Xbox One

To celebrate the biggest and best Review a Great Game Day yet, I've decided to do one myself. But since you all have a record number of amazing games to check out this year, I'm gonna make this one short and sweet.

Tired of the same old crap from modern games? Not hearing the call of duty? Never been the type to commit grand theft auto? Then boy, have I got a game for you. Allow me to introduce you to Völgarr the Viking, the hardest fucking game you'll play this generation. The best part? It's designed in the style of 16-bit games of yore. That's right, folks: a modern game with a retro feel.

Quick shameless plug for my platform of choice: My particular version of Völgarr is on the Xbox One, thanks to the excellent Games with Gold program that Xbox Live Gold members can take advantage of, so I didn't have to pay for it because I snagged it during a month it was free.

Let's touch on a couple of the high points.

Visuals

Völgarr immediately evokes the look and feel of the Super Nintendo generation, but with the fluidity allowed by modern consoles. While the game has a pixel-perfect appearance, it's buttery smooth (with only half the calories!) with no stuttering or skipping. Honestly, there's nothing like watching enemies shatter into piles of pixelated bone and flesh.

Audio

When you first start this game, you hear what sounds like a synthesized voice, sending you on your quest. Again, this thing was REALLY well-designed and you can hear it in the music and sound effects. The music is fairly simple, and I mean that in a good way, as in it's not overly complex or overbearing. Each of the four main levels has its own theme that really matches with that level's aesthetic. Then there are the sound effects. Every kind of wonderful synth sound effect that you'd expect from a 16-bit masterpiece is here, too. I've found myself playing this game for hours just to listen to the audio alone.

Gameplay

There's only one problem with playing it for hours: This game is fucking difficult. Along with being designed with a retro look and feel, it also has an extremely satisfying amount of challenge. The game is described as "arcade-hard", and I'm glad I own it, because I'd be broke from dropping quarters on this masterpiece. How many times have I beaten it? Zero. How upset am I about that? Not even a little. The ultra-satisfying gameplay makes me want to return to it again and again. Like I said, I can play this game for hours, and die hundreds of times, barely making it past the first level. And I love every minute of it. Sure, I get frustrated. I'd be lying if I said I didn't. But it's a kind of "satisfying frustration" that reminds you that you're playing a quality game that isn't going to hold your hand or patronize you.

Summary

Like I said, this one was gonna be nice and short, so I'm gonna wrap it up right about here. If you have the chance, and want to play a VERY fun, VERY beautiful, and VERY hard game that will make you long for the days of the Genesis and SNES, you should definitely pick up Völgarr the Viking, available on console for the Xbox One, or on Steam for the PC or Mac. You'll be very glad you did.