Valfaris isn’t interested in pleasantries and introductions. The Slain: Back From Hell spiritual successor is a headbanging romp across an alien planet that lets the action do the talking. Teeming with the Devil’s deadliest associates, it’s 2D shooting mayhem that manages to match impressive enemy designs with hellish weaponry ready to slaughter.
There’s clearly no rest for the wicked down under, with an unrelenting horde of creatures to blame. This is non-stop conflict that only just makes enough room for a handful of enjoyable platforming sections here and there. That’s no bad thing, however, because Valfaris is intensely exhilarating. Equipped with a melee weapon and two guns of your choosing, downing enemies is relatively simple but it becomes a vastly different experience as more and more combatants flood the screen. Crowd control is a consideration while the game borders on becoming a bullet hell shooter.
That doesn’t mean it’s mindless. Ammunition for the more heavy-hitting weapons is governed by pickups claimed from melee kills, so you’ll have to mix things up more often than not. A healthy number of boss fights introduce more unique mechanics to think about, while their designs are worthy of marvelling. Extraordinary pixel art gives life to a selection of extravagant environments that wouldn’t look out of place in the darkest pits of hell, while a suitable, ripping heavy metal soundtrack plays to the title’s strengths.
Some may struggle with enemies that feel like they respawn a little too often, but this is by no means as tough as Dark Souls. Valfaris doesn’t do anything noteworthily new, but the hectic, intense, satisfying experience it offers shouldn’t pass you by.