After three incredible strategic adventures, the Valkyria series finally has an action RPG spin-off. Seeing as switching genres isn't inherently a bad thing, does Revolution provide enough of an enjoyable campaign for series fans?
Valkyria Revolution is an entirely separate game from any of the Valkyria Chronicles titles in both its plot and gameplay. In this war-themed stage-based action RPG spin-off, you'll meet a cast of vibrant and distinct characters right off the bat which leaves a fantastic first impression. The blend of serious, laidback, and lighthearted personalities provides a perfect dynamic for an enjoyable story to unfold. Thankfully, that story is rather engaging and contains many tragic events and unexpected moments (as well as plenty of predictable ones). Not knowing what certain characters' true intentions are is frequently a driving force for suspense and if you're one for watching long cutscenes play out, all of this will be quite an immersive narrative. That being said, those who'd rather just play the game can luckily skip the story sequences whenever they desire but they'll be missing out on one interesting plot.
Unfortunately, Valkyria Revolution doesn't have very good graphics for a current generation game. The blocky character models and mostly bland and repetitive environments leave a lot to be desired. On the other hand, the main town area does look impressive and will end up feeling like home whenever you visit. On the other end of the spectrum, the music is pitch-perfect with an inspiring orchestral score that'll get you in the mood for battle. The sound effects as enemies explode and chaos ensues is ultra-satisfying, too, while the talented voice cast help flesh out the cast of characters wonderfully.
Let's move on to the gameplay. You basically upgrade and customize your party then select a battle to take part in via the command room's map. These battles initially seem like something you'll find in a Dynasty Warriors game but you'll soon realise that there are far less enemies and a lot more complexity. The developers tried to mix stealth, hacking and slashing, a magic / special ability system, strategy, and RPG elements to craft a unique take on combat. However, these battles almost constantly devolve into little more than running around while hacking and slashing and occasionally using the odd ability to take out a crowd of foes. This is unfortunate because the premise is promising yet its execution relies on the player's willingness to utilize its many tacked on features instead of just rushing through battle. Considering doing the latter often results in victory, the gameplay simply doesn't live up to its full potential.
Although the battles certainly aren't as revolutionary as you'd expect, customizing your party can be a rewarding endeavor if you're up for putting some effort into maximizing everyone's potential. You can equip gear that basically acts as your whole party's getup with pieces that you can craft or buy at the workshop to increase certain base stats. Next, acquiring Ragnite allows you to set additional skills for your members which will make them more capable on the battlefield. One aspect that I found cool is that R&D can upgrade all of your weaponry in an easy and intuitive menu. There are a few more areas to keep in mind such as upgrading attributes, modifying battle palettes (which are basically skill loadouts), and customizing tactics per individual. There sure is a lot to do!
All of that being said, I tried doing very little with these systems for an extended period of time and found that I was still winning battle after battle. I'm not saying that Valkyria Revolution is easy. In fact, it has a few various difficulty settings. The problem is that all of these complexities really aren't necessary. Whereas in other RPGs, you'll find yourself setting up your party depending on the circumstances that they'll be in next; all you need to do here is equip the best stuff you can within all of the different systems. This is a lot like the battles themselves where you'll find that merely hacking and slashing will suffice most of the time.
Valkyria Revolution is a noble effort at providing fans with a fresh take on the series but it unfortunately doesn't quite live up to its genre contemporaries. That being said, it may satisfy if you simply want to be immersed in an intriguing tale.
- + Varied cast of likeable characters within a suitably intricate plot
- + Awesome music and great voice acting
- + Comprehensive party customization
- - The gameplay devolves into not much more than a mindless hack and slash
- - Visuals are subpar for current gen
- - Many mechanics seem tacked on