To play Valhalla upon its release back in 1983, the gamer had to spend a whopping £14.99 for the privilege. For most people this amounted to many weeks of accumulated pocket money, and suggested the game must be something extra special to warrant such a price.
The game is a graphical adventure written primarily in the Spectrum's native BASIC programming language with a little machine code thrown in for good measure. The top part of the screen depicts the player's location in colourful, detailed graphics whilst underneath a textual account of the action provides a communication interface between the player and the game.
The game's text parser is clever, understanding complex sentences and astutely identifying any (more traditional) swear words. Typing in an unfavourable word or phrase sees a dwarf enter the graphical scene and punch the player's character, obviously the most appropriate punishment for such insolent, rude behaviour. The adolescent player, of course, often had more fun testing the games "offensive" word list than playing the actual game.
The main challenge of Valhalla is to collect six mythical objects scattered around the land. On your journey you bump into a variety of computer controlled characters, some with good intentions, others with a hidden agenda. Helping the good guys creates positive karma, and in times of need these guys come to your aid. Helping the bad guys, as in real life, always yields appropriate consequences.
As you sit back in your chair, pondering your next move, you soon realise that the game runs quite independently - characters interact with each other and move about screen with intent and purpose, all without any input on your part. While this is an impressive and intelligent aspect of the programming, it does mean you role in the game is somewhat open to discussion.
Valhalla was one of the first true graphical adventures on the Spectrum, moving from the static backdrops of such games as The Hobbit to an immersive, interactive experience. With its Nordic backdrop, bold colourful graphics and detailed character animation, Valhalla quickly became a hit with adventure gamers looking for a little more than just text and wizards.
8 / 10