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I already love Volgarr the Viking 2 (even though I couldn’t beat its demo)

Key art for Volgarr the Viking 2.
Digital Eclipse
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

I wasn’t able to beat the difficult demo for Volgarr the Viking 2 at Guerilla Collective this year, and I appreciated Digital Eclipse’s upcoming game all the more for that.

Playing demos for unreleased games at events like Summer Game Fest Play Days or Guerilla Collective can be stressful. That’s because, I’m usually trying something that I’ve never played before in front of developers intimately familiar with the game. Typically, I like to beat the demos I play at these kinds of preview events, if possible. When I stepped up to play Volgarr the Viking 2 at Guerilla Collective’s rooftop event in Los Angeles, I knew that wouldd be a tall task.

Volgarr the Viking II Announcement Trailer

Volgarr the Viking 2 is a sequel to a 2013 retro throwback platformer known for being quite difficult. It doesn’t miss a beat in keeping up that feeling of difficulty, although it still feels quite fair in its design. The limited time I had to spend with Volgarr the Viking 2 among a sea of other games, such as Pinball Spire and Grit and Valor – 1949, meant I wasn’t able to master it or reach the end of the demo that Digital Eclipse has brought to Guerilla Collective. I know I’m going to change that as soon as Volgarr the Viking 2 launches this August.

Volgarr returns

Like its predecessor, Volgarr the Viking 2 is a Nordic-themed platformer with beautiful pixel art. The Guerilla Collective demo featured a snowy level filled with skeletons, spikes, and other grotesque creatures. This sequel will feel immediately familiar to anyone who has played a retro platformer like Rastan or Act Raiser that features a larger character, but that doesn’t make it any less tough. I could jump, dodge roll, attack by swinging my sword, and throw a spear to attack or create a temporary platform, and I had to try and fight my way through the level with only those tools.

Oh, and I would die in just two hits too, Ghosts ‘n Goblins-style. Combat is basic, but whenever I’d try to rush through it, I would be punished by an enemy attack pattern I didn’t account for. Volgarr the Viking 2 rewards studying its levels in order to find the optimal path through them. Because of that, I never stopped having fun while playing its demo.

The snowy level of Volgarr the Viking 2.
Digital Eclipse

This level felt fairly designed, with every death  just another chance to learn an enemy pattern or level obstacle. Volgarr the Viking 2 also avoids cheap enemy shots or scary leaps of faith over bottomless pits. Working my way through the level, I definitely mastered the first few jumps and skeleton enemy encounters with ease.

I also used the spear to find some secrets by doing things like throwing a spear into an enemy’s shield and jumping off that. I even discovered one hidden chest that the Digital Eclipse developer said no one else who played the demo had found and discovered a power-up that added a fire attack to my jumps as a reward. I’m excited to dive into the full game and discover all of its secrets.

Punishing, yet encouraging

I did not count how many times I died while playing Volgarr the Viking 2, but it was quite a lot. Still, I typically got a bit further with each death, even though I was always sent to the start of the level. I even took down a giant gross creature that tried to kill Volgarr at what I assume was the level’s midpoint. I did die after that, though, and discovered yet another feature of the game. When players die a lot, they’ll actually become a zombified version of Volgarr that does not take damage from hits and only dies in bottomless pits.

A viking slashes a tree in Volgarr the Viking 2.
Digital Eclipse

This is a welcome feature that gives me hope that even players who aren’t as familiar with these intentionally tough retro-inspired platformers will be able to see the game through. Digital Eclipse is also promising things like a practice mode and unlimited continues for the full game. Hardcore players shouldn’t fret, though; players can also make Volgarr the Viking 2 even tougher on themselves by doing things like destroying checkpoints they could potentially respawn at if they died.

Although I do think I could’ve beaten Volgarr the Viking 2’s demo if I had a little bit more time, a particularly tough section with lots of bottomless pits and some people grouping up wanting to play the game behind me meant I was not able to. Although I’m a bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to beat it and impress the Digital Eclipse developer watching me play, I know I’ll be picking up the full game and seeing this level through.

Volgarr the Viking 2 is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch on August 6.

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Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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