Favorite genre of music is rock or metal? Me too! I love it. A genre I also adore is platforming. Here we have a great blend of the two. Like its predecessor, Slain, in Valfaris Full Metal Mode you get to destroy hordes of demonic enemies while an awesome metal soundtrack inspires you in the background. You have three attacks at your disposal: a gun, melee weapon, and a devastating heavy weapon that deals a lot of damage at the price of what is basically mana. Upgrading is limited and the resources are usually hidden off the normal path. This holds true for checkpoints, you must collect an item to be able to use them. If you save them, you can utilize a machine to change them into upgrade resources. It’s extremely challenging with an obscene amount of bosses. It may not be for the faint of heart, as it is quite challenging. All I can say is, ‘good luck!’
Here’s what I liked:
Weapons of Mass Destruction — As you progress, you’ll find plenty of destructive weaponry. There are three categories and you can choose the one that works best for you (or the current situation). They can all be upgraded and not only get a damage buff, but it can change the way the bullets look or what the melee weapon does. I only wish I could have maximized everything. You must choose what to upgrade, as you are limited on resources. I believe you can only fully upgrade five weapons, and this happens late in the game.
Slaying to Metal — The music is as brutal as the gameplay, matching it perfectly. There’s just something about slaying enemies while a fantastic, adrenaline-pumped soundtrack is blasting in the background. It’s not too loud and doesn’t drown out the normal sound effects. It’s blended in and is part of the atmosphere. I really enjoyed it too; it didn’t sound generic or awkward at any point. It’s music that gives encouragement. When people run or exercise, they almost always listen to something to help encourage them. It’s sort of like a different way of dancing, keeping your body moving to some kind of rhythm even if it doesn’t always make sense. Something about it keeps people moving. It’s even music I would listen to outside of playing a game. It’s very well done and by a professional musician who used to be in a band called Celtic Frost.
Like a Boss — There aren’t just a few bosses. There are tons. It’s actually surprising how many you’ll be encountering. Besides the normal challenge at the end, you’ll also meet mini-bosses halfway through each stage. They are all extremely different and you must learn the attacks by dying handfuls of times. Sometimes you’ll need to switch weapons to see what works. Besides the thrill of finally executing them, I must say the design is horrifically beautiful. There are so many times I thought “this is impossible” but after refusing to surrender, I managed to win with a sliver of health.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Sacrifice — I’m a bit torn on how checkpoints work. You can usually collect enough resurrection stones to get by. However, after each level, you also can trade these stones for Blood Metal, which is used for upgrading your weapons. This creates options to skip checkpoints in order to hopefully level up your gear later. It’s almost hard to balance, and you have to play until you die so that you can figure out if you’d be able to complete that much of an area without dying. It adds quite the dilemma of trying to balance your upgrading and checkpoints. As the bosses become extremely challenging, it’s almost a necessity to upgrade your favorite weapons (you can’t try them all because it costs too much). I found the second-to-last boss to be extremely tough. I had been diligent in finding almost all secret areas and saving up my Blood Metal. I then researched what the weapons did online and then beat the boss because I found the right setup for my playstyle. If I had not saved my upgrade materials, I would have been in quite the bind and may have never beaten the boss.
A Touch Too Difficult — I’m not sure this is something most people can handle. It’s not for newcomers to platformers and has no difficulty setting. I take that back; there is a new game plus mode where you can make it even more challenging. I’m not always a fan of this approach because it cuts out a lot of people from playing such an excellent title. There are deaths that happen so fast you’re not sure what even happened. There will be unforgiving checkpoints, especially if you are trying to skip some in order to save up to upgrade. If you aren’t careful, you could really put yourself in a bind later in the game. Most of the items needed for checkpoints and upgrading are hidden in secret areas. I was able to look online and see what the best things to upgrade were, so I didn’t have a lot of trouble. But if I hadn’t, I can only imagine how much more difficult it would have been. The worst part is that after victory there is still a chance to be killed in some explosion from the boss. It has surprised me more than once, making me do it all over again. I got to the last boss but he’s proving to be quite the menace. It could be one of those games I get to the end but never will be able to finish it.
You can’t get much more metal than this. Valfaris Full Metal Mode is a package of brutal action and awesome music, yet still holds a nostalgic retro platforming vibe. While I didn’t play Slain all that much, I might go back to it because I absolutely loved this game. There are but a few downsides, but they are based mostly upon skill level which is why I can’t say it’s going to be for everyone. The weapons are fun and exciting, but not being able to fully upgrade all of them is a bit of a letdown. Other than that, it’s a great game that most people will enjoy. I had a lot of fun playing it and hope to see more titles based on the same themes.
Score: Highly Recommended
Valfaris Full Metal Mode was published by Big Sugar and developed by Steel Mantis / Stage Clear Studios on Xbox One. It was released on November 15, 2019, for $24.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.