Surviving is a brutal struggle in this 2D, metal infused, side scroller, but these tips can help keep you alive.
Play in bursts
This is one of those games that can mentally wear you down. Take a little break after about 45-60 minutes. A session of this length still nicely progresses you through the game with an average of 2-3 boss battles. Valfaris ups the difficulty as you progress so remember to keep it short and save your sanity.
Learn your environment
The environment, while brutally beautiful, is pretty typical by 2D side scroll standards. However, there's still a benefit in quickly surveying your playable surroundings. Climbable hooks, hanging ropes, and objects you can shoot down can swing the survival odds back in your favor. Using the environment to attack or protect can make your battle far less frustrating.
Analyze your enemies
There's really no way to know what enemies you will face next, so treat your first run in a new area as a learning experience. Pop in and out of an area to sneak a peek at possible next enemies. Typically after a boss fight, the zone and its enemies change. Flying enemies will knock you off environmental objects or even carry you to yet another demise.
Understand your shield
You'll need to keep track of what attacks you can stop with your shield. Some attacks are strong enough to blast right through and completely drain your shield's energy.
Use all of your weapons
Valfaris gives your three active weapons and a defense-to-offense plasma energy shield. Don't focus on using just one weapon. Maximizing damage is important because you can not dance around forever. Sidearm weapons aren't as effective as energy weapons but it will get you out of many near death situations and fill the gap between energy gathering. Use your shield to catch attacks or bounce them back at the enemy, just don't get cute.
Learn boss patterns
This tip isn't new for scrollers but remembering it significantly reduce your trips to the tombs of Valfaris. It's common for bosses to start a berserk mode around 1/4-1/2 health bar remaining. This is when your fatigue can really show itself so learn your movement pattern and place of attack as soon as possible.
Some boss fights can have a 'self-destruct' ending, because there's nothing like escaping with a sliver of health and then instantly dying by a surprise self-destruct... Watch for bosses that flicker, bleed, and don't deteriorate instantly.
Search for Blood Metal and Rune Stones
Rune stones are used to activate checkpoints and can also be converted to blood metal. Blood metal is the resource used to upgrade weapons and can generally be found off the beaten path. Valfaris allows you to carry a high number of stones so do not hesitate to convert a couple at a time, but hold onto one to activate the next checkpoint.
Headbanging wont make the game easier but it might improve your moral. When your character finds a new weapon headbang along with him and praise Valhalla.