The game's relatively short, and the controls can be fiddly and unresponsive — but the action's rewarding enough to warrant the asking price more than twice over.
Playing as Thor, the God of Thunder, you're tasked with the rescue mission of three Norn maidens who have been kidnapped by the Goddess of the Underworld, Hel. The story is told through a series of voice acted (yes, voice acting in a Mini!) motion comics, which look stunning. There's also a terminology dictionary if you're interested in the lore. You unlock new words and information as you play through the game's four chapters.
Young Thor's a 2D action platformer constructed out of polygonal characters and environments. It looks stunning on both the PlayStation 3 and PSP, but it particularly pops on the latter's smaller screen. The environments are detailed and varied, providing interesting stomping grounds for Young Thor to unleash his fury. Armed with Thor's trademark hammer, you're able to swipe opponents, lift them into the air and smite them with lightning. The game plays a little like God Of War on a 2D plane, and has a similar combo structure. Like the smash PlayStation franchise, juggling opponents is really fun in Young Thor. The combat can feel a bit woolly when compared to bigger budget character action franchises, but it's still satisfying to link attacks together. We found ourselves pounding the ground to send enemies flying into the air, before spinning around to catch them on the fall, then juggling them into an upper-cut, and finally jumping into the air to finish them off. Once you get the hang of it, the action feels genuinely responsive.
Even more rewarding is the way you gain XP for each character you kill. This gives Young Thor the opportunity to level up and subsequently become stronger. Like Call Of Duty and other big RPG games, it's always satisfying to see your character grow in ability as you spend more time with a game. Unfortunately, this does link into one of our biggest complaints with Young Thor. The game can spike in difficulty quite often. This is usually the case when you're placed in a confined combat space and enemies are spammed onto the screen. The game often requires you to replay levels to grind out experience before you tackle new levels, which can be a frustrating design choice.
Sadly there are only four unique levels in Young Thor, with a final encounter to round out the package. There are alternative versions of each chapter with increasingly difficult enemies placed on them, but these don't provide new content, and are merely a way of extending the experience and grinding out new levels.
Still, the level's that are provided are packed with upgrades to find, and there's even an achievements system built into the game to keep you playing.
The game's fueled by a number of neat visual tricks, such as enemies being flung towards the screen after they've been defeated and a flying boat. Sometimes the level design can get a bit busy due to the complexity of the environments, but it's a minor gripe.
Young Thor's an ambitious title with a tiny price-tag. It's not the most replayable package, but the core experience should keep you occupied for 3-4 hours and it's good value at that. The combat's fun, and the art design's particularly impressive for a PlayStation Mini. Young Thor joins Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess and Coconut Dodge on the pedestal of great Minis.
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