18th Oct2019

‘Valfaris’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

valfaris-switch-cover

Although I’m not an ardent fan of the genre (my personal tastes lean more towards prog-Rock that an all-out metal), games that focus heavily on the genre of metal can be very cool. From the cult classic Brütal Legend to the more recent Double Kick Heroes, sometimes the gameplay shines through and, with tongue firmly lodged in cheek, the ‘Metalness’ gives not only a doom-laden soundtrack with gothic, hell-bound visuals but also a dose of humour and self-deprecation, this can be a great combo.

Valfaris starts off with the main character, Therion, a morose and brooding dude with long black hair (natch) on a solo mission back to his home planet to murder his father, whom I assume is a little bit of a tinker.

Chunky, pixelated graphics are used well here, adding a retro gore-fest in a 32-bit era vibe. The controls are pretty straightforward, you have a sword and a growing armoury of (awesomely-named) guns which, when picked up lead to an head-banging session with chugging guitar riffs (good) and a rechargeable shield which needs to be used sparingly. The movement is 8-way shooting (much like Contra, and holds the same limitations in angling at an enemy, on occasion) and the pace of the game is quite swift, with checkpoints every couple of minutes, meaning that death only knocks you back slightly, always giving a sense of progress.

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The enemy designs as well as the environments are top-notch and satisfying to obliterate. This isn’t a world of stone and wood, but fleshy pustules, dripping, yawning chasms and extremely unfriendly plant-life. As you blast and chop your way through, you are accompanied by a fantastic instrumental soundtrack by ex Celtic-Frost guitarist, Curt Victor Bryant. I’m a sucker for a really booming, slow riffs and Valfaris delivers this in spades, the lack of vocals a very good choice as you can completely lock in on the screen, involved in the meaty action.

The only real negative I can think of is that the world is so rich with detail that in some of the platforming sections (especially the time-sensitive ones) the foreground and background can get a bit mixed, meaning the odd suicidal leap, in error. Of course, due to the generous checkpoint system, it’s never teeth-grinding…until you come up against the saucy bosses, which may take more than one attempt due to the ‘trial and error’ design of their movements and attacks but whilst it may get challenging, it never feels punishing or unfair.

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Valfaris is a really enjoyable game that is doused in Metal in the best possible way, a rich atmosphere and a really tasty soundtrack are your companions on your murder-mission. All this and it features one of the best landing sequences I’ve ever seen at the beginning, completely setting the tone for what turned out to be a game I keep coming back to.

Valfaris is available on the Nintendo Switch now.

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