The metal gods have opened the gates of hell and unleashed one awesome 2D action game. Are you ready for a bloody good time?
There are 3 main games that I was looking forward to in 2019: Death Stranding, Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince, and Valfaris. So, why was I so pumped about this game? Well, it's by the incredibly talented game developer Andrew Gilmour who created the highly underrated Slain: Back from Hell. Although that title had a few missteps, I could tell that Valfaris took things to a whole other level when I first saw footage of it. Thankfully, I was correct as it's a non-stop action-packed adrenaline rush from start to finish that features tight gameplay which rewards your reactions, strategy, and guts. I can tell already that many reviewers will hate it for this because "Mummy, it's too hard!" but once you learn the ins and outs of its gameplay and memorize enemy patterns, it becomes an extremely gratifying adventure.
You control Therion who is on a quest to rid his home fortress of evil after it re-emerges outside of a dimming sun. That being said, you probably won't play Valfaris for its story as the gameplay is where Valfaris really rocks out with its guns out. Aside from running, jumping, climbing, and such, you'll utilize 3 primary weapons: a sword and a gun as well as a more powerful gun which uses up stored energy that you acquire from striking enemies with melee attacks. Where the combat really shines is in its use of the shield. If you can pull off the timing, you can deflect projectiles and stun enemies who use melee attacks. Therefore, the key to success is parrying blows and wisely unleashing your 3 different kinds of attacks. Of course, there's a wide variety of enemy types so memorizing their often tricky patterns will greatly help you survive. In the end, it's balls-out 2D action that's challenging yet not overly so which makes for a sublime formula.
On top of its excellent gameplay, Valfaris features beautifully detailed and stylish 2D visuals. I'm constantly put off by indie games that recycle textures and tiles to the point where every environment looks the same so it pleases me to say that almost every screen of Valfaris is full of gorgeous detail that really brings its alien world to life. Plus, the heavy metal soundtrack by guitarist Curt Victor Bryant is nothing short of epic. In fact, it makes me wonder why more games don't feature a metal soundtrack as it amplifies the intense gameplay perfectly and lends itself very well to action games in general. In fact, more game devs should just hire Curt. He's awesome!
As you play through the grueling world of Valfaris, you'll encounter plenty of distinct scenarios and fight many super-tough bosses and it all adds up to one consistently enjoyable yet varied journey. Whether you're grabbing onto flying monsters while avoiding enemy fire or taking on a massive robot, you're bound to have a blast. Additionally, you'll acquire more weapons of the 3 types that offer a wide range of attributes. For example, do you want to light projectiles on fire with a flamethrower? How about fire homing missiles? You can even level up your weaponry via earning Blood Metals which enhances their capabilities greatly.
Finally, although I absolutely loved my time with Valfaris, it isn't a perfect game so allow me to discuss 2 small downsides. First, a few segments can really get on your nerves. For example, one part has you climb up a series of ropes with enemies flying around and whenever you get hit, you get knocked down a level even if you jump. Of course, moments like these are few and far between but whenever they come up, you'll be eager to reach the next checkpoint. Last but not least, the campaign is fairly linear with the odd brief alternate path and hidden secret to be found and there isn't much replay value aside from enjoying the awesomeness all over again from the beginning. There will be a new game plus mode (called Full Metal Mode) down the road, though, so look forward to that!
Valfaris is a straight-up indie masterpiece. If you're a fan of 2D action games then you'd be a goof not to play it.
- + Spot-on 2D action that's challenging and supremely rewarding
- + Awesome visuals and kickass music
- + Great variety of weapons
- - Some parts are pretty annoying
- - Fairly linear without much replay value