Established franchises face different issues than new series. Fans might flock to a franchise, but they go in with certain expectations. How the story is approached, tone, gameplay and so forth. Even if it is easier to be successful, there are more limitations. Even spinoffs suffer from this, as fans ultimately want to see the game they love, even if it is a little different. With Valkyria Revolution being a spin off of the moderately popular Valkyria Chronicles series, will it suffer a similar fate or will it transcend genres and find success?
Valkyria Revolution tells a somewhat familiar story, in an unusual way. The story starts at the gravesite of the five traitors. Despite these five individuals confessing to their crimes and history paints them in a disparaging light, you’re told a story from Richelle, passed down for generations, of what they actually did.
From there, the story jumps to the past and follows the five traitors. Their goal is to exact revenge on the four grand generals and leader of the Ruzi Empire, for a horrible crime they committed in the past. To complete their goal, the five traitors ultimately start a war with the Ruzi Empire, using their various positions and talents to kill those who wronged them.
On paper it sounds like a riveting story and the basic elements are, at times, interesting, though the overall story is not. For starters, there is a lot of cutscenes. You’ll play around one mission, that can be completed in a couple of minutes, per hour or so of dialogue. Since the story is presented in cutscenes, these have to be watched and experienced, unless skipped, meaning reading speed is not a factor.
Even this wouldn’t be so bad if the story moved in a more exciting way. The story tries to round out the heavy tone, filled with death and loss, with light hearted moments and other characters trying to achieve more noble things. Some of these scenes fall flat, some even feel like padding, but it is a nice attempt at losing some tension.
Despite the story falling flat, the gameplay is quite fun. After selecting your team, there are three basic ways to play. The first is your standard action RPG. Every character can attack whenever their character is ready. Anger will make it go faster, where as fear will decrease it. Characters can also freely dodge attacks/bullets, making for a fluid experience.
In addition to the action RPG elements, characters can use weapons and alchemy (magic). Weapons are used by pulling up the action menu and selecting them. Guns can be freely aimed, allowing for more precise actions. This is helpful for headshots, shooting pilots, causing explosions and, depending on your position, hitting multiple targets. There is also a sniper for more precise/long range kills, launchers to blow people up and various types of grenades. Explosive grenades are helpful for groups, especially when enemies first spawn, with others, such as smoke, allowing for more tactical kills or stealth.
Alchemy is essentially magic you can cast to do various things. Typically, these are elemental attacks, though you can summon a healing circle or use songs to buff allies or debuff enemies. They offer a different way to play and in several cases, make bosses much easier.
Finally, for the more tactical players out there, you can command allies to use alchemy or weapons if you rather not do the killing yourself or just want to set them up. Besides direct commands, you can also control their play style and priorities. So if you want a healer, make sure that character prioritizes healing, where as another might be an attacker that goes for kills or peons over larger enemies. Personally, I set up characters to heal, disarm mines and other things I rather not bother with.
Regardless of how nice all these features are; Valkyria Revolution is not difficult enough to justify bothering with a number of mechanics. Even on normal, the highest starting difficulty, characters can take bullets like a bullet sponge and mow down peons with ease. It’s only the bosses, due to high damage, large AoEs and dumb AI, that offer any kind of trouble. But, even then, as long as you know how to damage them, they’re not that much of a threat.
Even though Valkyria Revolution is fun, it isn’t a must play experience. The story starts moving in an exciting direction, with the mysterious grim reaper looking Valkyria and a tale of revenge, only to zig to telling a story that also includes princesses using song magic and anime tropes. This would be fine if the gameplay was common or deep. Sure, the mechanics are there, but if you know you can play it like Dynasty Warriors and be fine, it takes away from the overall experience. Obviously you don’t have to and I encourage everyone to play with the mechanics, Valkyria Revolution is an okay game that might appeal to fans of the series, but overall, you’re not missing much.
[Editor’s Note: Valkyria Revolution was reviewed on PS Vita and PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Valkyria Revolution Review,