Space, the final frontier. A vast void that spans endlessly for an eternity. There are countless systems in the universe, as well as trillions of civilizations waiting to be discovered with their vast amounts of knowledge and technology. However, the people at Steel Mantis Studios and Upper Cut Productions don’t care about knowledge, technology, or intergalactic peace, because in space, no one can hear you rock. From the makers of Slain: Back From Hell comes Valfaris, a brutally challenging game that fuses hard-core action and violence with a roaring metal soundtrack accompanied by a tremendously detailed presentation. I had an opportunity to play the entire first chapter at PAX WEST, in between the incredibly bustling booths of the Indie Megabooth. After a long-play of the demo, Valfaris is shaping to be a loud and roaring good time, but not for the faint of heart.
Valfaris is a game for those that are tough enough to take on the brutal challenge of facing bloodthirsty enemies in the far nether reaches of the universe. The demo took place during the game’s opening acts, and immediately put players in the midst of the tremendous challenge of staying alive. As easy as it may sound, Valfaris does not hold back on punishing the enemy and the player. For those familiar with the studio’s predecessor, Slain: Back From Hell, they will be at home with the game’s brutal mechanics. Valfaris is a game where repeat gameplay and strategies are a must if players wish to survive.
While Valfaris shares many similarities with the Slain: Back From Hell, Valfaris is an entirely new experience. After crash-landing on a strange, hostile world, players will fight for their survival against alien soldiers, synthetic canines, and radioactive monstrosities. To aid them in this quest, players are equipped with a laser pistol, a powerful energy sword, and a limited, but effective over-shield. Don’t rely on the shield too much, as it is limited and does not make one invincible. The enemies ranged from grotesque mutant monstrosities to alien robot canines that fire missiles from their backs. Of course, there was also the typical alien soldier determined to shoot the player, or use melee weapons. Additionally, the levels themselves would be platforming, with traps, such as spikes, providing a quick end for those that weren’t careful or precise.
Despite the brutal challenging and the almost near constant stream of death, my time with Valfaris was incredible! The metal soundtrack was tailored to the overall experience, and every player, myself included, had their heads bobbing up and down to the music. The action was aggressive and satisfying, as every slash of my energy sword yielded gory results. In some instances, my sword would disembowel an alien, leaving their intestines to hang out, while their legs aimlessly walked around on their own. Even firing the laser pistol was satisfying, though, it was wise to use this for distant targets.
The demo took me across dystopic alien settings, filled with vibrant blues, greens, and reds. The hyper-detailed pixelated style gave the game a sense of weight and gravity. When you cut through enemies, you could get a sense of the movement and momentum of cutting down a large foe. This was most especially satisfying during the mini-boss sequences. In one instance, I had to face a cybernetic canine the size of a bus. I would die multiple times during this stage, as the canine deployed lasers and missiles towards me. Despite the multiple deaths, I would eventually persevere and survive, seeing the synthetic hellhound explode in a vengeful fury. Movement and platforming felt nice and refined, but of course, tricky. One section of the demo had me searching for fuel to ignite the engine of a wrecked ship. To do so, I had to fight small robot alien spiders, and also jump to avoid traps and pits. Of course, one bad move was instant death, but these areas were nice palette cleansers from the carnage.
I cannot stress enough the game’s difficulty. I got to the final boss, but due to the time restrictions, I had to end my demo. Only one other person had slew the boss at PAX WEST, meaning that the game will undoubtedly be challenging. Despite this, I can’t recommend Valfaris enough. The game’s gameplay is shaping up to be sharp and visceral, and the overall presentation is making Valfaris a distinctive game among many others like it. I’ll certainly be looking rocking hard to Valfaris when the game launches.
Valfaris launches in April 2019 for Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.