When it comes to making a beautiful game, Endless Fluff has proved they know what they're doing with Valdis Story: Abyssal City. This metroidvania is unquestionably stunning. If the game were a plant, it would be incredibly pretty, but many might find its berries indigestible. Frequent difficulty spikes make this one that will appeal to a very specific sort of player.

As an action platformer with a heavy dose of exploration, Valdis Story does this aspect of its job well. There are plenty of enemies to dismantle and treasure chests to unlock throughout the levels, so progression tends to move at a decent and engaging pace. The normal enemies don't pose too much of a threat. You'll have to pay attention while fighting groups, but single foes are dispatched easily enough. These fights are best used to learn the ins and outs of combat, how to use the dash mechanic, and discover the uses of your magic spells.

As expected, new paths open in old areas when abilities are learned. Wall climbing, double jumping and platform creation are some of the ways the game extends your arsenal of moves. Of the two characters, the world is best explored with Wyatt, the male character. The female lead is less useful by a fair enough margin that the first boss in the game feels nearly insurmountable. Of course, the bosses represent difficulty spikes no matter which character you play as, so be prepared to fight for your life.

Pattern recognition is half the battle. The other is patience. If you rush in, chances are you're not going to survive for long. Each victory I gained against a boss came after at least a handful of defeats. This is fine, so long as the player feels like they're making progress. However, a particularly poisonous boss was so frustrating I had to put the game down. This happened on normal difficulty. My lack of superhuman dexterity leads me to believe that level grinding normal enemies to build my power would be the most feasible way to defeat him, but that isn't the greatest precedent to set for future fights.

While Valdis Story is gorgeous, it's not for everyone. Those interested in a challenging (sometimes frustratingly so) experience should inquire. Others should proceed with caution. It's available for Windows through Desura for $15.