Sometimes games stick with a formula for way too long. Even though it’s a great game, Pokemon is a huge offender of this. Between the sequels and updates, the same basic concepts are repeated, up to and including Sun/Moon, though that title has made some progress towards new ideas. The same holds true for games made by Compile Heart. While their latest series, Dark Rose Valkyrie looks familiar, it shows signs of stepping out of their comfort zone. With a new setting, badass girls, a mysterious illness and familiar mechanics, is Dark Rose Valkyrie the next Neptunia or is it another Mugen Souls?
Dark Rose Valkyrie starts with a rather grim premise. A mysterious disease has affected most of the population, turning them into savage beasts. To counter this threat, the military has created special fighters to stop them and try to find a cure. It’s a simple story that, if nothing else, gives a reason for the predominately female cast and such.
Since this nation is isolated, they weren’t impacted as bad, allowing them to mount an offensive. In addition to that, infection is more common for males than females, so women are more common on the battlefield than men. It also has some nice touches, but Dark Rose Valkyrie takes a page from Neptunia, with the story being more about character interactions than anything else.
Characters follow the standard archetypes. There is the cute girl, headstrong guy, yes there are some male characters in this game, shy girl and so forth. Your enjoyment will depend on how much you enjoy stock characters. Sure, they have personalities and details besides being shy, but they mostly exist to fulfil one role or another.
Combat also takes a number of pages from Neptunia. The average level is a small world you can explore, with treasure and monsters spread throughout. Attacking them will give you first hit and missing/getting hit from behind will result in an ambush. However, the average fight is a little more complicated than Neptunia.
The way fights work is simple to understand, but can be hard to master. Every character has three basic attacks, some additional magic attacks and a rush. Depending on the monster/situation, certain attacks will be better than others. Every character will attack based off their location on a line. After locking in an attack, there are multiple points where your characters will attack, with the timing changed based off the attack you select. So if you use a level one attack, you’ll attack sooner than a level three attack.
In addition to this, being attacked stops your ascent on the line. So if monster A is about to attack, if you plan to have character A attack, it will stop them and if character B also attacks, you might be able to defeat the monster before it has a chance to attack. It’s a neat system, but one you can ignore.
For those just looking to experience the story or walk away, you can also set your character to auto-attack. The AI doesn’t make the best choices, at least in my opinion, but it is better than nothing. There are also settings to change whether or not they use items, how they play and so forth.
The time of day also impacts the power of enemies. Nighttime will have unique and more powerful enemies, with daytime having weaker ones. Utilizing this feature is a must for anyone looking to experience everything Dark Rose Valkyrie has to offer or farm for resources.
Dark Rose Valkyrie is more than a paint-by-numbers Compile Heart game, but not by much. The story relies on established tropes and situations that fans have seen dozens of other times. Thankfully the combat is a little more fun than the standard game, though it’s also easy enough where there is literal autopilot. Despite this, fans of the standard beats will have a delightful time messing with the shy girl or saving the world. Not to mention the combat system, if you so choose to control it, is quite a bit of fun. That being said, if you’re looking for something more memorable, this isn’t it.
[Editor’s Note: Dark Rose Valkyrie was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]