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Archvale - Indie Game Hidden Gems

archvale screenshot
Like RPG's? Like pixel graphics? Like loot? Like crafting? Like a challenge? If you answered yes to all, or some, of these questions then Archvale might be for you. Available on PC Game Pass and the Microsoft Store at the time of writing the game is also available on Steam. 

Archvale brings back memories of 16 bit console games, the game world is made up of 'rooms'  (individual screens) and you clear a screen to move onto the next screen. Possibly best described as an RPG / bullet-hell mashup, the game revolves around running around killing monsters, finding wands, swords, armor, gold and materials to craft other items. Once you are powerful enough then you can fight bosses to move onto other areas or access other upgrades and then repeat the process until you have found all the pieces of the 'arch' referenced in the game's title (I am still in the process of completing it as I write this so cannot divulge anything further).

It may all sound 'very run of the mill', 'done before' and 'more of the same' however Archvale is definitely none of these. A well-crafted, polished game that is certainly not something you are going to run through in a few hours. Very much 'breaking the mould' (or 'mold' if you prefer) in terms of the current trend towards procedural/random dungeon crawler roguelites, Archvale has a set level layout which doesn't change whilst you are playing through. Meaning, if you die, when you respawn the levels will still look the same and will not have all randomly changed into completely new (and confusing) maps.

The game itself looks, from an aesthetic perspective, very much like a game you might buy for your kids and something you would disregard yourself, cute and superficial at a quick glance. This is, however, definitely not the case and the game is surprisingly difficult with a lot more under the surface. Whilst the opening few minutes or hour may seem quite easy the difficultly level dramatically increases as you progress. If you previously scrolled past it without downloading on Game Pass or Steam thinking, 'kiddy game' then scroll back and take another look as this was my initial impression and is not a fair opinion of what is actually a challenging, fun little game.

There are a few negatives, due to the game mechanics, it can become a bit repetitive and you will often have to replay the same screens of the game over and over again to progress as every time you replenish life at a fountain all the enemies respawn. Some areas are just too difficult at first which will mean you may have to grind other areas you have played before for coins to upgrade before being able to move on. Also, other than completing the main quest, there is not an awful lot else to do which will make it a bit too linear for some players. However, all round, if you are looking for a challenge that is not too heavy on stats and storyline and that you can pickup and play for an hour or two then definitely worth trying out. Check out Archvale on the Microsoft Store and on Steam.

THE GOOD:

  • Cute, bright & cheerful - safe for kids
  • Much more of a challenge than you might think
  • Crafting, upgrades, exploration, different weapon classes
  • Runs on lower end hardware
  • Available on PC Game Pass (at time of writing)

THE BAD:

  • A bit too difficult & frustrating at times 
  • Can become repetitive
  • Pixel graphics are not for everyone
  • Cloud saves not working (for me)
  • Linear progression & exploration
  • Might be too difficult for kids



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