Assassins Creed Valhalla (PS4)

I was sucked into the world of Assassins Creed initially through my love of the sea, and the old sailing vessels of yore. Following my obsession with the Amazon Prime series Black Sails (expertly led by the fantastic Toby Stephens), i was over the moon when Assassins Creed IV “Black Flag” was released on the Nintendo Switch. I snapped it up along with its follow up Rogue and devoured them both during the first lockdown in 2020.

My devotion to Nintendo still remains but fate found me with a PS4, and soon after purchase i had Assassins Creed Origins. An expansive, open world adventure that redefined gaming for me. Naturally i followed that swiftly with Odyssey, and then Valhalla.

I confess the earlier iterations of the franchise have eluded my interest; far less open than the later games, and far more frustrating. So condemn me for that – much like my adoration for later Status Quo rather than the acclaimed early years, it is the latter set of Assassins Creed that i have enjoyed in my gaming hours.

I could fill pages with previous games – this is my Valhalla review.

As the title suggests, this is an epic Viking saga, which introduces us to Eivor (male or female, its your choice) and her half brother Sigurd, in their mission to invade England and take the land as their own. Of course, we are given a much more relatable story of Vikings and violence; there is no raping and pillaging from the old books. Instead we have honourable warriors wishing for peace.

The story progresses through betrayal and heartache but i won’t give away all the details here. Thats for you to explore for yourselves.

The game allows you to do whatever you want, within reason. I myself left all the real story elements to the end, instead seeking out all the pieces of gear and weapons and artefacts and events until the game required me to head to the next major checkpoint.

Because of this, i ended up massively overpowered when it came to the wandering Zealots and monsters; but this is good – it meant that i could enjoy the game rather than get frustrated and angry when i get my ass handed to me by a mangy lynx.

There is a fair element of wandering unfortunately, and the wide variety of mounts available never quite seemed to enliven the long slog between the warp points and destinations. My most memorable moments were taking out whole fortresses of soldiers with my arrows, or assassin diving off monasteries.

And very early i’d exchanged my stupid raven for a Puffin named Puffy.

Its sumptuous to look at, but by its very nature glum and a bit Skyrim-y. Hey, this is the UK, after all. Odyssey by comparison is sunny and beautiful.

But overall, its a phenomenal game. Massive, possibly overlong and the chasing of artefacts across rooftops got a royal fuck-off (the only area i didn’t achieve 100%).

Hey though; its a worthy sister to the previous two ACs – and it has three paid expansions …. will i venture to Ireland, Paris and Ragnarock in the future? Well. Time will tell. I’m a bit Valhalla’d out, having dedicated well over 200 hours to this saga.

The big question is…what open world game will envelop me now? Tears of the Kingdom isn’t until May at least…shall i venture out west and wield a pair of Colt.45s? Or battle mechanical dinosaurs?


It is arguably one of the best franchises of video games in modern times; praised everywhere by gamers not only because it practically re-invented a genre but it delivered that crucial, jade-encrusted triumverate of script, plot and gameplay. In fact make that a quadumverate, because they are bloody beautiful games too. There are five, i believe, of which i’ve played the three PS3 originals.

However, lets imagine you don’t know what Uncharted is and you’re going to see this film because its got a fair cast, and the trailer promises action, puns, one-liners and explosions. And Tom Holland, who is big in cinema at the moment for reasons Stan Lee.

Nathan Drake is a thief, and his thievery is spotted by older theif Sully, who is on the trail of Magellan’s Gold – it turns out the explorer didn’t make it round the world, and wherever his quest ended there is a massive pile of loot. A pile he wants his hands on. (Drake also wants it, but his quest is more of a family thing).

So Sully enlists the help of young Drake (and co-thief / love interest Chloe) and they go off to find the sparkly gold treasure, hopefully before nasty man Moncada (apparent heir to the riches) gets his dubiously legal claws into it.

That was a fair synopsis, i guess. With a mixture of action stolen from Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones and with CGI stunts and nonsence, this promises a silly passing of the time. And it delivers on this. BUT. Its nothing special. And it feels like it should be.

Mark Wahlberg brings nothing to the role. He is bland and without charm – one might think he is pissed that the lead went to a younger actor and he is relegated now to second fiddle. Antonio Banderas is even worse, giving nothing to his villain – not even super camp nastiness – thats all it would have taken.

Thankfully, Tom Holland delivers a solid, watchable performance, proving he is worth keeping an eye on outside of his Spidery-alter ego. We are sure now that Chaos Walking was just a blip.

The use of CGI just reminds us that action films are 100 fold better when stunts look and feel real. I mean, yeah, it wouldn’t have been EASY to do the action scene with all the crates hanging out the back of the plane but…its not impossible. Bond film “The Living Daylights” managed something similar in the late 80s, for example.

My second major gripe is the “laddy bantz”; the constant need to be swapping puns and take-downs and one-liners when…well they’d only known each other for a few hours. The fluency in the script would be perfect if they’d known each other for a few years maybe – but this old guy just recruited this young guy a few hours ago.

Anyway. Thats where my ‘unbiased’ review has to end; this is a standard adventure film with some watchability, but ultimately nothing special. I have forgiven it a lot of faults since my first watch as i just learned it was always intended as a soft-prequel to the games. Its still lacking that core heart of loyalty and pride that similar daft-action-hero films like National Treasures 1 + 2, and Sahara have in droves, and thats what makes them infinitely superior.

That said, i absolutely goosebumped when the Uncharted theme kicked in. The film may not have blown my mind, but i’m off to play through the games again.