Wallachia: The Reign of Dracula – Overview
2020 – Pixel core
The Pixelheart team has just released a beautiful new game that is a step down from the best 2D side-scrolling action games like Castlevania and the Valis series. I recently picked up a copy and decided to try it out.
Vlad the Impaler takes Walachia by storm and impales anyone who opposes him (he does!). As his reign of terror spread throughout the land, he burned the house of Elchin Floaria (and with it the city). Kill his family and take his brother to serve him.
Elchin is taken in by an old sage named Christian Rosenkreuz. She will train for years and get her revenge on Dracula.
Mehmed, the legitimate ruler of the land, finally sends you to give the Vlads their heads back. You are accompanied by Silviu, your faithful wolf, the Christian cohorts and Mehmed Constantine and Radu, Vlad’s brother.
Wallachia is a side-scrolling action game. Just like in the classic games he plays, you run, dodge, jump and attack hordes of bad guys. Fortunately, you have your trusty bow and sword to cut down all those who stand in your way, and there will be many.
The main weapon is the bow. You can shoot continuously while driving, with an unlimited number of shooters. You can aim in eight directions while walking or standing on the ground. Along the way, the Christians release birds, enemies, and container upgrades for your normal arrows and special arrows that have a limited amount. For enemies that get too close to you, you can use a sword that can also receive upgrades. It can also be used to hack grenades in the air.
There are seven levels with a wide variety of locations. Among other things, forests, burning campsites, rolling caravans and mountain caves appear. There are a lot of platform jumps, but nothing complicated. Your biggest threat will be the enemies and cleverly placed bosses. Talk about bosses: Each level ends with at least one boss fight and several levels and sub-bosses.
The action is fast and continuous. Enemies don’t call back, but the game is all about keeping moving forward, and arrows flying in your direction won’t be lacking.
To absorb all damage, start with four damage points. They can be upgraded to six with drops. Health gemstones are rare, but they often appear with gratitude in the face of great struggle. Not only do you lose your health as a result of the impact, but you also lose the upgrade you have.
Their four satellites are only used for special attacks. They collect powerballs during the game, and each companion has a normal and strong attack or aid that uses the balls. Your wolf can charge forward in a deadly attack, Christian can heal or defend, Radu can shoot that wipe out the screen, and Constantine can upgrade your weapons. During my first trials I found that I rarely had enough balls to use the improved attacks of my teammates, we just don’t have enough balls. I’m sure as you develop your skills, they become more accessible.
The controls are strict, as you would expect. Running, jumping and double jumping are easy and fast. If you click on the controls and press the skip button, you can continue. While maneuvering you can (and should) constantly shoot with the bow. There is a button to switch to the strong arrows, which default back to the normal arrows when exhausted. While running, you can tilt the handle up or down to pull in these directions. There’s also a Stand your ground button that locks into place, so you can easily shoot in all eight directions.
Your satellites are activated at the touch of a button and you can navigate through them using the shoulder movement button. You can also switch between their level 1 and level 2 attacks by pressing the shoulder and shoulder buttons simultaneously.
While it’s pretty easy to navigate, I ran into a few problems. With the constant shooting, it seemed like I was overloading the keys and not shooting anything. I changed controllers to see if that was the problem, but it was both. If you shoot shooters continuously, sometimes the shooters don’t come out for a short second, but sometimes they do it for too long!
I’ve had two other problems: First of all, you can’t use your sword while walking, you have to stay still. It would have been fun to beat the bad guys along the way, but instead your sword is only used as a last resort or to open crates. And secondly, the sliding maneuver does not harm the opponent. It helps you dodge certain attacks, especially on bosses, or quickly pick up items before they disappear, but I don’t use it much for most enemies because you slip in the middle of it to get sliced up.
The game is very colorful and beautiful. This work is very reminiscent of retro games with a pixelated aspect and a color palette limited by power. It could easily have been a SEGA Saturn game.
As we’ve said before, there are some great places, and no two places are alike. My favorites are the burning villages, the camper and Vlad Castle. It’s full of parallax, scrolling backgrounds and fire everywhere. The locations are graphically impressive.
The enemies all look good, the artistic style is more realistic than fantasy when it comes to the bad guys. They’re not the most detailed sprites or the best animated ones I’ve ever seen, but they do a good job.
Wallachia has a nice soundtrack. The music is varied and very impressive. Level 2 – Scorched Earth is one of my favorites, but they are all high quality.
The voice acting is also fantastic. All the characters were played by talented actors. Another interesting feature is that enemies call out random things, which I think is a good thing. Overall, the sound is excellent.
Because the game is a nod to old/difficult games, it can be a bit difficult at first. One thing I really like is that there are no real cheap shots. If you can understand and practice the pattern, you can get most of the range without getting hit. But it will take time and patience.
They start with three lives and unlimited continuation. The game has no time countdown, so you can continue the game at any level where you die, which helps if you don’t reset the system and then go back to the beginning.
You can see my game below, where I played about four times. But I think with a little more time I can bring them back to zero. The game is designed for speed mode (it also keeps track of your best time in each level). I’d say that’s where the difficulty lies.
I’m a fan of retro games. Especially if they do it right. Without my control issues, it would be perfect. However, this game easily gets 4 out of 5 trogs!
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