It's always a joy when a game previously released as a paid title on iOS is given a soft paywall for Android users. That's the case with Grimvaolor, a brand new hack-and-slash RPG action platformer that just launched in the Google Play Store with the first of five acts available for free and the rest of the game unlockable with a single in-app purchase.
I've seen Grimvalor described as a Castlevania-Dark Souls hybrid that takes the side-scrolling platformer action of Castlevania and mixes in the notorious difficulty and grim art direction of Dark Souls. I think it's a very apt description of the gameplay and tone. The trailer above also does a great job showing off the speed of combat and variety of enemies — but the best way to see if this game is right for you is to play it for yourself!
The first act of the game introduces you to the mysterious world of Vallaris where you find a kingdom without a king that has been ravaged by dark enemies. As one of the last remaining warriors who can swing a sword, it falls on you to explore and rid the world of enemies including battles with grim bosses and stalking hunters who can easily take you down with just a couple of blows.
Grimvalor really shines with how it handles combat. You start out with very simplistic controls — three buttons for jump, attack, and dash — and the game layers on new ways to attack as you progress and level up your character, but even from the very start the combat controls are spot on. You're able to easily juggle enemies and link dashes, jumps and attacks together as you dodge the enemies attacks and chain together a nice satisfying combo.
Rest points are scattered throughout the game and give you a chance to regain health. It's also where you can level up your character and assign trait points which improve your character base stats. These also act as save points and offer a brief respite from the dark chaos that surrounds you.
The first act of Grimvalor is yours to try for free — and this ain't some rinky-dink mobile game with shortened levels and one-hit enemies. Each level branches off into multiple directions so there's incentive to explore and seek out hidden items. Sections of Grimvalor are relentlessly challenging with the bigger baddies sometimes knocking out half your health with a direct hit. That's where you learn to master your dodges and attacks. You should expect to spend a solid one to two hours playing through the free portion of the game — and assuming you enjoyed beating the first half, the rest of the game is just waiting to be explored for a modest $7. More of this, please.