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The Valley Rule

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Rating: 4.3/5 (148 votes)
Comments (34) | Views (9,835)

The Valley Rule

DoraLudum Dare is a competition that challenges developers to create games within days according to a specific theme that's open to interpretation, and with a theme like Beneath the Surface, Ludum Dare 29 has seen a lot of entries with wild variations and styles. Few, however, might be as lovely and intriguing as Ryan Carag and Bill Kiley's puzzle platform game The Valley Rule, which looks and plays something like the whimsical unique of Fez and the work of Nifflas. Using the [arrow] keys to move and [S] to jump, you control a tiny creature lost in a sprawling underground world who must find a way to unlock the massive door trapping you in. You can't do much but jump and push at the beginning, but as you go deeper, you'll find things that unlock new abilities to help you progress. If you fall into what is apparently a very dangerous sea of milk, you'll die, but you'll also instantly respawn at the last save point you activated, which looks like... what is that? Two floating high-heeled shoes and an existential Triscuit? Man, underground civilizations are weird.

The Valley RuleIt's the save points that wind up being annoying in The Valley Rule, typically because you can lose a lot of progress when you die thanks to how spread out they are, and that feels needlessly punishing in a game that's otherwise so beautiful and invitingly mysterious. Because it was made in such a short time, it sort of feels like it's just getting started when it ends. The puzzles mostly revolve around jumps and switches, and getting lost doesn't really factor into it, since if you hit an impassable obstacle, you simply know you have to go back the other way until you find an upgrade to let you past it. None of this is bad by any means, since The Valley Rule is a solid little challenge for its tiny development window, with responsive controls apart from some jumps that demand perfect timing. It just means it's a game that really makes you hope the developers revisit and expand on its potential, which The Valley Rule definitely has in droves. It's not just the style, it's the way an unwritten narrative seems to hang just out of view as you explore, and the way the end of the game makes it feel like you're just getting started on a bigger journey. As it stands, The Valley Rule is simple and short, but with more elaborate levels and puzzles, it could be a serious contender if it winds up being expanded upon.

Play The Valley Rule


Long sessions with repetitive tricky jumping where you have to start from the beginning if you make a mistake = Immediately closed the game when I was almost making it but fell in the last jump. Closed the game and never looked back. It's 2014 already, we don't this sort of crap game design.

starbeamrainbowlabs May 1, 2014 2:29 PM

Good game!

It doesn't take too long to complete, but it is a nice littl game none the less.


triangle pieces that you need to find to open the door are well hidden.


Puzzle design pretty simple, controls were perfect, although the level where you have to wall climb up a slope that angles against you was really annoying. Nice game! But the ending was so disappointing...

Username May 1, 2014 4:36 PM

Short game, easy game, but fun game.

silent george May 1, 2014 5:43 PM

I didn't find the wall climb that annoying, certainly not painful like some high-difficulty platformers.

The lack of save points wasn't terrible, either, but they really should have included one at the start point.

Username May 1, 2014 6:35 PM replied to silent george

What do you mean lack of save points? There were save points all over the place.

john.c.jocelyn May 1, 2014 8:32 PM

Short, but a great game. We need more metroidvania in our lives.

john.c.jocelyn May 1, 2014 8:33 PM

Also, you should update the tags to include metroidvania.

shipoopie May 1, 2014 9:04 PM

I can't find the last triangle. :-(

shipoopie May 1, 2014 9:17 PM

Oops. There it is. Sometimes you just have to post a comment and then

go down a mysterious hole.

This game is pretty neat. Not overly super hard. I feel like if there were several more triangles to get, they would have to invent even harder jumping accuracy obstacles that I would give up on. But, this game didn't reach the hard for the sake of hard level. It just bumps up against it.

Flowing fountains of milk! The cow clouds be praised!

stuart.sa May 2, 2014 12:53 AM

OK, can somebody please tell me where to go from the savepoint indicated in the screenshot here (left or up)?


I think this year's Ludum Dare has a clear winner.

1) The atmosphere was tranquil and beautiful. Couldn't have asked for more than that, really, but the author gave us more anyway.

2) The puzzles were fairly simple. I certainly get that, since he only had a few days to come up with this stuff. Still, wish there could've been harder puzzles.

3) I get frustrated easily, which usually means the game I'm playing is a challenging in most or all of the right ways. What it lacked in puzzle solving, this game made up for in difficulty getting to the next place. Thankfully, the author recognized how stupid it is to punish someone for failing right after succeeding at something so hard, and put save points after every challenge.

starbeamrainbowlabs May 2, 2014 2:18 AM replied to stuart.sa

Your link hasn't come through.

stuart.sa May 2, 2014 5:21 AM

Nevermind, I figured it out. Out of there!

michael.david.julian.lloyd May 2, 2014 8:23 AM

I really liked this. I especially liked the way the puzzles organically built upon each other (I really struggled with the last one but then went back and did another room that actually taught me, the player, the skill I needed to get the last piece. Very nice.)

I was really disappointed that

it just...ended, though. I guess I was expecting something else.


Hm..a bit glitchy (particularly, you can fall through boxes and once my character stopped responding to input until I hit "r" to restart, which I'm glad worked, but then she disappeared from view until I restarted again), much heavier on platforming than anything resembling an actual puzzle, but fairly fun to play all the same. Not bad as a game that was made in a short time, maybe even as a proof of concept.

thegreatescaper May 2, 2014 10:20 AM


Is that really a suitable word to use in a comment that kids might read?

About the game itself, I quite enjoyed it; a very good Ludum Dare Entry (only 48 hours to make a game like this; I tip my hat to the developer).
I had similar complaints to other comments, won't repeat them, but I liked the art style a lot... made me keep going when I lost lots of progress.

Very nice, and a solid 4/5.

gatesda May 2, 2014 12:38 PM

Wouldn't be surprised to see them expand this. From their entry page: "I wish I could've done more with the theme, but we were cutting it close. We had some awesome music for the overworld too."

Username May 2, 2014 12:47 PM replied to thegreatescaper

You're admonishing him for using the word "crap"? It's not even a swear word.

This "we have to protect the children" culture is killing me these days.



High marks for visual style, sounds/music, and the merit of making this in 48 hours. Lower marks for gameplay.

Block puzzles were ok (a bit glitchy as was mentioned above); jump "puzzles" were more frustrating than they should have been. Executing a forced last-second jump over at least two pits of milk(?) took too far many restarts. And jumping up an inward-facing wall felt incredibly like cheating, because the difficulty made it seem like I wasn't supposed to be doing it. Maybe that kind of thing happens in more metroidvanias than I'm used to, but it was the opposite of fun.

The ending could have had more to it, but the unwritten narrative and lack of dialogue made it seem more appropriate to be less flashy. The segment in the black room, where you're shown there's more to this little world than it seems, is more interesting in itself than the ending, and maybe offers expansion or sequel potential.

The game gets more points for environment than gameplay for me. 4/5.

shipoopie May 2, 2014 1:50 PM

Soklp's comment was mean, no matter what words it contained.


I wish there had been one more ability to find, because

then the design could have ensured that the player finds the final triangle in the creepy black room. I found that one second-to-last, and because my final triangle was in a much more mundane spot, it doubled down on the anticlimacticness of the ending.

Pandragon May 3, 2014 12:31 PM

The general art style and game play reminded me a lot of "Leaf Me Alone," another Ludum Dare entry and contest winner.

I was hoping there was a mechanic involving the milk-like larva (considering the theme is "Below the surface."

The difficulty level is average and the map design was complicated to the right amount. Worth a quick play!

Carny Asada May 3, 2014 6:03 PM

Man, that room where you have to wall-climb up a wall that is stair-stepped over your head? &(*^ that room, man.

Axyraandas May 3, 2014 6:51 PM

I enjoyed this one. The atmosphere was great.

The dark room, difficulty, and lack of dialogue reminded me of .flow and its derivatives, but in a platformer. I was hoping for an easter egg somewhere in the dark room, but I couldn't find one. That last chest in the credits portion annoys my completionist side as well, but I can't open it, it seems.

My favorite parts were the ears and the soundtrack, by far. Thanks for the fun game, Mr. Carag and Mr. Kiley.

Axyraandas May 3, 2014 7:01 PM

Also, I feel like a method to go up the

inward-facing wall that leads to the dark room

is to

hold the up and right key throughout the climb, and switch from right to left only long enough to tap "s" twice, quickly.

It's possible that everyone who completed the game ended up doing the same thing, but I'll post it here just in case.


that wall climbing and the jumping sounds are very Knytt

hothotpot May 4, 2014 6:06 PM

I enjoyed this! Reminded me very much of Knytt and Knytt Underground, particularly the black room with the disappearing blocks. I hope the developers expand on this idea and give us a more fleshed out game. I always enjoy a good platformer!

For those having difficulty with the jumping-up-the-mountain part:

This was giving me quite a bit of trouble at first as well, but it was actually easier than I thought. My inclination was to use the arrow key to angle myself away from the cliff wall and then jump up to the next level, but really what you want to do is let yourself slide down a bit from the level above, then use "s" to jump then immediately (almost simultaneously, really) hit the arrow key to angle yourself away, then before losing too much height, hit jump again. This should propel you significantly higher than just using the arrow key to "jump"/fall away from the cliff. I found I progressed with little to no difficulty at all using that method.


This has the exact same water animation as Knytt and the first upgrade you get is "Climb". It has to have been inspired.


Very nice and quiet well crafted game. Yes, inspiration from Cave Story and Knytt underground but still very nice and gentle and satisfying.

https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnrLT_DgOiK7Leoj0eRHY69GNEFT33XtTU June 23, 2014 11:57 AM

Had to google for walkthru to get location of final triangle.
Watched it. Tried it once.

Won't EVER being trying again.

Left wall jump was bad enough.
"Air" jump is pretty lame at the best of times.

I'll just add this to my list of "games requiring pixel perfect jumps that I'll never complete".

It was vaguely playable to there.
Not remotely enjoyable due to TERRIBLE air jump/wall jump mechanics.

Svarta Svansen June 26, 2014 11:02 PM

Phew. That second to last obstacle, I tell ya. It approaches that try, try, try, and try again difficulty of Give Up, Robot. Except this girl doesn't have the luxury of a grappling hook.

isengrin August 4, 2014 2:01 PM

Beautiful ambiance, soothing music, I liked it. The latter drove me to strive and reach the end.

Funny how the music stopped at that really hard climbing sequence just when I really needed motivation. I was half-expecting some humongous boss to appear when it did.

I only wish the author left just one line of text that would made the player lead to some kind of storyline...anything about the world. As it happens, the upgrade tags already made me think...

"The will to climb." "The will to air-jump" Does that mean before that, the heroine didn't have the will to do any of these things...like THE WILL TO ESCAPE? That alone would have made some difference.

As it is, I just pretended it was Zelda's sister imitating MegaMan X and trying to get the triforce to open the door with one extra.


As john.c.jocelyn says, please add the "Metroidvania" tag?


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