Well, veteran developer Media Vision gave it the old college try, but as a set in the past side story to the fan favorite Valkyria Chronicles series, Valkyria Revolution isn’t so thrilling as a game experience. Packed full of overlong exposition, mostly pretty visuals ruined by stiffly animated characters, and somewhat weak gameplay, this one manages to be somewhat lifeless despite trying very hard to appeal to longtime fans and players new to the series.
That said, the music is great, some of the timely political intrigue is interesting enough, as is the main storytelling device of a teacher and student discussing events that happened decades earlier. But the core gameplay never rises above mediocre thanks to somewhat loose controls and a “tactical” side that really doesn’t add much challenge. It’s not a “bad” game per se – it’s just one where you may feel too much time was spent on making a game packed with too much of some stuff and too little of everything else.
There’s no big connection between this game and the Chronicles series save for bits such as Ragnite as an important resource, a bunch of characters with amusingly unpronounceable names (say Amleth Grønkjær five times fast!) and the Euro-centric naming of the locations (Jutland, Ruzhien, etc.) you’ll find your party fighting in. There’s a main plot about five anti-heroes who have motivations of their own for starting a war, but none of the characters are memorable outside their anime/manga stereotype looks. Since the story relies heavily on you sticking it out through the dull stuff, it becomes an exercise in tolerance even if you’re a patient sort.
The over-reliance on the between mission setting up of your growing team plus the draggy exposition and chatty wandering in town makes doing something as simple as buying new gear extremely tedious. While it’s great to have everyone auto-equip new gear, you still need to micromanage items, spells, crafting and other tasks. This wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t need to sit through more slices of storytelling before heading out to another series of battles that unfortunately, play out on repeated versions of the same maps. That and that cafe you drop by to catch up with your teammates reveals a lot of gossipy junk that’s more eyeball-rolling than entertaining.
Combat ends up lackluster thanks to characters practically floating over the battlefields and a distinct lack of feedback on the PS4. Yes, Vita owners are used to the lack of rumble in their games. But on the PS4, the game feels a bit off. There’s a mix of button-mashing and timed strikes plus the ability to pause and select magic or items to use against enemies. You can also switch between characters using this tactical pause, but unless you’re really bad at the game, you can get through many fights using whoever your leader is. That said, some boss battles are more trouble if you’re not prepared, but overall the game isn’t too difficult.
Visually, things are decent enough for a cross-platform title. However, the hand-drawn into cel-art style from the Valkyria Chronicles games was traded in for a more painterly style bursting with color while retaining the canvas-like overlay from the other titles. If only the animation was less janky and those faces moved more during dialog sections. As disappointing as the game is, Sega and Media Vision have packed in a four free DLC packs for those who want to take the plunge. Granted, this content requires you like the game enough to grab the extra stuff. But a game like this will find a niche audience within the niche audience the series has. Black sheep of the series and underappreciated, kind of like Phantasy Star III was back on the Genesis, I guess.
If you’re dialed in, expect close to 40 – 50 hours to get through everything, but your mileage may vary based on how much you tinker with the workshop and crafting elements. There’s a lot of backstory in “hidden” scenes you can discover by poking around that thick book you’re reading from, but it’s optional and yep, only for the most dedicated. Me? I’ve downloaded it all but I haven’t gone back into the game since I completed it. One of these days when the backlog is whittled down a lot, I guess.
Score: C (70%)
Review code provided by the publisher