One of the most notable things about developer Iron Gate’s Viking-themed, procedurally generated, bestselling survival title Valheim are its graphics. While subjectively beautiful, even on high-end machines the game has a slightly pixelated look that is reminiscent of the bygone days of gaming. That effect was entirely intentional.
In a recent interview with PCGamesN, Iron Gate CEO Richard Svensson explained a bit of the development team’s thinking when deciding on Valheim’s aesthetic. Many of the employees at the studio are fond of the graphics of the PlayStation 1 era, and this is reflected in the game’s visuals.
Beyond that, the lower poly count servers a more practical purpose, allowing for quicker creation of in-game assets and permitting gamers with lower end PCs to enjoy the game as well. Players with more robust graphics cards and processors can still profit from their investment, however, as the game features an array of settings to boost Valheim’s visual appeal with options for bloom, sun shafts, soft particle effects, and vegetation quality, among others.
According to Svensson, the gaming market is currently filled with a number of multiplayer survival games, such as Rust, which has become a major presence in the video game streaming community in recent months. While Valheim does have a PvP mode that can be toggled on or off, the intended experience is PvE based and, as such, Iron Gate looked to a number of single-player adventure games for inspiration, including 2017’s Breath of the Wild, whose graphics have been emulated by a number of games since its release.
Svensson closed out his interview by recommending the Swedish death metal band Amon Amarth as a great soundtrack to listen to while playing Valheim. Amon Amarth, whose lyrics are likewise inspired by Viking mythology and history, also recently released their own game, an 8-bit side-scroller available on mobile devices in which players are tasked with guiding Thor through an enemy-infested Midgard.
Valheim released in Early Access on Steam on February 2, 2021, and immediately became a major hit in the gaming community, so much so that game developer Panic Button’s Head of Production Dan Hernberg recently mentioned that the “dream” game he would love to port to the Nintendo Switch is Valheim.
The game’s appeal is not only its graphics but the freedom that it gives players to build nearly anything they can conceive of. Earlier this week, Reddit user GIPv posted images of his modest recreation in Valheim of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral. Other impressive projects have included rebuilding Sauron’s Tower from The Lord of the Rings, Stormwind Harbor from World of Warcraft, and even an ongoing reconstruction of the entire town of Whiterun from The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim.
Valheim is available in Steam Early Access on PC.