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Valkyria Revolution Review: Passive Aggression

/ Aug 4th, 2017 No Comments

Valkyria Revolution Review

It is an unenviable position to sell a hard shift. That’s where Sega found itself with Valkyria Revolution. While it shares some similarities to the beloved Valkyria Chronicles series, it is a new genre and a different take on the subject matter and world.

Valkyria Revolution feels like it is well aware of people’s perceptions of what a Valkyria game should be, and is self-conscious about not being what people expect. As a result, it spends an inordinate amount of time trying to distinguish itself from its pedigree to the detriment of the game itself.

Sit Back and Watch

To parse out Valkyria Revolution’s story, it is important to get the context. Set after the “Azure Revolution,” when Europa fought over the rare and powerful material Ragnite, the Age of Imperalism transformed the country. Over the years, the Ruzi Empire conquered much of Europa. In the Kingdom of Jutland, five citizens grew tired of Ruzi oppression and sought to start the Liberation War.

The key to Jutland’s success in the Liberation War is Amleth Gronkjaer and the Anti-Valkyria Squad. The unit not only is outfitted with weaponry meant to take down the Ruzi Empire’s powerful secret weapon, but also has Princess Ophelia, Jutland royalty, on their side. As you try to create momentum for Jutland with the Anti-Valkyria Squad, you’ll witness the truth behind the Liberation War.
 

Valkyria Revolution Review

Learning the real reason behind the Liberation War is the framing device for Valkyria Revolution.

While the context is important, Valkyria Revolution gets lost in too much context. Exposition occurs consistently between missions, and there are hours of cutscenes compared to minutes of gameplay. Players wait through cutscenes that showcase different perspectives and create a complex picture of the war only to feel bored because all you want to do is kill some soldiers.
 

Valkyria Revolution Review

The story does no justice to a plucky cast of characters.

It is a shame because the idea of revealing the truth behind a war is a good angle, as is the plucky elite unit of soldiers with big personalities, but neither come together in a meaningful way to keep you invested in the story. The attempts at character work fail as you’re being beaten over the head with plot and exposition, and the intriguing premise doesn’t work because the storytelling feels clunky and antiquated.

Fancy Artillery

What is immediately clear when you finally get to play a mission in Valkyria Revolution is it is much more action oriented than previous games in the franchise and it features more hack-n-slash. To cut to the chase, it is a musou game with some cool twists like tactical moments and a four-unit squad.

Mission objectives vary based on the story concerns, but mostly require you to take out a bunch of low-level soldiers and their ranking officers. Sometimes it is to capture bases, and other times it is to set off some bombs, but regardless of the conceit, you’re mowing down a ton of enemies.
 

Valkyria Revolution Review

While you’ll face down a lot of scrubs, you’ll also fight some cool bosses.

To aid in your effective killing of Ruzi soliders, each Anti-Valkyria Squad member has a fancy and usually giant, anime-looking Anti-Valkyria weapon. Some are more austere, like Princess Ophelia’s rapier, and some make Cloud’s Buster Sword look quaint.

The different types of weaponry encourage different playstyles and class types, with some better suited for the various enemies you’ll encounter. Playing around with the class types to discover which ones work best for your playstyle and mission constraints is part of what makes Valkyria Revolution fun.
 

Valkyria Revolution Review

Tough guy bravado is the soup of the day.

While missions usually revolve around hacking and slashing, there are some cool tactical aspects to the game. Each Squad member gets a Battle Palette, which gives them access to spells and secondary weapons. Battle Palettes can be customized to how you want to play.

Spells are gamechangers when used properly. They can help clear out a swarm of enemies or deal heavy damage to tough bosses. Secondary weapons function like the weapons from Valkyria Chronicles with similar upgrade paths at Sabancci & Co., which is a nice nod to the series. They also allow for good precision kills when attempting to get the leg up on enemies before engaging a full unit.

The gameplay is simple in many respects, but there are some added touches that take from the main Valkyria Chronicles series, including utilizing soldiers’ emotions in battle. There are hidden complexities in gameplay, but they are difficult to enjoy due to the game’s rough storytelling.

Overall

Valkyria Revolution is not a bad game, but it feels confused in many ways. The storytelling is its weakest point. What could have been a cool angle is bogged down in exposition and crammed in cutscenes. Its gameplay is an intriguing blend of tactical and musou, leading to a compelling experience mired in passive storytelling.

Even for hardcore Valkyria fans, it may be hard to overlook the game’s obvious shortcomings.

Valkyria Revolution was reviewed on PlayStation 4 with a code provided by the publisher.
 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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VALKYRIA REVOLUTION REVIEW: PASSIVE AGGRESSION

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall56%

GAMEPLAY8.5

The great shame of Valkyria Revolution is that the gameplay is pretty good. While it isn’t the strategy/RPG formula that made Valkyria Chronicles such a gem, it does utilize many elements of the series to create a cool riff on the musou genre.

GRAPHICS8

Valkyria Revolution looks good, but some of the character design is bizarre. The overtly anime faces can be a bit off putting and don’t allow for a proper expression of emotion.

SOUND

The music and voice acting are both solid, but each has its own annoying hiccups that prevent you from falling in love with either.

STORY6

Valkyria Revolution tries extremely hard to distinguish itself from the game it shares its namesake with, but in trying to establish its own history, world, and story it spreads itself thin. The main issue is in trying to be its own original thing it does too much heavy lifting with exposition, framing devices, and character work at the detriment of all these elements. It spends so much time setting things up that you’re consistently watching cut scenes unfold before you get into any sort of actual gameplay. It feels both like antiquated storytelling and a betrayal of what made the Valkyria series compelling.

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