Video games are a fantastic means of escape where the audience can lose themselves in limitless worlds for hours. During this time, players can explore and uncover mysteries, take full advantage of a range of abilities and weapons, and battle enemies of immense size and strength.
Connecting these elements together (at least in most cases) is a storyline that drives the story forward. In these stories, games can expand the world and characters, and perhaps teach some valuable lessons along the way. But unlike movies, where the narratives can be resolved in about two hours, video games need to expand their plot to cover campaigns that can last twenty, thirty, or even fifty hours.
While there are plenty of lengthy games that continue their stories at a tight pace (The Witcher 3 is the prime example), not all titles are as successful.
Whether it’s due to an overly ambitious narrative that’s starting to weigh on the plot, or a plethora of content that gets in each other’s way. These are the games that felt a little stale before hitting the credits.
With the release of Assassin’s Creed Origins, Ubisoft transformed the stealth-action series into a massive RPG experience. There were numerous side quests, collectibles, and areas to explore, in addition to a massive revenge plot set in a well-realized ancient Egypt. The sequel, Odyssey, was even bigger than Origins; but even this ancient Greek epic was eclipsed by Valhalla.
Set in 9th-century England, Valhalla sees Viking protagonist Eivor create a new home for his clan as they work to forge alliances with kingdoms across the land. These meaty sagas make up most of Valhalla’s campaign.
Meanwhile, alongside Eivor’s main adventure, a subplot revolves around the Hidden Ones, the Order of the Elders, and the Norse gods. Although this storyline starts out slow, it becomes the main focus in the late game.
As great as Valhalla is, it falls short when it comes to effectively balancing those storylines.
As the storyline reaches its final act and potentially groundbreaking revelations, the pace takes a massive hit as the narrative switches back to Eivor’s quest to secure power in England. The quest that solves the game-long hunt for the Order of the Elders is an even greater anti-climax, ending Valhalla on a disappointing low.