STAFF REVIEW of Valfaris (Xbox One)


Sunday, February 23, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Valfaris Box art I’m always a sucker for a game that brings back waves of nostalgia, reminding me of games I grew up with. Valfaris, now with an included Full Metal Mode, did just that, bringing me back to a time where pixel art games were hard as nails and didn’t hold your hand even the slightest. I enjoyed their previous game, Slain: Back From Hell, for many of the same reasons; amazing pixel art, a kick ass soundtrack and more than a fair share of challenging gameplay. If I had to make a direct comparison for its gameplay, it’s akin to a Contra or the classic Batman for NES.

You are Therion, born of a place called Valfaris, and as you are scouting the far reaches of space, it seems the lost Valfaris has reappeared, though now infested with a near endless horde of enemies and monsters. You’ll now return home to find out what has happened, but it won’t be any easy task, and you’ll die many times, as such is the case in games like this.


Therion begins with a simple gun and sword, but as he adventures further into the deeps of Valfaris he’ll uncover more savage weaponry to help him defeat his enemies. Full of gore, violence and metal, Valfaris is a love letter to old Contra style games where the difficulty was brutal but the gameplay was excellent.

You’ll have the classic 8 directional aiming, though at times I found it quite difficult to hit the exact angle or enemies I intended in the thick of battle. Your enemies start out basic and won’t pose much of a threat, but as you venture further, they become much more challenging, with plenty of bosses that will test your patience along the way. You’ll collect gems that can be hoarded, or used in specific spots as save points, replenishing your health and allowing you to swap out and upgrade your weapons. You’ll need to be strategic though, as some sections will be easier than others, so do you use them at each save point when you can, if you even scrounged up enough, or try and get one more checkpoint further and hold onto them for a little while longer?


Each new area you explore in Valfaris has its own mood and setting, each with its own unique traits, mood, visual style and quirks. One for example has you needing to kill a specific drone to get its pheromones to open certain doors, whereas another has you piloting an awesome skeleton mech that makes you feel like a complete badass.

While Valfaris released last holiday, the reason we’re covering it now is because of its newest update, aptly titled Full Metal Mode, adds new reasons to play if you’ve already mastered the game. This is essentially their take on New Game+ but with a ton of extra additions. For starters, you do begin with your collected arsenal and upgrades, but enemies are buffed slightly with increased health, attack and are much more aggressive; the same goes for bosses as well. There’s also new Destroyer Class weapon to seek out and Therion takes more damage this time around, so you’ll be challenged more than before. While the new Full Metal Mode is a great idea and addition, the core game itself is quite difficult, and I can only see the most hardcore of players getting to not only experience the new additions and challenge, but really appreciate it for its worth.


By far, Valfaris excels the most in its gorgeous pixel art visuals excellent metal soundtrack. There’s a ton of detail and animation in the pixel style, and I want to rock out every time Therion puts up the horns and head bangs when he attains a new weapon. Spearheading the amazing metal soundtrack is former Celtic Frost guitarist, Curt Victor Bryant. You constantly want to rock out and even dying for the hundredth time isn’t as frustrating as I expected, as I constantly had a great soundtrack to fall back on.

I wouldn’t usually categorize a game as ‘metal’, but that really is the best description for Valfaris. I’m not great at Valfaris, given its challenging and difficult gameplay, but I never really became discouraged with it to the point of an uninstall or great frustration. I’m slowly making progress and is an easy recommendation if you’re into challenging games with a retro look, feel and kick ass metal soundtrack.




Overall: 8.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.5 / 10
Sound: 9.5 / 10

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