Video Game: Valdis Story: Abyssal City
Valdis Story: Abyssal City is an indie Metroidvania
created by EndlessFluff Games, a two-person company. Unlike most other Metroidvanias, it focuses more on combat over other games of its type, with combat closely approaching a 2D version of Devil May Cry
Its story starts off with The Hero
Wyatt and his crew in pursuit of a demon ship that might have clues on the whereabouts of his missing father, but before they manage to board it, a huge whalelike monster attacks their ship, scattering them all over the titular Abyssal City. Wyatt heads out and starts searching for his crew and clues about the situation they're in.
The game is available both on Steam
- Absurdly Low Level Cap: The maximum level is 20, which doesn't take much effort to reach if you try to find all crew members, get enough materials to upgrade all weapons and armor and find all hidden items. However, since levels are far from being the only source of your strenght, there's still plenty of things you can do to power up your character even after you reach the maximum level.
- Assist Character: A large number of them, they can do a variety of things from attacking enemies to healing and buffing you. Like your character, they can also level up to make them stronger and lower their cooldown between uses.
- Bonus Boss: There's a number of them, but they work somewhat differently than usual: 2 of them are always fought at some point of the game, but fighting them early prevents everyone in a late-game location from getting killed by the boss and saves you another boss fight later in the game, respectively: both of them also give you items that're required to craft 2 of the weapons. Another boss fight involves a possible Dual Boss, the other boss powering up and getting a second form: if you choose not to spare the other boss' life earlier, the Dual Boss fight won't occur, which deprives you of an unique item that's needed to craft a set of armor. There's also a pair of completely optional bonus bosses who mainly exist to give you stat boosts and additional ending scenes when you beat the game.
- Cast from Hit Points: Several accessories allow you to do this with spells. One of them gives you the usual variety, while another gives overall stat boosts and allows you to deal more damage to demigods and gods but with a large HP cost for each attack outside of Focus mode.
- Combos: As implied earlier, this is one of the main focuses of the combat. Strangely enough, high hitcounts and actual combo rank are only tangentally connected and the latter is mostly determined by using attacks that have as many somewhat arbituarily-defined property tags as possible without getting hit: with the right attacks, you can reach the highest combo rank in as few as 4 hits.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Angels are predominantly white and blue, demons are mainly red and black and ferals are generally yellow or green. The map also marks any rooms with an exit that requires a specific key to enter with a matching color and chests with common items in them are usually grey while the ones with unique items are yellow and red. It's rather handy.
- Elemental Powers: Each character has access to 2 unique elements with their own set of spells, and by defeating bosses, gains Fire, Ice, Lightning and Void-elemental spellsets, each of which has a secondary function that's required to access new locations: Fire's Dragon Fist breaks down stone walls, Ice's Ice Tower creates ice pillars to stand on, Lightning's Bolt Jump functions as a Double Jump and Void's Black Hole creates a slow-moving sphere of energy that allows you to warp to its location, bypassing traps and crossing large horizontal distances. Each element also has a status aliment associated with it that can be inflicted either by the respective offensive spells with a base chance equal to your Affliction % or with a static chance with specific magic weapons:
- Light causes Silence, which prevents spellcasting.
- Darkness causes Corruption, which prevents HP and MP recovery and reduces Armor and Resist by 30.
- Divine causes Reckoning, which increases Divine damage by 40% and reduces Armor by 15.
- Fire causes Burn, which causes Damage Over Time.
- Ice causes Freeze, which makes the target immobile and unable to defend. Physical attacks shatter the ice and deal extra damage.
- Thunder causes Static, which reduces Attack and Magic by 50%.
- Emergency Energy Tank: You can get up to 3 of these, both for your HP and MP. They fill the respective gauge by half when it empties out completely and are made reusable again when you save your game. However, since they're part of your rank calculation for boss battles, you're better off not relying on them.
- Equipment-Based Progression: A partial example. Due to the limited number of levels and inability to increase some of the stats to a significant degree naturally, many of the armors and accessories provide numerous unique effects and mechanics: most armors can be upgraded and in addition to gaining higher stats, also upgrade their unique mechanics. Accessories in general provide some kind of a specific benefit but balance it out with a drawback.
- Evolving Attack: The assists, Focus Finishers and spells can all become more powerful in a variety of ways: assists eventually level up (their current maximum level seems to be capped by your own: to level an assist to lv2 requires you to be at least lv5 yourself and so on) and do more damage and hits, heal more and have lower cooldown times when you keep using them, Focus Finishers either become more powerful with your character level (for your default one) or when you reach sufficiently high base stats and then talk to the crew member that teaches it to you and finally, spells do more damage, heal more, gain bigger, faster or a larger number of projectiles and may gain other properties when you trade rare items for an upgrade to a specific element, but there's a limited number of said items and you can max out 2 elements out of the 6 possible at most.
- Gameplay Grading: Each boss battle is graded, ranking you based on style which is a combination of combo rank and damage/hits taken, time taken to beat the boss and the number of Potions used. The higher the rank, the larger the bonus you get for a stat and the more experience you gain. As stated above, S-ranking Bonus Bosses is one of the few ways to get additional skill points. Thankfully, the ranking is moderately lenient in sense that you can take a lot of hits and still get an overall S ranking if you don't end up using any Potions and make up for it with high combo ranks. The game also rounds up your ranking, meaning that as long as you get at least A in the combat rank (which is the hardest one to get an S on, assuming avoiding all enemy attacks and getting highest combo ranks isn't what you excel at), you'll still get an overall S.
- God and Satan Are Both Jerks: Both Myrgato and Alagath are genocidal, totalitarian tyrants. Myrgato at least is up front about her evil; Alagath and her minions are full of smug self-righteousness.
- God Was My Copilot: Most of the major events in the game were orchestrated by the Not Quite Dead Valdis: she was the one that caused Wyatt's ship to sink, made sure they survived the fall that followed and talked to each character in their intro. She did it on purpose in regards to Reina to inform her of her true nature and make sure she was capable enough to handle her new role, but Wyatt was sort of an accident since she mistook him for his father, but since he was just as able to take his father's role, her goal was accomplished all the same.
- Guide Dang It: Due to the multitude of complicated systems being at play at any given time, unique terminology used and an overall lack of indepth guides to refer to, figuring out the best stat distribution, skill tree paths and weapon upgrade paths tends to be complicated, to say at very least, especially since the only choices you can revert to any degree are your stat and skill point distributions. A few more specific examples:
- Good luck finding all of the crew the first time through: they're all over the place and some of them only spawn after advancing the story far enough, although thankfully you can't permanently miss out any of them outside of the ones listed below under Lost Forever.
- You chose not to spare Dhistahn's life after fighting him in the sewers? The Dual Boss fight described above won't happen, meaning you can't get an unique item needed to craft a set of armor afterwards. However, he and the other boss you would've fought at the same time drop the usual boss items of their race if you fight and kill them seperately, giving you an extra copy of each to use in Item Crafting over the single endgame item that you might not even find that useful.
- It's possible to have the population of 3 of the game's 4 towns to be killed off if you don't take measures to prevent them: Tagrum can fall victim to angels if you don't talk to the Elder after you finish Guardian Temple but before you fight Treu and Gernot, Ishk's possible fate is as described below and if you don't kill the Yeti before you visit Ishk, the people in the Dungeon will be killed, as described above.
- Hailfire Peaks: The setting is a some sort of a variant of this: while it seems to be cold by default to the degree that multiple areas that people live in need a mana heater to keep them liveable, the town of Ishk is located right on top of a volcanic area, but still needs one to keep it warm. In fact, when their malfunctioning mana heater finally breaks down later in the story, the whole town instantly grows cold, and if you don't fix it in time, the entire town ends up being evacuated.
- Harder Than Hard: In addition to the God Slayer difficulty, there's also an unlockable Goibniu Mode that forces you to play through the entire game on a single sitting with no saves available and scores you on various aspects such as time and boss ranks when you either die or manage to beat the game.
- Idiosyncratic Combo Levels: By using a large variety of attacks and actions (such as blocks, skill cancels and evades), you can reach higher combo ranks that multiply the amount of EXP gotten from a kill as well as vastly increasing the rate at which your Focus gauge fills. The levels themselves in order are Novice, Fighter, Brawler, Soldier, Warrior, Knight, Duelist, Destroyer, Warlord, Legend, Stigandr, Sword Saint, God Hand and God Slayer.
- Item Crafting: One of the main ways to get new items and equipment from the NPCs and upgrade your armor and weapons. However, unless the end result is another material of a higher tier, it's hard to say whether the items in question are actually being crafted or just traded, seeing as there's no money in the game beyond the Rare Random Drop described below.
- Kill One, Others Get Stronger / Level Scaling: While the actual enemies you fight at any given room rarely change, they get stronger as you progress with the story and defeat more bosses: they gain increased stats, become more aggressive and gain access to new abilities, such as becoming invisible when hit, starting off invisible until you get close and gaining barriers that you need to destroy before you can harm them. On higher difficulty levels, many of the enemies start off in their upgraded form ability- and AI-wise and just get stronger.
- Lag Cancel: One of the main mechanics: Secret Scrolls give you up to 3 natural Skill Cancels, and you can get 2 more with specific pieces of equipment. They allow you to cancel your attacks at any point, perform an invincible dash that goes through enemies and if used in midair, quickly stomp the ground to activate switches and break out of a Cycle of Hurting.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Other than the playable characters, there's 20 named crewmembers to find, each of them with their own Lore entry and function: some of them function as assist characters while others run stores.
- Lost Forever: Any items and crew members you don't pick up in the Mana Crystal Mine before it collapses after you defeat the boss. Furthermore, if you don't defeat some bosses before you progress the story to a certain point, they might attack a friendly town and kill everyone in it, costing you all the items and services that would've been available in it. Before the game was updated, instead of the trigger for the above being story progress, it was a set number of hours as determined by the ingame timer. Finally, if you don't beat the Bonus Bosses with an S rank, you're permanently out of a skill point.
- A less obvious example of this are the weapon upgrades: there's only so much Tamahagane available in the game, which is required for the best weapon upgrades, meaning you can fully upgrade only 2 of the 3 weapons, assuming you don't waste any on the third weapon. There's also a limited number of armor upgrade items, meaning you can't upgrade all of them.
- Karma Meter: There's a bar that shows whether your current alignment is demonic, neutral or angelic which is determined by your currently equiped weapons, spells and assists and skilltree choices: interestingly enough, this has no actual story function and only serves to give you different bonuses based on each main stat depending on which side you focus more on.
- Luck Stat: Despite the large amount of Guide Dang It mentioned above, Luck's effects seem somewhat better understood than on average: putting points in it increases a number of other stats by a small amount, there's a Luck-based Focus Finisher and you need a minimum Luck of 5 before Ancient Coins can drop from enemies.
- Magikarp Power: Compared to most other playstyles, putting the majority of your stat points into INT is close to this: since you'll mostly be using it for casting spells and your physical offense is relatively weak in comparision, it's difficult to mount a decent offensive against most enemies early on, with your only MP-economical option being the elemental weapon enhancement spells. However, if you keep at it, you'll eventually gain access to magic weapons, which get a damage boost based on your INT and get a permanent elemental attack modifier based on your currently equiped spells, meaning you'll not only have strong physical offense but powerful spells as well.
- Missing Secret: Since the game is still being worked on, there's a number of equipment slots that can't be filled yet, most noticeably the Focus Finishers.
- New Game+: A very limited variety: the only thing you carry over are the weapons you've unlocked but none of their upgrades. However, since they allow for vastly different playstyles right from the beginning of the game if you have access to all of them, it's still much better than nothing.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Due to the large number of potential builds and playstyles, any one main stat can function as this to a degree, although different characters can't make quite as much use out of some of them: while Wyatt performs well regardless of which main stat you focus on, Reina is better off with focusing towards Agi, mostly because she has several skills that increase her overall damage with higher Agi and because she's more reliant on using Focus Mode and taking advantage of critical hits, the lenght and chance of which are both reliant on Agi, respectively.
- Our Angels Are Different / Our Demons Are Different: For the most part, both of them start of as humans and are either converted over or willingly choose the respective faction depending on which deity they prefer: Angels worship Alagath, while demons worship Myrgato. Neither side is shown to be superior to one another, with good and bad people on both sides.
- Puzzle Boss: Most of them: a large number of them have a secondary blue bar under their lifebar, which can show anything from the status of their shield that you need to destroy to be able to damage them further to their current power reserves, which leaves them weakened once they deplete it via attacking you. The final boss True Anemone is probably the straightest example of this: she can't be harmed directly by your attacks and destroying her shield instead causes her to sandwich you between 2 tornadoes and spam exploding orbs at you which you need to hit to deflect them back at her and damage her.
- Rare Random Drop: Ancient Coins are a global rare drop from any enemy, but in order for them to drop, you first need to collect the 3 that can be found in chests and have at least 5 Luck. Outside of hiring the mercenary Brizhal, they're also used to buy accessories from 2 of the crewmembers.
- Schmuck Bait: In the Abandoned Gardens, there are a suspicious number of seemingly useful items lying around...that are actually disguised Man Eating Plants that pop up, capture you and deal damage until you shake yourself free. Obtaining a seemingly innocent teddy bear from a trader in Hrukk also forces you to fight the Raven early, denying you access to the Library until he's killed.
- Skill Point Reset: A hidden NPC offers to do this to you if you trade him enough items for the opportunity: this allows you to redistribute the points you put into your main stats as well as the points you put into your skill trees.
- Skill Tree: One of the main mechanics: each character has 3 seperate skill trees with general focus on offense, defense and magic. In addition to leveling up, you can also gain additional skill points by gathering Books of the Old Gods or beating Bonus Bosses with the highest rank.
- Smashing Survival: Some enemy grab attacks force you to quickly shake yourself free or take massive damage: this is also the way to recover from being frozen.
- Super Mode: Focus Mode, which heals you when activated and gives you various benefits usually determined by skills at the end of the skill trees mentioned above. When in Focus, you have access to a Focus Finisher, most of which do large amounts of damage to enemies but some of them can have more estoteric effects.
- Useless Useful Spell: Averted for the most part: status effects can be inflicted on basically any enemy, even bosses, but in order to be able to do so, you need a build that increases your chance to do so where it's plausible or use specific magic weapons that can do so, as described above.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: As a plot point: something in the Abyssal City causes the hair of all humans who live there to turn bright white. Since angels and demons are immune to whatever's causing it, Wyatt's crew immediately comes off as suspicious to them.