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Video Game / Valley

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Valley is a first-person platforming game with some action elements, built on the Unity engine. It was developed and published by Blue Isle Studios and released in 2016.

In it, you play an archaeologist on the hunt for a mysterious "Life Seed," a mythical artifact said to hold enough power to destroy the Earth. After being stranded in a mysterious valley in the Canadian Rockies, you uncover the ruins of an ancient civilization as well as the remains of American government bases. You also find an experimental "L.E.A.F. Suit" exoskeleton that gives you greater speed and jumping power, as well as control over a mysterious "amrita" energy that can give or take life. So armed, you explore the valley in search of the Life Seed and the rest of the valley's secrets.


Valley contains examples of the following tropes:

  • 100% Completion: Optional objectives are collecting all the medallions that are required to enter the pyramid, and finding all the secret doors that can be opened using acorns and hold energy upgrades. For this, you have to travel back to previously visited places after you get upgrades for your L.E.A.F. Suit later in the game.
  • Abandoned Laboratory: Found late in the game, filled with failed experients and specimens.
  • Ability Required to Proceed: Throughout the game you'll find upgrades for your L.E.A.F. Suit, which are required to advance further through the game.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: There are several air-duct-like passages around the facility.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: There are usually plenty of orbs around to collect energy from, and they regenerate. Sequences in human facilities replace them with amrita generators that can hold the equivalent of ten orbs at once, and they also regenerate. In short, although energy is your health, ammunition, and primary platforming resource all at the same time, it's very hard to run out.
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  • Apocalyptic Log: The government facilities and equipment are all abandoned, with no trace of anyone beyond audio logs from Virginia and Dr. Fisher discussing the military's discoveries and activities. They eventually reveal that Fisher's misuse of the amrita energy and the destruction of the valley caused the wendigos to attack the bases, killing off all the personnel. Fisher records the last audio log in the middle of the attack, and it ends with him being killed.
  • Beautiful Void: The world is full of wildlife, but no one is around to talk to.
  • Boss Room: The only boss in the game is set in a sealed rounded arena filled with human bones and energy orbs liberally placed around the outside of the perimeter, quite clearly signposted.
  • Collapsing Lair: At the endgame, you have to escape the Astra Facility while it is falling apart.
  • Collection Sidequest: Finding ancient artifacts to unlock a pyramid, and acorns to unlock special areas to gain hidden upgrades.
  • Crate Expectations: Hidden throughout the world are a series of crates that have been left to the elements since WWII. Inside they contain important documents, rations that increase energy, suit upgrades, energy upgrades and of course, acorns.
  • Developer's Foresight: In case you somehow manage to clear an area with a mandatory upgrade by skipping said upgrade, you will have the upgrade applied in the next area, thereby allowing you to use that upgrade. This includes the Life Seed, meaning that speedrunners only are required to obtain the L.E.A.F. suit.
  • Driven by Envy: Dr. Fisher's actions as head of the military operation can be traced to his rivalry with J. Robert Oppenheimer and his Manhattan Project.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: For a completely off-the-books, secretly built facility which could have only be constructed within a six-year period, there is a massive underground structure.
  • Equivalent Exchange: When the player character comes back from death, it drains some of the life energy out of the valley.
  • Essence Drop: Killing Wendigos will normally earn the player two energy orbs and maybe an acorn.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At one point you can come across a slideshow in the Soma facility about the Pathfinder program. One of the slides show a Pathfinder in front of the silhouette, stating "Pathfinders can die from containment breaches." What is the silhouette of? A wendigo.
    • They're hard to see because of the lighting, but in the Soma facility you can find an awful lot of bloodstains... and not a single body. Later, you discover the remains of hundreds of people in a pit underneath the Astra facility, where the wendigos dragged them to be fed on by the alpha.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Tampering with amrita energy too much causes wendigo-esque creatures to appear and attack anything not of the valley. The military personnel were annihilated in such a way years earlier.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • If you die while wearing the L.E.A.F. suit, you get revived. This game mechanic is referred to in-game as Quantum Death, where you survive in another reality. However, dying is not without cost. It will drain life from the valley itself, which you have to restore using your own energy supplies.
    • The Astra facility draining life from the valley is represented as scripted sequences where plants and animals around you spontaneously die and the in-game meter representing the valley's health takes a hit.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Alpha Wendigo shows up in the last level with no context beyond the players suddenly finding themselves in a sacrificial pit. Due to the context of the story, it's obvious that the developers couldn't use the real Big Bad, Dr. Fisher, as any kind of final boss, as he was already dead, so they had to settle for a final boss only peripherally related to the protagonist's main objective.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The entire story of the military installations in the valley, partly as a side-effect of the entire operation being top-secret, due to wanting to avoid the project being infiltrated by Soviet and Nazi spies like the Manhattan Project was. The protagonist's story is one as well, as far as we know - not only is the Life Seed destroyed in the process of saving the valley and the world in general, the protagonist is forced to abandon their LEAF suit to avoid drowning, and after hearing one last recording from Dr. Fisher gloating about the power of the amrita being capable of allowing a select few to rule the world, the protagonist dumps their God Hand into the water, implying that they had decided that no-one will use that power, and they will take the secrets of the valley to their grave.
  • Green Aesop: Dr. Fisher was determined to create a weapon of mass destruction, even if it meant destroying the unique life in the valley.
  • Hidden Elf Village: A remote valley in the Rocky Mountains contains the ruins of an undiscovered ancient civilisation and a secret wartime research complex. The game is set in the 1980s.
  • Karmic Death: Andrew Fisher gets his just desserts after experimenting on and using the daemons as energy sources, courtesy of the Wendigos killing him. Sadly, this also results in the slaughter of the rest of the personnel, including the two people who were actively trying to stop him. Added bonus for him locking away all the leaf suits, the only way to defend against the Wendigos, prior to the attack out of paranoia.
  • Leap of Faith: At one point there is a waterfall which you don't see behind. You have to jump off of it without knowing where you'll land. You'll land safely if you gain momentum before jumping, but fall into water if not.
  • MacGuffin: The Life Seed, which the protagonist is searching for. They retrieve it from the Soma facility, but they end up needing to use it to stop the Astra facility from destroying the valley and the world, causing them to lose it when Astra collapses, and posibly consuming what's left of it by using the cannon. The game does mention that a new Life Seed is created every 1,000 years or so, but it is unknown when the Life Seed of the game was formed, or if the tree would even be able to create a new Life Seed after Astra malfunctioned.
  • Mad Scientist: Andrew Fisher is determined to create a weapon that can be used to take over the world.
  • Mayincatec: Oddly enough, the inhabitants of Susurrus Valley have many trappings of this despite living in a remote valley in the middle of Canada. This includes Olmec-style stone heads and hands, a Maya-esque pyramid, and a religion emphasizing human sacrifice and cannibalism.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After Soma base, removing the lifeseed causes the Astra base to malfunction and begin sucking energy from Susurrus, with the strong implication that once the valley is dead, it will spread until the entire world is dead unless you shut down Astra.
  • Powered Armor: The L.E.A.F. suit enhances the wearer's speed, agility and endurance, and by infusing the wearer with amrita energy, they can even avoid death itself through "quantum death."
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The player eventually learns that the blue orbs that can power the L.E.A.F. suit are in fact the embryonic forms of the daemons.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: The only thing your gender affects is your character model (which you can only see part of), and a few sound effects.
  • Puzzle Platformer: You spend a lot of time jumping and swinging over chasms.
  • Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: When someone wearing a L.E.A.F. suit dies, the amrita energy in the suit enables their consciousness to shift to a different reality in which the wearer is still alive. Dr. Fisher dubs this phenomenon "quantum death," comparing it to superposition and Schrödinger's Cat.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Most of the machines are still working despite half a century of abandonment.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The lead scientist developed a machine that can make its users immortal (at least from their perspective) by allowing them to change dimension to one where they wouldn't die, but it looks like they were rather intent on creating a big bomb. Oh, and there's the extremely mobile exoskeletons and the ability to drain life from living creatures that would've given US soldiers a significant advantage over the Axis powers without needing to make a fancy bomb... An additional layer of irony to this is that had Dr. Fisher decided to play it safe and focus on the LEAF Suit technologies and their applications for troop mobility, hand-held weaponry that doesn't destroy infrastructure, and medical applications of bringing people back from the dead, and avoided doing unnecessary damage to the valley, he would've been gained the fame and distinction he craved (as Oppenheimer's nuclear weapons ultimately became infamous and feared for its potential to basically cause the apocalypse), the United States would likely have dominated battlefields across the globe, millions of lives would be saved, and the Life Seed likely would've been used to prevent the world's destruction, rather than be the source of it. And with the Cold War, he would've have plenty of time to more sustainably develop an alternative to nuclear weapons, and perhaps figured out how to produce amrita energy without taking it away from other living beings. It was ultimately Fisher's impatience and envy that caused him to lose sight of the incredible things he was already achieving, instead attempting to outdo his colleague and rival. Instead, his attempts to make fancy new bombs and an extremely powerful cannon ultimately gets himself and everyone else on the project killed (partly due to locking up the LEAF Suits out of fear of sabotage after the first sabotage attempt happens because he was going too far), and his own megalomania convinces the game's protagonist to ensure that the valley and Project Pendulum will be completely forgotten, despite Fisher's desire for his achievements to be remembered.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The forest sprites/"daemons" look like tiny ghosts with a perpetually shocked expression and a pair of antlers, make squeaking noises, and according to the logs, are universally adored by the Pendulum staff.
  • Rise to the Challenge: Subverted. When you enter the core of the Astra Facility, you get warned about an emergency flooding procedure in case of a meltdown, which you trigger by the end of the sequence. Despite that, the escape is not timed, you are simply running around a modified version of the map that's filled with water.
  • Scenery Porn: The entire valley looks really good, especially the large open areas you can explore.
  • Shown Their Work: The idea of "quantum death", where the L.E.A.F. suit shunts the user's consciousness into an alternate reality where they didn't die, isn't that far off from the notion of quantum immortality.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: The story is pieced together via found documents and audio logs.
  • Super Drowning Skills:
    • Go further than knee deep in water and you respawn. Justified as you're wearing a heavy suit of metal.
    • While it's reasonable that you'd swim as a brick with the L.E.A.F. on, put even a pinky in a body of water and you'll inmediately respawn even if the water was clearly not deep enough to drown in.
  • Take Your Time: In several parts of the game, you are urged to hurry. Yet, you have all the time to explore, even during the Collapsing Lair in the final section.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: You need energy to proceed at several points. Most of the times you have some means to restore it within reach, but there are a few places without orbs or batteries (that replenish over time), so if you somehow managed to drain all your energy (which the game goes a long way to make sure it won't happen), then your only chance is to drain the life of something. If you managed to kill even those, you can still commit suicide, so you get shunted back to a safe place where you can get some energy. Except if you already killed most of the valley and killing yourself would result in a game over.
  • Unobtainium: Amrita energy is a nebulous blue substance infused into every organism in the valley, and is closely linked to life energy. The military pursued it as a potential alternative energy source (or rather, potential weapons of mass destruction), and it also powers the L.E.A.F. suits.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can restore the forests and bring helpless deer and bunnies back to life.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Where in contrast you can render the environment a barren wasteland and harvest the lifeforce of any helpless creature you see in the game to gain more energy.
  • Wham Line: "You bastard, you knew! You knew the orbs are daemon embryos!"