Valkyria Revolution Review
Featuring magic, mechanical wonders, and a heaping dose of manga influences, SEGA’s Valkyria Revolution takes a look at an alternate-reality Europe. Should you take the fight to the Ruzi Empire, or is it more of a losing battle?
Valkyria Revolution Review
Those who have yet to play any of the games in the Valkyria Chronicles series need not worry, as Valkyria Revolution is a standalone tale with its own motley crew of characters. Told via a series of stories that took place 100 years ago, the game stars a band of warriors known as the “five traitors.” The main protagonist of the story is Amleth Grønkjær, a member of the anti-Valkyria Vanargand squad who is on a mission to free the land of Jutland from the evil oppression of the Ruzi Empire. What follows is their journey to rally the troops, gather materials, and bring peace to their war-torn industrial land.
The plot is fairly straightforward, and feels like it was ripped right out of a budget anime. There are a number of fantasy elements in play here, including the use of magic through ragnite stones, bipedal metal monstrosities, and giant glowing swords. Character designs also take a page from Final Fantasy’s handbook, with suits bearing blue flames, large heart chokers, and belts galore. These elements do give this game some unique flair, but the end result feels so cliche. Put simply, everything from the characters to the magic to the world is something you’ve no doubt seen done elsewhere.
Perhaps the biggest problem here is the poorly paced plot. People take ages to get to the point, and a number of long awkward pauses punctuated with grunts (signified with “…”) are thrown in that would be unnatural in normal conversation. Scenes are not well animated either – lip syncing doesn’t match up to what is said and the pantomime actions of the cast are wooden. This slow pacing is weighed down even further with frequent loading times between key scenes – it’s not uncommon to set the controller down for more than 30 minutes at a time and just watch the game rather than play it. Put simply, it can give Metal Gear Solid 4 a run for its money in terms of sheer cinematics.
When the game does give you control, however, the structure for each mission is more or less the same. After planning out your squad loadout, it’s time to hit the battlefield. Missions usually consists of destroying all baddies or taking over a base, both of which play out similarly. There is an ability to capture said bases and take out commanders, both of which affect enemy morale. Most of the game has the land of Jutland slowly expand into new territories, taking over each area and slowly crushing the Ruzi Empire. It can get a little repetitive at times, especially when the next big mission plays out just like the last.
The combat in Valkyria Revolution is an interesting beast. Unlike the more strategic setup found in Valkyria Chronicles, Valkyria Revolution goes for a more hack-and-slash dynamic. Players can freely move around, and attack enemies at the press of a button. Both a dodge and a block are available, as is the ability to use cover. There is also the ability to change squad formations and choose which character to control at the drop of a hat. Players can also pull up magic, weapons, and medicine at the press of a button. Things get interesting when it comes to the meter each character has. Players must wait for a meter to charge before doing any action, feeling like a more kinetic version of Final Fantasy’s Active Time Battle system.
Unfortunately, this system can often feel clunky. Most characters automatically do a three-hit attack at the press of a button, with no option to adjust the number of swings. Cover is often available, but it sometimes feels more like an obstacle than something conductive to battle. When choosing magic or other options, it can feel somewhat jarring to stop and start the action multiple times. When the enemy throngs mostly consist of the same soldier, it can feel like an exercise in tedium…and frustration.
There are some light RPG elements to the game too. Characters level up, and different abilities can be unlocked using the Mana Engine. There is also a crafting system that allows you to make new gear. The “Promenade” hub also has a number of shops where you can get new equipment and other goodies. It’s not the most novel thing in the world, but it is a welcome addition nonetheless.
Valkyria Revolution fails to live up to the pedigree of its lineage. Though it tries something new with its dynamic battle system, the clunky execution will leave players frustrated and yearning for something different.