Note – We were provided a review code for Valkyria Revolution in exchange for our fair review.
Years ago I remember wasting away countless hours on the battlefields of Valkyria Chronicles. A hit strategy-RPG made for the Playstation 3, it featured a highly engaging and thoroughly strategic combat system, a riveting and complex plot, endearing and relatable characters, and fantastic graphics. Since that time, additional Valkyria titles have been made, but kept securely within the borders of Japan. This background is likely why people were so excited when they heard that Valkyria Revolution was going to make its way stateside. Unfortunately for us, the most recent installment of this franchise is nothing short of a jumbled mess.
Valkyria Revolution serves as a prequel of sorts, set 100 years before the events of Valkyria Chronicles. After being forced into a corner by an economic blockade, the relatively small country of Jutland strikes out against its imperial oppressors and put an end to the war that has claimed so many of their friends and loved ones. Central to this story is the elite force “Vanargand” – soldiers who possess unique weapons that enable them to take down hulking mechs and tanks. Using this small and agile force, Jutland hopes to quickly capture key strategic points, while a mysterious force known as the “Five Traitors” stoke the peoples’ anger in order to encourage a wide-scale revolt against the Empire.
Chances are you will have no problem picking up on the general plotline, because Valkyria Revolution has no problem explaining every last detail in very long, drawn out cutscenes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of world-building and I think that it’s important to understand what’s going on in the game, but while Chronicles deftly balanced combat with plot, Revolution swings wildly in the other direction – subjecting players to drawn out scenes that have them reaching for the “Skip” button. Make no mistake – if these scenes were a bit more dynamic, or pulled the curtain back on a more vivid and unique world, this could probably be overlooked. Instead, we’re bombarded with a wave of cliché villains, tragic heroes and constant (no-brainer) theme of “War is bad.”
Overall the story is incredibly flat and predictable, and fails to deliver the emotional gut-punch of a war-torn country valiantly fighting against its fate.
While Chronicles had action bars that determined movement and actions, as well as the ability to stay still, conserve energy, or execute advanced tactics, Revolution largely discards most of these elements. Instead, you control your character in a free-form movement on the battlefield, the main limitations being how many times you can press X to swing your weapon before your action gauge is depleted and you have to wait a few moments for it to reset. They tossed in a couple other attacks as well, including grenades, rifles and some spellcasting abilities, but these are largely for show; mainly serving to add the illusion of complexity to a thoroughly one-dimensional combat system.
Of all the ways that Valkyria Revolution disappointed me, this is probably the most egregious. If you’re a fan of the original game, you will find very little resemblance in Revolution’s gameplay.
With an achingly flat and predictable story and its gameplay being a one-note train wreck, you would hope that your eyes could take a break by enjoying some decent aesthetics. Unfortunately, even the graphics provide no relief. Character models are flat and unemotional, largely looking like poorly constructed mannequins. The environments are constructed well enough, but the character models are often taking center stage in the terribly long cut-scenes that occur throughout, so their quality (or lack thereof) is hard to overlook.
I’m just so bummed, to be honest. I love me a good strategy RPG (Grand Kingdom, for example, was a blast) and was hoping to see the Valkyria franchise return in all of its glory. Instead, we get a hollow shell of what was a fantastic game. Clinging to only the barely identifiable vestiges of decent gameplay elements and adding the illusion of complexity with poorly executed additional actions and no real tactics. A story that feels like a dull and monotonous ache that is told through cut scenes that are entirely too long, and with characters that are extremely one dimensional and cliché in terms of personality and development. Unfortunate.
Mithical Rating Gameplay Story Graphics Music/Voice Acting Replayability