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cover-Valfaris: Mecha Therion

Tuesday, November 21, 2023 11:58:35 PM

Valfaris: Mecha Therion Review (American Dove Mitten)

That was an exceptionally enjoyable game, even breathtaking at times, the trailer does not do the visuals justice, much better than just about any space shooter that I played. I was a little worried that the price would not match the experience, we don't exactly get large projects for this genre, but man, there was so much love and effort put into the game, the stages were so over the top the entire time, especially toward the end, and these boss fights, that mecha wolf puts the DarkSoul bosses to shame, so satisfying to finally kill him, top 5 boss fights for me in any game.
You could finish it in about 3 to 4 hours, that is with some practice and not including collecting everything. I played on normal and the game was relatively fair, lots of checkpoints so it's not too frustrating, not like Cube Gothic or Slain for that matter. To be fair, these arcade-like games are not meant to be long, and for the genre, it's still longer than similar games. There is some limited exploration, depending on the level you might be able to look for secrets and a few additional trinkets such as weapons and modules. At the checkpoints you can do various things like upgrading weapons and equipping modules for special effects, nothing too deep but the weapons had a good feel to them, at least the ranged weapons anyway.
I really feel like the stage design was the winner here, there are many nice elements to this game but just the perspective madness is unlike anything that I have seen before - technically I have, but most of the time when games do this it tends to suck. I think the best example and my favorite stage was the one with the laser walkers, just that depth that you feel moving around, also I really loved that effect when the giant ship would fly from the top of the screen, the entire game has so many cool stage elements, like playing inside a metal album cover. Something about the aesthetic here in general is so good, it's not like as old as PS1, but it still has that retro charm and just so much personality on top of it. The story naturally wasn't too deep, but I still think you did a good job teasing the boss fights.
The gameplay felt pretty good for the most part, I thought all of the ranged weapons were satisfying to use, although I found the range on the melee attacks a bit annoying and I think there is some space for improvement. I like that the boss fights had some additional mechanics, like clashing weapons and even doing a counter in a few fights. Also, I like that enemies were not super spongy, it seems if you play well you can beat any boss within a minute or less, I think the last one takes about 2 minutes or so if you doing good, and I think it gives a good satisfaction for weapons, not that artificial difficulty where everything has too much HP.


(+) The stage design was just awesome, good variety between the stages to begin with, but also the perspective changes surprisingly worked really well, just so many cool camera angle moments, I can't say I have seen an indie game do it this well. In general, the aesthetic worked really well and I didn't feel like you reused the visuals too much, maybe a little toward the end.
(+) You can do some limited collection content, some stages allow you to do a bit of exploration, not too much though, just a few hidden items and such. The game has a nice achievement support though, and you can upgrade your weapons, in addition to equipping some active and passive bonuses.
(+) The combat felt pretty good with a few nitpicks, I like that weapons felt powerful and the bosses were not super tanky as they often tend to be. The addition of melee interactions with bosses was nice as well.


Melee Weapons - even though I found the charged boomerang effect very good for DPS between the weapon cooldown, in general, I felt like I was often discouraged to use melee during the stages, and they would become more useful during boss fights. I think it's the range, most games would give you a bit of cleave feel to the weapon so you not using melee right next to the enemy hitbox. I have not collected all modules so I assume you can improve the melee further, but I think the animation could do better if it was a little faster, with a bit more range.
It might be a good idea to let the player cancel out the dash sooner or make the range a bit shorter, it feels clunky when it overshoots just because you wanted to I-frames and you get stuck in corner or behind the boss.
On that note, I also felt the super attacks were a bit weak(those that I used anyway), like I would use a charge on big enemy and still had to hit it for like 4 seconds straight, so like, I think they should at least have enough damage for mid-level enemies cuz you don't get to spam them that often, they would not even kill those random houses shooting rockets, not without upgrades.
I did have one freeze at the last checkpoint at random, and some random lag mostly on the last stage during camera changes.The game did have some issues with the visual clutter, but on most of the stages I didn't mind it, I think the one with the bunkers felt more spammy than others.
Overall Thoughts: 9/10
I really don't think you could do much better for this genre, the visual experience was a highlight for sure, but just overall the game felt pretty good, I especially enjoyed the boss fights and the ranged weapons. At first I wasn't sure how you could justify that price rag, but I can see the reasoning now, it's pretty high-end for an indie I would say, seems like it took a long time to make.
Niche, obscure and underrated games: http://store.steampowered.com/curator/31294838-Hidden-Gem-Discovery/