Valkyria Revolution Review: Passive Aggression
Kalvin Martinez / Aug 4th, 2017 No Comments
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
tags: review , sega , Valkyria Chronicles , Valkyria Revolution , Valkyria Revolution review