Valkyria Revolution is my second hands-on experience with the Valkyria series. I want to preface the review with this to give clarity to how alienated I felt with this game. Valkyria Revolution failed to capture my attention with subpar characters, a story for which I had no desire to finish and combat that’s a jumbled mix of tactical meets hack and slash. This game should have stayed in the reserves.
Dubbed a spin-off from the other Valkyria titles, Revolution can easily be looked upon as the black sheep. It’s been five years since the last release and with Revolution being the most recent entry, I’m not certain this series should continue at the moment. Normally, I’m pretty open when delving into the occasional video game but Revolution really got under my skin. Perhaps I wanted too much for this game to come out as a good experience and what I came away with disheartened me.
(Don’t) Party Like The 90’s
One of the biggest issues regarding this title would be the constant assault of load screens that plagued my experience. Almost every scene transition was accompanied by one. Normally, this would be acceptable, but when a game from 2017 can have five back-to-back loading screens within the span of a few minutes, it can feel like something from 1997.
What exacerbates these load times are the lengthy cutscenes. Normally, I’d have no problem sitting down and watching a story progress through long scenes when the plot is enjoyable. But there lies the problem; Valkyria Revolution‘s narrative failed to capture my attention. The story is a bore despite a dark premise of a revenge story, dragged down by a mediocre cast of stock characters and boring dialogue.
I won’t explore the entire cast within this review simply because I don’t care enough about them. The English VA dubs are a joke; reminding me of poor English dubs where characters sound like whiny nine -year olds. It got so bad to the point where I needed to switch to Japanese VA. While the cast of villains and side characters wounded me with their lack of spirit, nothing hurts more than not having a main character to connect with. After getting to know Welkin and Alicia from Valkyria Chronicles and that wealthy cast, Revolution just falls flat.
Moody Isn’t Enough
Enter Amleth Grønkjaer, Revolution‘s moody main protagonist, who just can’t garner enough momentum as a character. He has a chip on his shoulder towards The Ruzi Empire for one reason in particular. Besides being a part of the one-track mind category and extremely cynical, Amleth should be perfect for a revenge plot…except he isn’t. The problem with our main character is his lack of character.
He’s uninteresting to the core, never once breaking his moody mold of angst to add any other defined characteristics. Thankfully, the spotlight shines more so on the side characters than Amleth. Even Princess Ophelia, Alicia to her Welkin (Amleth) falls short of being a memorable character
Unlike Chronicles, Revolution takes a much different approach in terms of combat. Blending together tactical and Musou elements. At least, it’s supposed to combine these elements. Revolution turned out to be nothing more than an action RPG where players mash on the X button to win. The occasionally use of mana based skills and items come through when things get rocky. But even that doesn’t happen often enough, since I never touched any of those abilities until about halfway through the game.
A crisis of identify plagues this game: it can’t decide whether to be a Musou, tactics experience, or a blend of these two genres. The tactics part is a stretch because the only element of it is the action gauge. For every action taken, the gauge depletes and players must wait till it’s full again to perform another action. Depending on the morale of Amleth’s squad or the ‘Spoils of War’ gauge, this wait period could be anywhere between five seconds or less than a second. If the squad’s morale is high, players can just swing away without a care in the world. Morale low? That’s when players may want to plan out their steps. Or keep swinging wildly since strategy means very little.
In addition to the heavy lean on melee weapons, ranged weapons and various grenade types have a place on the battlefield during combat. Of course, these take a backseat this turn around and could be considered insignificant to combat; a far cry from previous titles.
Don’t Skimp on The XP
Revolution requires the player to take part in all sorts of optional battles, even though it’s the type of game where the average player would try and speed through story missions. The problem lies with the game’s difficulty spikes, especially near the endgame. Unless the player enjoys cramming hours of grinding into one sitting, free missions are basically mandatory.
Imagine having to begrudgingly repeat the same repetitive mission again and again, finish one story mission and realize the next mission requires more grinding. This is the fate that awaits players curious or brave enough to play Revolution. I’m always up for a challenge but when said challenge requires me to slog through hours of painfully numb operations, that’s when I’ve had enough. Would it have killed Media Vision to add some variety into missions? Not as much as the murder for my excitement towards this title.
Even when tackling optional and story missions combined, Valkyria Revolution can be finished around the 30 hour mark. Personally, nothing about this game felt good to me. The only shining example I could muster is that the premise. The story about five childhood friends seeking revenge against a tyrannical empire will ways get my nod. It’s just a crying shame about how the substandard cast muddles this plot.
I could also state how well the game handles. Yes, thankfully, I never had to worry about button placement or the camera obscuring my vision of combat. So that’s a plus in its own right. But really, there’s nothing worth seeing here.
So is Valkyria Revolution worth a look? My answer is no, not even for the diehard of diehard fans. Perhaps a rental if curiosity levels really cap out but seriously, let this one go. Remember fondly the series of old and let this call to arms go unanswered.