By Henry Badilla / July 7th, 2017
|Release Date||June 27, 2017|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Xbox One|
As someone who has been into videogames for a while, I can’t help but think that games are not what they used to be. It feels like we always get the same stories and the same characters, which is why I always loved Japanese videogames, they usually take known tropes and change them to something completely new. Valkyria Revolution is about a war, an evil empire, a group of soldiers, a princess fighting for her kingdom, and a band of stereotypes that join our cold and serious protagonist with a giant sword to defeat evil. But we have a European setting this time.
Our story starts in the country of Jutland, which is undergoing a crisis due to an economic blockade with the neighboring countries that was ordered by the Ruzhien empire. Not happy with their situation, an elite squad of the Jutland army takes action and attacks a neighboring country under the control of Ruzhien, which starts a war between both nations. However, the war was secretly organized by 5 individuals, labeled as traitors by history, and this is the true history of how the liberation of Jutland really went.
As mentioned above, Valkyria Revolution takes place in an alternative version of Europe, during an era similar to the Industrial Revolution. The story revolves around Amleth, the commander of the Anti-Valkyria Squadron and a member of the Traitors, in his journey to get revenge on the empire; and Ophelia, the princess of Jutland who decides to join the fight.
Most of the playable characters in the game exist simply to fulfill a role. Our squadron consists of the dumb girl, the serious girl, the old man who drinks alcohol, the delicate boy and other stereotypes found in japanese media. While these characters are fun and add some comedic relief to the game, they don’t bring anything extra to the main story. Ophelia, on the other hand, starts as the typical princess who doesn’t want to be a burden to everyone, but throughout the game we can see her grow as a character and she ended up being my favorite character of the game.
Unlike the other Valkyria games this is an Action RPG. Each character during combat will have an action bar that, once filled, is able to take an action. In addition to attacking we also have access to a menu where we can order other units to use a specific attack, use items, or perform spells. Unfortunately, we can’t assign spells to any button so casting them becomes cumbersome. For an action RPG, the final battles ended up being a mess of navigating through menus to spam a spell as fast as possible.
Between each mission you can move through a small town to buy supplies or upgrade your characters. The town feels mostly empty, and besides eavesdropping on our squad’s conversation there is nothing to do in it. In addition to the story missions, you can take free missions to level up your characters. Unfortunately, the Ruz empire will try to recover the lands that you have liberated, so you’ll have to take some missions that consist of defending these towns. While the idea is good, the game tends to spawn the same mission several times, and if you ignore them you lose territory, so you end up playing the same mission many times, and the experience points gained is not even that great to justify it.
This leads me to the main problem with the game, it’s just too long. The game has 11 chapters, but almost half of the missions consist of Jutland conquering other countries, with generic bosses at the end, and no relation to the story. There are tons of cutscenes in the game, but they barely add anything new to the plot, only bringing details that the player could deduce by themselves, or are just redundant. Half the game consists of characters rambling about how they love their country.
Combat is repetitive, the AI is always the same during the game. The only thing that changes is that the enemy units have more life, and this is the same for the bosses. On top of that, the non-story missions grant very little experience points. If you want to have units at the recommended level for each mission you will have to grind at least 2 levels after each mission, which could take a while.
Moving to the visual portion of the game, I have no complaints. The graphics are good, the art style and character designs are really well made. The game uses a filter over everything to give it the looks of a canvas, which gives it a unique look. The music is also very well made. This is what we could call a traditional RPG soundtrack, with emotive songs, immersive combat tunes and everything in between.
Valkyria Revolution is a game that tries to do several things. It pretends to be an action game, but it uses a time bar to determine the order of combat. It has a lot of different characters, but it doesn’t know what to do with them. It tries to create this big narrative but the end is predictable. And we ended with a game that’s simply mediocre. I feel that if they had decided to do a smaller game, that ended around the 20 hours mark, some of the problems could have been overlooked, but by increasing its length artificially to ship a 40 hours game to justify the $40 price, all the problems become more evident. I’m pretty sure that there is a group of fans out there that can overlook these issues and will probably have a blast with it, but I wasn’t one of them.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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