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Video Game / Valfaris

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Valfaris is a brutal action platformer, developed by Steel Mantis and released on October 10th, 2019 for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Like the creator's previous work, Slain, it is brutally difficult and with aesthetics clearly inspired by Heavy Metal, though with a sci-fi setting rather than fantasy.

The game is named after the planet-sized citadel of Valfaris, once a shining jewel in the crown of Emperor Vroll, but which had mysteriously disappeared from all charts long ago, and the Emperor went missing with it. Now, however, it had re-emerged around the orbit of Sol Mori, a slowly dying purple star.

Vroll's son, Prince Therion, was once born on Valfaris, but ever since it was gone, he had long dreamed of hunting down Vroll for his crimes. Now that Valfaris is back, and represents his best chance of finding Vroll, he flies there without a second thought, even if he only has his sword, pistol and Hekate - his wolfship's AI - to assist him.


Tropes present in this game:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Some weapons fire perfectly normal ammo, like rockets or energy blasts. Others fire things like the tormented souls of the damned or a stream of blue light that boils the enemy from the inside out and causes wolf spirits to burst forth from their body and attack other enemies.
  • All for Nothing: In the end, Therion finds out that Vroll fled Valfaris long ago, while its interim ruler, Kyvok, was a noble lord who intended to send Valfaris into the star to destroy its corruption for good, and would have done so even if Therion had never shown up. Then again, Therion did become a lot more powerful by the time he left Valfaris, which would make him more capable of dealing with his father's forces when he encounters them next...
  • An Axe to Grind: A melee weapon you can find is the Blood Axe. It swings faster than your standard sword.
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  • Anti-Frustration Features: Get a Resurrection Idol or Blood Metal, and it's yours forever; you don't have to get it again every time you die.
  • Anti-Villain: Kyvok, as it turns out. He doesn't like the way things have turned out, but doesn't see any other option but to continue on his current path. Said path is flying Valfaris into the sun, and he's determined that all traces of Vroll - like Therion - are too dangerous to be left around.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: After going through the hive area, and having fought Hive Sentinel boss earlier, Therion expects to battle the Hive Queen now. She likewise roars in anticipation of the fight...only for the Exterminator Mech to burst through and immediately drive its energy weapon through her. Lord Kyvok congratulates it over the commlink, but then tells it to deal with you as well.
  • BFG: Every weapon that is not a melee weapon or a pistol is one of these. Unlike the pistols, they consume energy when fired.
  • Big Bad: No less than Emperor Vroll himself, whose hubristic experiments at trying to exploit alternate dimensions have corrupted both him and Valfaris. But since he fled ages ago, Kyvok is the closest thing you face because he's the one running the ship, now.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Justified, as your sidearm is an energy weapon. Though Vroll's Sidearm fires bullets, and they're just as bottomless.
  • Boring, but Practical: Your starting equipment is some of the best in the game. Therion's Own gives you more energy per hit than other melee weapons, while the Plasma Pistol gains a Spread Shot upon being upgraded once, a borderline necessary thing to have in any Run-and-Gun game.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Activating a checkpoint consumes one Resurrection Idol, but at the end of a level, you get the option to trade Idols for weapon upgrade materials, encouraging you to engage in self-inflicted Checkpoint Starvation for the sake of beefing up your weapons. Also, every Idol you hold onto increases your max HP and shield energy, further discouraging you from spending them. That said, you do need to activate a checkpoint in order to upgrade your weapons and change your loadout, so it's not a good idea to skip all of them, either.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Jelly Whip is one of these on a hilt.
  • Damage Over Time: The Knife is a sidearm that fires knife-shaped plasma projectiles that stick into the enemy's body to deal damage over time.
  • Deflector Shields: Thereon has a force-shield buckler.
  • Drop the Hammer: The penultimate boss, Furrok, fights mainly with a hammer.
  • Dual Boss: The second time you fight the Tomb Keeper, another one warps in about a third of the way through the first one's health bar.
  • Dying as Yourself: Once you finally defeat him, Hydrovok, the mutated form of Kyvok, asks you to finish him so that you can end this madness.
  • Energy Blade: Therion starts out wielding a sword of blue plasma. Lord Kyvok wields a large, purple energy sword.
  • Expy: A few.
    • From the first trailers, the game was colloquially described as the "Emperor of Mankind game", due to Therion both possessing a great deal of physical resemblance to Emperor at his prime and being equipped with very WH40K-style armor and weapons, not to mention a similar sort of brutality. Heck, his command chair even sports an Iron Halo. Once released, however, it became clear that Valfaris actually inverts this definition: if anything, you are playing as Horus in an alternate universe where he remained pure and it's the Emperor himself who has been corrupted, and now needs to be hunted down.
    • Therion's only loyal companion and conversation partner of any kind is his ship's AI, Hekate, whose female holographic appearance and personality is reminiscent of Cortana.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Even though Lord Kyvok runs from Therion after you defeat him the first time, (in his Ironclad Desolator mech), in the end, he's all about this trope. As he's literally ensured his own death by driving Valfaris into Sol Mori at this point, meaning that whether or not Therion dies is the only thing left in doubt.
    Kyvok: Therion, you are just in time. Soon, we shall be cleansed by Sol Mori's radiant beauty. Let us enjoy a final battle as we creep towards destiny. It seems fitting that as Valfaris dies, so does a Son of Vroll.
    Therion: Even though I was born on Valfaris, I have no intention of dying here.
    Kyvok: Don't be afraid Therion. We can embrace death together.
    Therion: As tempting as that sounds, I have other plans.
  • Faceless Eye: The Gazer Guard is a floating eyeball surrounded by drones.
  • Flash of Pain: Enemies flash red when hit.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon:
    • The Man O' War, a huge flamethrower which costs energy to fire but does a decent amount of damage per second.
    • The Exterminator Mech is equipped with what appears to be a plasma flamethrower in one hand. The other hand has a cross-like collection of three energy blades.
  • Flunky Boss: Itnan constantly summons bugs to assist him. Arach also has alien spiders crawling down from both sides to assist it.
  • Gatling Good: The first BFG obtained is an enormous Magitek minigun called the Hellwraith, which shoots a barrage of damned souls.
  • Garden of Evil: The third area, the Eco-Dome, is a corrupteds set of gardens, which are now flooded with acid instead of water and are home to all sorts of horrific plant and insect life. A later area is the Dead Eco-Dome, which is a similar area taken over by demons and drained of life.
  • Giant Spider: The fittingly-named Arach is such a creature. Thankfully, its spends the whole battle suspended in the middle of the ceiling practically immobile, only spitting a large orb projectile that has a long charge-up time and can be bounced back to inflict great damage. The only that prevents it from being a total pushover are the lesser arachnids that regularly crawl in from both sides of the screen.
  • Gorn: The game features an almost comical amount of gore and blood. Any combat arena will be painted red and covered by dismembered remains by the time the fight is over.
  • Heavy Mithril: The game's aesthetic combines heavy metal with sci-fi.
  • Hero Antagonist: You eventually find out that Vroll left long ago and Valfaris is actually "ruled" by Lord Kyvok, whose only goal is to purge Valfaris of the corruption left behind by Vroll. By the time you show up, he's already made peace with the idea that the only way to do so is by driving Valfaris into Sol Moris, despite the fact that he will die himself in process; in fact, that is the only reason it resurfaced.
    • Likewise, his second-in-command, Furrok, is a noble warrior who only fights you because he's been ordered to, and his honor disallows him to avoid fighting you.
  • Humongous Mecha: On several occasions, Therion takes over an Exterminator, a large skull-headed robot, to punch through barricades and stampede over enemies.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: Kyvok's plan is to destroy Valfaris by driving it into a star, killing everyone on it including himself. He feels that it's the only way to stop the corruption that's plaguing Valfaris from spreading any further.
  • Laser Sight: One is always present on the sniper rifle of Itnan, the undead brother of Therion. Like with most examples, he would have been better off without it, as it really only lets you know where to dodge.
  • Life Drain:
    • Defeating Arach allows Therion to use its severed leg as a melee weapon, and enjoy life drain at the expense of less energy recovery.
    • The Bishop's Reach is a sidearm that drains life from enemies, but hurts Therion if he fires it without hitting any targets.
    • Upgrading the Blood Axe to Level 3 unlocks the ability to activate Blood Frenzy, a Super Mode that makes the already fast-swinging axe swing even faster and gives it life drain upon killing enemies, but at the cost of constantly draining your HP, so the life drain is really just a way of mitigating the HP loss rather than a way to heal yourself.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Therion has an energy shield which can block shots and melee attacks. Timing it right allows Therion to reflect shots back to enemies or parry melee strikes. However, it uses energy, the more powerful the blocked attack is, the more energy it requires.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Envoy of Destruction, a weapon that fires a barrage of homing rockets.
  • Mook Maker: The first "boss", the Fuel Crystal Chamber, does absolutely nothing at all. However, as soon as you find out you need to destroy it to get the crystal inside, enemies begin to constantly teleport inside until you've wrecked the device.
  • New Game+: An update added this, known as "Full Metal Mode". You keep all your weapons and upgrades from your previous playthrough, but the gameplay becomes even more challenging.
  • Nintendo Hard: Make no mistake, this is a very difficult game. You will die. A 'lot'.
    Achievement Unlocked: "Get Used To It" - Die for the first time.
  • One-Winged Angel: The final battle with Lord Kyvok eventually ends with him giving in to the corruption and turning into Hydravok, a three-headed, flame-breathing hydra. Once you defeat him in that form, though, he regains sanity and demands a finishing blow to end his madness.
  • Platform Battle: Multiple boss battles include a set of platforms, and either most of the normal floor is harmful to Therion, or it is regularly swept by boss' attacks and/or the boss is at times out of reach unless you climb the platforms.
  • The Power of Rock: Therion actually headbangs while a guitar riff plays when collecting a new weapon. Considering the Heavy Metal aesthetic of the game, it's hardly surprising.
  • Puzzle Boss: Gazer Guard is invulnerable in its first phase, but it doesn't directly attack you either. Instead, its "spirit" is placed inside one of the cores surrounding it, and then all of them are reshuffled several times, and you need to correctly track the reshuffling process and hit the right orb regardless.
  • Ramming Always Works: Especially against soft targets. Thereon starts level 1 by running over a squad of guards with his ship.
  • Rise to the Challenge: The battle with Hell Cobra forces Therion to contend with the slowly rising acid pool. The same thing happens when you fight another Hell Cobra near the end.
  • Sequel Hook: The game ends with Therion realizing Vroll left Valfaris long ago as it's destroyed in flames by Kyvok, but he then learns that there nine more traces of Vroll in the galaxy to investigate.
  • Shockwave Stomp: Furrok can smash his hammer into the ground to create a fiery shockwave along the ground.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: The Hellhammer is a powerful shotgun with a very short effective range.
  • Shout-Out: Defeating the penultimate boss, Furrok, awards Therion with a flaming sword that's just like the one used by Bathoryn, the protagonist of Slain. In fact, it IS the same Bathoryn.
  • Sniper Pistol: Vroll's Sidearm is an automatic long-range pistol, and its range only gets longer with upgrading. Then you have Therion's Call, a railgun pistol with infinite range and piercing capabilities.
  • Soul Power:
    • The Hellwraith is a minigun that fires "tormented souls."
    • Energy pickups are implied to be this.
  • Stealth Sequel: To Slain. Therion is Bathoryn's brother, and Bathoryn is the Infinity +1 Sword.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: If you find an Infinite Energy pick-up, be assured, you are about to be utterly swarmed by enemies.
  • Sword and Gun: Your starting weapons are an energy sword and a plasma gun, with Therion wielding both via one in each hand. You will find a plethora of other sidearms and melee weapons.
  • Taking You with Me: This is Kyvok's intention when you reach the final battle with him. He knew that he's corrupted too, and always intended to die alongside Valfaris after setting its course into the star, but now that Therion is here, he considers a final battle to the death before the star destroys them to be a perfect finish.
    • Many other bosses have one last desperation attack after you deplete their lifebar; a self-destruct, final charge, dying spray of lasers, etc.
  • Video-Game Flamethrowers Suck: The Man o' War is an aversion, as it's actually quite good, especially in the area you get it, where it is extremely effective at dealing with the swarms of insects that endlessly pour out of Mook Makers, as it can be quite difficult to shoot said Mook Makers with any other weapon due to the insects constantly getting in the way. However, it makes up for this by being very expensive to fire, depleting your energy bar even faster than the Envoy of Destruction, the weapon which has "high energy cost" written in its description.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: It eventually turns out that Therion's father, Emperor Vroll, had left Valfaris long before he arrived. After Therion defeats Kyvok and flies off as Valfaris is consumed in the fires of Sol Mori, he requests a primary trace scan from Hekate, who eventually picks up nine traces of Vroll, meaning that Therion's hunt could go on for a few more games to say the least.


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