Valfaris: Mecha Therion by Steel Mantis
Valfaris: Mecha Therion is the follow-up to the excellent Valfaris, a Contra-style run and gun side-scrolling shooter. Where its predecessor was a firmly grounded affair, Mecha Therion takes to the skies in the titular mech and switches up the genre for a space-shooter experience.
While many features have been transplanted into the sequel, this is a new angle on the twisted world of Valfaris.
The story grinds on in the over-the-top, metal-meets-grimdark-inspired style that the series has embraced from the outset. The eponymous Therion is tracking down his nemesis, Lord Vroll, and jumps into his deadly combat mech to bring the fight to his enemy. Launching to the skies, Therion once again unleashes a torrent of vicious firepower on hordes of hapless foes.
Heavy Metal Thunder
Despite the genre change, the action is just as solid and well-refined as in the original game.
A core tenet of the games is managing a limited power meter in a constant ebb and flow to optimize Therion’s destructive abilities. In Mecha Therion, the power meter is used up by whichever primary ranged weapon is equipped; when power runs out, the weapon becomes much weaker and does limited damage.
Replenishing energy is as simple as striking foes with a melee weapon or waiting as it slowly recovers.
Swarms of foes cruise across the screen to attack Therion in the oldest traditions of the genre. I found myself reminded of Thunder Force 3 from my Genesis days; Mecha Therion holds its own well when compared to the greats.
The constant back-and-forth between blasting enemies away at range and switching to aggressive melee strikes makes for engaging combat, and the option to upgrade weapons at regular intervals ensures a solid sense of progression.
New tools of destruction become available at a decent pace, and there’s always a fun new way to reduce targets to fiery ruin.
Enemies are well-designed and extremely varied. I found the presence of human-sized troops, barely visible on the ground and firing their ineffectual rifles up at Therion’s mech, quaintly amusing. From giant bugs to weird space-fish equipped with massive laser weapons, Mecha Therion has a wide array of brutal creatures to contend against.
The visuals here are just as distinct and well executed as they were in the original game; Mecha Therion is oozing with metal album art vibes, grimdark horror, and Giger-esque monsters.
The music also falls into familiar patterns with heavy metal dominating the soundtrack. If this aesthetic is for you, then Mecha Therion has it in spades, and if it isn’t your thing then it might be time to get out of the mosh pit as this game doesn’t do anything by halves.
Valfaris: Mecha Therion is a solid sequel that changes things up without losing the core focus on furious side-scrolling shooter combat. Therion’s leap into the skies is elegantly handled and the selection of powerful weapons at his disposal has only grown; if side-scrolling shooters, metal vibes, and grimdark worlds appeal, then you won’t want to miss out on a return to Valfaris.
Valfaris: Mecha Therion is available via the Nintendo Store, Sony PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, and Steam.
Watch the trailer for Valfaris: Mecha Therion below: