When Fluxscopic Limited and tinyBuild released the stylish Mayhem in Single Valley back in 2021 on PC, the game generated acclaim from a niche audience on Steam. At its core, Mayhem in Single Valley is a simple action-adventure game, and there is a lot of care and charm put into its presentation despite the short two-hour campaign. Soon to be ported to PS5 and Xbox consoles, some problems cannot be overlooked even if the game provides a solid few hours of fun.
Mayhem in Single Valley centers on Jack, a boy on the verge of moving out for college and away from his dismissive and exhausted family. While packing and preparing to move, an unexpected toxic chemical spill taints the nearby water supply, poisoning nearby animals and turning them into zombies. With the help of an eclectic arrangement of characters, players embark on a journey to cure the town of the new infection. Using vegetables as tools to distract the zombified animals and trash can lids as makeshift shields, Mayhem in Single Valley provides a short and fun adventure for those looking to kill a few hours.
Immediately, Mayhem in Single Valley is captivating with its 2D art style on a three-dimensional plane. Although screenshots of the game will always appear to give the impression of a simple two-dimensional game, there is a noticeable foreground, middle, and background in each level. The depth offered by the art alone should be enough to at least interest players in looking into Mayhem in Single Valley. Colorful, dynamic characters are always engaging and funny. For example, early on in the story, a man estranged from society wearing a tinfoil hat provides the materials necessary to survive several levels. Although the dialogue offers some value for the humor, players will almost always be able to skip tutorials and dialogue boxes without any repercussions.
Gameplay is so forgiving and simple, almost anyone would be able to pick up and finish Mayhem in Single Valley in a single day. Jack is armed with a slingshot that can be upgraded to shoot a variety of different ranges. Controls are always available on the screen and a tutorial is not even necessary, although the story forces players through one anyways. In addition to this weapon, players will be able to pick up items in the environment to shield themselves or distract incoming hordes of zombified pests. The game eases players into the controls before there is any potential for it to feel overwhelming. Though the game is rather short and these are all positive aspects of the gameplay, Mayhem in Single Valley still feels like it overstayed its welcome by failing to introduce new mechanics or increasingly challenging puzzles. Because the difficulty is so stagnant, there is never any sense of accomplishment other than finishing the game’s brief narrative.
There are a few bugs left in the game that are unforgivable and frustrating. In my experience with Mayhem in Single Valley, the autosave feature was completely useless. In fact, saving at all was completely useless. Anytime the player chooses to save and exit back to the main menu of the game, all progress and information are gone. The fact that supposedly saved information vanishes with each play session begs the question of whether the feature was even tested. Additionally, there are just a couple of points at which players could get soft-locked in their playthrough. At one point in the game, Jack needs to create and maneuver across a makeshift bridge. Players can easily cross their bridge over to the island to retrieve the necessary key item, but if the bridge is destroyed or dropped, there is no way to progress. A similar problem occurs when Jack finally discovers the cure for the poison. The developers allow it to be possible for players to run out of resources, making the game impossible to complete. This is unfortunate for those looking to pick the game up on a console, but the PC version has amended these problems.
In the end, Mayhem in Single Valley has enough charm to get away with its several issues. Players looking for a quick, enjoyable adventure might find the game to be a worthwhile investment, but it will likely be an unmemorable experience due to its brevity and abundance of flaws. Even with its issues, Mayhem in Single Valley is interesting enough to provide just a few hours of fun, making Fluxscopic Limited a promising developer to watch.
Mayhem in Single Valley is coming to all consoles March 2, 2023.
Mayhem in Single Valley
Even with its issues, Mayhem in Single Valley is interesting enough to provide just a few hours of fun, making Fluxscopic Limited a promising developer to watch.