Monday, 27 January 2020

Asylum Reviews: Valfaris [Xbox One].

Steel Mantis’ Valfaris is a surprisingly difficult platformer with a lot to offer. Their previous game, Slain: Back from Hell was well received, so we were excited to play their latest title. Set in space to a heavy metal soundtrack, it gives off a lot of DOOM vibes. Long ago, Valfaris vanished without a trace, and has now mysteriously reappeared in the orbit of a dying sun. You play as Therion, who has come to save his home of Valfaris, and figure out why it has returned filled with evil and darkness.

Gameplay feels intense, with hordes of enemies coming after you, leaving you feeling particularly vulnerable. Controls felt decent, aside from some slight floatiness whilst jumping, and an occasional stuttering frame rate which left you open to attack when you least expect it. You start off with simple weaponry, and can unlock better and more powerful weapons as time goes on. You also have a shield to defend yourself against enemy attack, but sadly you are unable to move whilst using the shield so it can lead to some easy mistakes being made.

You can also collect souls which will enable you to upgrade your weaponry. Four souls can be taken to a checkpoint for these upgrades, which brings me to my next point: Checkpoints! These can be skipped to increase your rewards later, but at least for me, they were unavoidable. Missing a checkpoint was just a guaranteed death for me, as I'd quickly end up overwhelmed by enemies without the safety net of a recent checkpoint to spur me on.

Art style is interesting and retro, with lots of bright colour and detail. Despite being a modern game, it follows the old style way of building up a scene with different layers to almost fake a 3D-style. Everything looks great, with lighting adding to the atmosphere. The sound design is what really elevates things, as the heavy metal music really adds to the situations and amps you up for the fight.

Enemy designs are varied, with each behaving in their own way. Learning their patterns is the best course of action, and allows you to utilize skills you’ve picked up along the way.

 Weapon choices are great as each have their own cool designs and differences between them. Some weapons are more efficient against bosses, whereas some might be best against a room with tonnes of enemies in it. I liked how they all had unusual and interesting names as well, such as Hellwraith, Embryon and Skysplitter.

Figuring out which weapons work best against certain enemy types and what ones fit your playstyle best requires a little trial and error, but adds another layer to what Valfaris has to offer.

At just £20.99 on Xbox Store, it's a decently priced game for what it includes. And if you're a fan of these kind of games, and a fan of heavy metal music, then you'll be in your element here. The framerate drops were a bother, but didn't happen often enough to leave me frustrated terribly by them.

In the end, we decided to give Valfaris the Collecting Asylum rating of 7/10.

Have you played Valfaris yet? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Thanks to BigSugar for the Valfaris Xbox One review code!

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