Reviews from

in the past


Full video review: https://youtu.be/UOqd-po5uP8

The original Valfaris was a fun 2D platform shooter, yet here we are four years later with a sequel in a completely different genre.

Gameplay
The game went from 2D platform run and gun shooter to a full-blown 2.5D side-scrolling shoot ‘em up. It is quite the shift and one I can definitely see turning off a lot of fans, but as someone that likes both genres - I kinda like it.

The game manages to take several of the elements that made the former good and translate them perfectly into the shmup space. The weapon variety and customization, for one. There are plenty to unlock there and each can be upgraded to become even more powerful.

The core to the shoot ‘em up gameplay is solid. It’s not like anything super complex or unique, but does the genre justice and that’s honestly more than I would expect from a complete genre shift like this. The shooting and movement is intuitive, melee is satisfying, the hitboxes are well-defined, and it just feels good to play.

Difficulty
The standard gameplay, as in, outside of bosses, is fairly straightforward and hardly ever caused trouble. The bosses, on the other hand, offered up a fair bit of challenge, especially later on. I felt like it was a good balance, but of course, you could make it even more difficult by ramping it up to the “hard” difficulty level.

Camera
The game’s camera was probably my biggest enemy. It felt like it was overall too slow for the new gameplay here. The delay between enemy spawns often felt like too much, like there weren't enough enemies. And then there are moments where you have to dodge obstacles in the environment, but the camera would sometimes get me stuck and, as a result, killed by being crushed by the environment. Maybe I am just too used to Cave shmups, but it was a bit annoying and I feel like the game could do with some additional speed.

Story
There is a story here, but it’s really just this tacked-on thing and I wouldn’t say you need to play the first game to understand what is going on here. I mean, there’s not really much to understand in the first place, which is not even a bad thing, just something to note.

Art and Music
The game’s transition to 2.5D was well-managed and I would say that the models and environments look good enough for a retro aesthetic like this, but I also cannot deny I preferred the 2D spritework of the original game. I feel like some of that detail and charm was lost here. Although I will give props to the devs, they did improve on making things more “visible” this time around. I did not struggle with seeing projectiles like I did in the first game.

The music is just as good too. Roughly on par with the first game, with nothing too standout, but nothing really bad either.

Length and Replayability
The entire experience takes roughly 2-3 hours to clear depending on how much you die, so it is less than half the length of the former game, but that’s a pretty standard length for a shoot ‘em up and I can’t say it felt like it was too short or too long an experience. The rate of new content was steady throughout and honestly quite engaging with how often you’re introduced to new enemy types and areas.

There is a new game+ mode as well as secret areas to find and extra modules to unlock, but I cannot say that there is much replayability beyond that.

Performance
I had no issues playing through the entire thing at 4k 144fps on my 3080 Ti. You get the usual settings to change - resolution, frame rate limit, and graphics quality - but this isn’t really a difficult game to run so I am not going to complain about the lack of settings here. It is fairly polished too. I had no issues with bugs or anything of the sort.

Overall
Valfaris: Mecha Therion is a fun follow-up to the original Valfaris that takes what made that one good and slaps it into an entirely new genre. The game is now a shoot ‘em up and comes with some good gameplay, level design, visuals, music, and some really solid weapon variety. That said, the camera is a bit of a pain and the game mostly plays it safe with regards to its approach to the genre, which might not even be a bad thing for some. Regardless, it’s a fun play whether you’ve played the original or not.

A criminally underrated series.

Finished during beta playtests a couple months back.
I'm not a huge shoot'em up guy, but it was pretty fun, definitely prefer it to the original. The gameplay while still challenging is much more fair, similarly to the level design. The audiovisuals are pretty much just like the first game, except this time the graphics is 2.5D, which I don't like as much, but it doesn't look that bad. From what I've seen most of the issues I've had with the game were fixed so I'm just gonna skip the complaining on this one, but yeah - overall it's a pretty fun time.

All in all, this is just an alright 2.5 shm'up that would've been way better if the devs could stick to just one angle or even just plain ol' 2D. As one other reviewer mentioned, the camera likes to be a PITA and depth perception can be difficult when the game decides to shift gears and shout "hey look it's kinda in 3D!". In addition, the hit detection felt janky when it came to explosive projectiles. Sometimes the outer edges of a blast radius would hurt, and sometimes it wouldn't.

There's still some fun to be had despite these issues though. Mecha Therion is far from a traditional shmup and offers secrets to find on top of an assload of weapons that you can upgrade at each checkpoint. I can appreciate that this is trying to do something different as the market is absolutely flooded with bullet-hells catering only to the most hardcore of shooter fans. You know...the ones who say "shm'up" in person.

Lords of Thunder is still the best heavy metal infused shoot 'em up around, but it was a nice attempt. I'd recommend waiting for a sale if this is your thing.