro” label rest on aesthetics alone and delivers a truly brutal experience that replicates the philosophies of classic action games to a tee. What results is firm but fair stage design that necessitates memorization and rewards persistence and a cascade of the little quirks that take hours of practice to truly master and feel all the more rewarding for it, all with that almost gleefully surreal combination of not-quite-right gore and lethally nonsensical enemy fauna. Volgarr definitely isn’t a game for everyone, but it knows this and makes no allusions about appealing to the casual crowd. If you miss the punishingly difficult games of generations past this is the game you’ve been waiting for, plain and simple.
December 21, 2013