|Dark Rose Valkyrie
|Idea Factory International
|June 9th, 2017
I was pretty excited when Idea Factory International announced they would be bringing Dark Rose Valkyrie West. The game reminded me a lot of Omega Quintet just by looking at it and I thought if this game had a better protagonist it could really be something special. I later found that some of the Key staff of Namco’s Tales series had worked on this game as well. This included character designer Kosuke Fujishima, and scenario writer Takumi Miyajima. This only made my hype grow, so did this title live up to my expectations? Let’s find out!
The story takes place in an alternate reality Japan where in 1929 a meteorite called the Black Garnet crashed, causing a new type of virus to spread. The virus was called the Chimera Virus, and in exchange for superhuman intelligence and abilities, it would mutate its host into a horrible monster. The virus spread rapidly and the world soon lost 3% of its total population. In order to fight this virus, the covert military agency ACID (Anti-Chimera Interception Division) creates Special Force Valkyrie. Asahi Shiramine, a man with lots of beginner’s luck, is tasked with leading this new force and ending the Chimera threat once and for all.
While they main storyline of Dark Rose Valkyrie may seem a bit basic, the characters and gameplay mechanics that go with it make it something really special. First off, all of the girls and guys in your unit are interesting and I was always looking forward to next time I could interact with them to learn more about them. The fact the girls develop multiple personalities due to the use of the Valkyrie System in combat and seeing them show another side of themselves later in the game is really fantastic as well. Amal’s other personality is so Yandere it hurts, while Luna’s makes Haruka from Senran Kagura look like a kitten if you know what I mean. The choices you make during the character interactions will have a major effect on how this story plays out. This will determine your affection level with each of the girls and this will directly affect the ending you receive.
Asahi has one big problem, however, there is a traitor in his squad. One of the girls is working for the enemy and you will have to determine which girl it is through a series of interviews. In these interviews, you will have to listen and compare various statements made by the girls to try and determine who is telling the truth. Doing well in these sessions is key to earning some of the game’s better endings. At first, I didn’t think I was going to enjoy these sections of the game, but after I got the hang of how this worked, I found myself having a lot of fun trying to figure out which gal wasn’t being honest.
Graphically this one is a great looking title. All of the character and enemy models have a nice amount of detail. The boss enemies look especially nice, as they look like abominations that walked straight out of your worst nightmares. The game runs at a smooth framerate most of the time even when all the crazy skills are being performed in combat. The only real framerate issues are on the world map, which I found kinda odd. These issues do not really break the game, but they are really noticeable at times. The environments are all nicely done and include office buildings, military bases, and abandoned malls. What makes these really stand out are the little details in the lighting that bring this dystopian version of Japan to life.
Dark Rose Valkyrie’s soundtrack is easily one of the best Idea Factory has ever done. The opening theme is powerful and sets the tone for the amazing adventure that will follow. There are plenty of upbeat themes for the lighter moments as well as darker themes when things are getting serious. The battle themes are all hard rocking and get you ready to blast the Chimera menace to pieces. There is both English and Japanese voice work and I thought both casts did a great job in bringing these characters and the world to life. No matter which cast you go with, you’re getting a quality product here.
The game is very much a mission based game. You will take missions back at your HQ and complete them to progress in the game. These missions include gathering materials, hunting monsters, and opening up new locations on the world map. You need to be sure to complete all the side missions in a chapter before turning in all the main ones or you will lose those quests until your next play through. These can start to feel a bit repetitive after a while, but I found it personally satisfying to hunt down bigger and more fearsome enemies to find secrets and unlock better gear. The only part of this I took issue with is the world map itself. The trees block your view of everything on this map, and you can only zoom in so far on your character. This can make certain hot spots on the map hard to find.
The combat system here may look like the one from Omega Quintet at first glance, but looks can be very deceiving in this case. The combat here is active, but time will stop when it’s a character’s turn to input an attack command. Each character has three different main attack combos they can choose from each round. These combos go out at different times so you want to time the attacks to do the most damage to the guard as quickly as possible to break it. If you manage to break an enemy’s guard you will be able to use “Ex Attacks” for extra damage or your back row may light up the enemies with a hail of gunfire in an all out attack. The attack combos are fully customizeable and you will earn new attacks as your characters level up. This makes finding the right attacks for each character a bit of trial and error, but I personally had a lot of fun just trying out different ways to beat my enemies to a pulp.
There are also plenty of special attacks to dispatch you enemies with as well. These will consume a bit of AP but the effects can be devastating depending on how your party is set up. These attacks will require one of the four Valkyrie attachments, these include the assault rifle, shotgun, minigun, or the missile launcher. Party member weapons can be customized to use any of these, but you will want to choose ones that match their skill set the best. You will also earn TP or Tech Points for attacking your foes, which you can spend to activate Ignition Mode or use them to perform Co-Op Arts. Ignition Mode will grant you immunity from status ailments and give you a break from costume damage for a bit. The costumes will break just like in Omega Quintet. While I find the girls running around in their undies adorable and kinda sexy, you do not want this happen since it lowers your defense by quite a bit. The last thing I would like to mention about Ignition mode is Overdrive Mode. If you use TP while in Ignition Mode you can activate this mode. This brings out the girls alternate personality and they become truly raging badasses, damage and turn speed increases and you can really just lay waste to any Chimera that dares stand in your way.
I really enjoyed my time with Dark Rose Valkyrie. The game has an awesome combat system, great story with plenty of plot twists and a cast of memorable characters that will stick with you for quite a while. The writing played a big role in my enjoyment of this title, and the team at Idea Factory International have done a fantastic job on the localization here. Aside from a few technical issues on the world map and missions being a bit repetitive, this is another amazing game to add to an already busy 2017 lineup of great games. It took me around 55 hours to do a single play through of this and there is still tons more for me to explore and unlock here, so this one is well worth the $59.99 price tag. If you’re a fan of games with amazing stories and great characters then you do now want to miss out on this one.
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.