Thanks to SEGA for the review code
Title: Valkyria Revolution
System: Playstation 4
Release Date: 06/27/2017
In the region of Jutland, a student expresses interest in learning about an old war between Jutland and the Ruzhien empire, and his teacher decides to give him a hand by telling the story of The Five Traitors, passed down from a relative who lived during that time period. This means that pretty much every major event is told in the form of a flashback, with the present time only coming back into play every now and then when the game decides to interrupt the story and bring you back to that menu, or if you decide to revisit previous cutscenes and battles.
Speaking of which, there are a ton of cutscenes here, and not just the kind that you can progress at your own pace, as they are full-blown cinematic cutscenes that can take a really long time to finish, and in most cases I found that they weren’t even worth the wait to watch. Just in the prologue chapter alone, it took a good 45 minutes without skipping any of the cutscenes before I was given my first save opportunity, and that was after a basic tutorial mission and boss battle, too! It was at that point where I decided that it was simply better to skip every non-major cutscene that the story threw at me, and I found that doing that led to me missing out on very little, and if I did miss something, I could just go back and rewatch a specific scene of my choice in the chapter select.
When it comes to the visuals, there really isn’t much to comment on, as the game uses a pretty standard 3D artstyle that I’ve seen in many other RPGs by now, and the menus work fine and are easy to navigate. The major part of the presentation that must be noted, comes from the composer of the soundtrack, who is none other than Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger fame. This point was often mentioned in a lot of the PR releases I got from SEGA, so it was clear that the publisher thought this was a big deal. Unfortunately, despite Mitsuda’s impressive resume, I didn’t really consider that many of the songs to be memorable, with the only one sticking out to me in the time I spent being the boss theme, but even that didn’t stick in my head as much as her other songs.
Valkyria Revolution’s gameplay might seem similar to Valkyria Chronicles at first glance, but when the game’s in action you’ll see how that’s not really the case, as Revolution feels more like a fast-paced action RPG due to the lack of turn-based combat. There’s no longer the need to move units in a certain range or to place them strategically, as now you can just move around freely with your AI-controlled teammates and attack the enemy up close and personal, with the cooldown coming from a “READY” command that pops up a few seconds after you perform a move, to prevent you from simply mashing X to win.
Unfortunately, despite this cooldown, mashing X does end up helping a lot more than strategically planning out moves, since attacking enemies by surprise (such as by sneaking up behind them) will do more damage than normal, so a well-timed attack can lead to you taking out lots of enemies with little resistance. It almost feels a bit like a Warriors game at points due to the repetitive nature, but nowhere near as challenging or addicting, with the only normal enemies that give you trouble being the walker enemies that require you take our their legs in order to expose their weak points.
By far, the best part of the action is when a boss comes into play, as then you’ll be forced to use actual strategies to take them out, since mashing X on them will simply lead to them counterattacking you and your attack barely doing anything. Similar to normal enemies, attacking some of the bosses from behind will do a lot of damage, and memorizing their attack patterns to dodge their special moves is key to survival. However, considering how basic these battles are, (it separates you from the rest of the arena, meaning that in most cases it’s just you and the boss, and maybe a few grunts to go with it) even the boss battles start to drag after a while.
With all that said, however the cutscenes I mentioned early on are a big part of the game. Sometimes after you go around town or progress the story, you’re yanked back to the menu with the teacher and student with no explanation, and you have to talk to her again to resume progress. It doesn’t take nearly as long as the cutscenes themselves (I already went off on how boring and tedious they can get), but the fact that this seemingly happens whenever the game’s story feels like it made me rather confused at times, especially when the main thing I wanted to do was to get back to the fast-paced gameplay.
In conclusion, Valkyria Revolution is a pretty boring experience, but it does have some good ideas. The fast-paced battle system was easier for me to get into than the one from Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, the equipment ordering system was a fun way to experiment with different combinations of items, and the skill tree can lead to creating some powerful skills. However, even with all these fun features, I found the main story rather boring, with most of the cutscenes feeling like generic filler, which led to the teacher-student interaction to be the most interesting aspect of the story for me.
Yes, you can just skip through every cutscene using the right trigger, and probably won’t miss out on too much unless you skip a cutscene right after a boss battle, but for a story-based game to be so heavy on story while lacking anything motivating enough to engage the player, it just feels like a big drag, especially when compared to the main series that came before Revolution. Still, if you can tolerate all this, you’ll get a decent action RPG at a quicker pace, just nothing mind-blowing or gripping. I give Valkyria Revolution a 6 out of 10, and can really only recommend it to die-hard Valkyria fans who don’t mind the excess of filler cutscenes, or to people who want an RPG that’s easier to play than Valkyria Chronicles. (which is also a great game, and the one I honestly prefer of these two, but just slightly.)