Video games are a fantastic means of escape in which the public can get lost in limitless worlds for hours. All the while, players can explore and uncover secrets, take full advantage of a range of abilities and weapons, and battle enemies of immense size and strength.
Tying these elements together (in most cases, at least) is a plot that drives the action forward. It’s in these stories that games can expand on the world, the characters, and perhaps also teach some valuable lessons along the way. But unlike movies where narratives can be resolved in about two hours, video games have to stretch their storylines to cover campaigns that can last twenty, thirty, or even fifty hours.
While there are plenty of long games that keep their stories tightly paced (The Witcher 3 being the best example), not all titles are equally successful.
Whether it’s because of an overambitious narrative that starts to weigh down the action, or an abundance of content that gets in the way. These are the games that started to feel a bit stale before they hit the final credits.
With the release of Assassins Creed Origins, Ubisoft has turned the stealth-action series into a massive RPG experience. There were plenty of side quests, collectibles, and areas to explore in addition to a massive revenge plot set in a well-realized Ancient Egypt. The follow-up, Odyssey, was even bigger than Origins; but even this ancient Greek epic has been overshadowed by Valhalla.
Set in ninth-century England, Valhalla sees Viking protagonist Eivor establish a new home for his clan as he works to forge alliances with kingdoms across the land. These meaty sagas take up most of the Valhalla campaign.
Meanwhile, a subplot revolving around the Hidden Ones, the Order of the Ancients, and Norse gods runs alongside Eivor’s main adventure. Although starting slowly, this storyline becomes the main focus late in the game.
As grand as Valhalla is, it’s less effective when it comes to effectively balancing these storylines.
As the plot reaches its final act and unveils potentially groundbreaking revelations, the pacing takes a hit as the narrative returns to Eivor’s quest to secure power in England. The quest solving the long hunt for the Order of the Ancients is an even bigger anti-climax, ending Valhalla on a disappointing low.