QCF: Valkyeria Revolution

ven after nearly 10 years since its initial release on the PlayStation 3, the impact of SEGA’s Valkyeria Chronicles still resonates throughout the tactical RPG scene to this very day, continuing to be sold on Steam after the windows version hit the store recently.

Since then though, the property’s transition into a full-fledged series has only propelled it further into niche territory, with two direct sequels releasing exclusively to Sony’s struggling handheld at the time, the PSP, and the other not even making it out of Japan. Hell, there was even some bunk-ass mobile game that didn’t last for more than two years before it was kicked off the market, and servers shut down—Valkyeria’s true claim to fame still bellied onto the original in the states.

Shooting for the chance that lightning will strike twice, as SEGA brings on Media.Vision, the same developers responsible for the Wild Arms and Chaos Rings series to create Valkyeria Revolution; a spin-off sequel to the franchise that’s available on both console, and portable.

While the premise in this venture certainly is interesting, Valkyeria Revolution seems to have left behind most of the qualities that made the Valkyeria experience so charming and likable in the first place.

It’s no secret that visuals aren’t everything in a game, but it’s certainly a different story when it comes to presentation, and VR dropped the ball here harder than anywhere else.

A lot of the initial title’s appeal derived from the artistic liberties taken to make it seem as though the story was being active drawn to life on parchment in the composition of a serialized manga from the 90’s. Complete with visual Onomatopoeia effects and Cel-shaded models that were colored with these graphite-heavy textures, within a variety of settings that’re painted through a cross-hatched gradation and the warmest of color palettes, Valkyeria Chronicles really captured the spirit of the style it wanted to convey.

And yet, in the strangest of twists, this new entry to the series forgoes all of that, and opts for a more, “basic” look instead. Don’t get me wrong, graphically, Valkyeria Revolution is beautiful, with highly detailed environments and characters to ogle at, but on that same token, the visuals just seem like they’re incomplete in comparison to the benchmark that was set before it with the original. All of the gorgeous, granular effects that created that atmosphere are now scaled back into the occasional subtle filter or two, making the game look like white bread in contrast to the previous entries.

Aside from that, the impression seems to compose the overall theme of this outing; serviceable, but nothing extraordinarily memorable either.

In yet another bizarre adjustment to the formula that came before it, the trademark strategical combat of the franchise has now taken a bit of a backseat to a more action-heavy approach with the gameplay instead. Aside from the cool down time for attacking, and the various menus you’ll navigate to determine formations or equipment load-outs, the combat of Valkyeria Revolution closer resembles the Musou games than it does an RPG. Not to say that Media.Vision completely omitted the tactical warfare, as there are some subtle strategy elements peppered in, but it’s all for naught as the flow here isn’t all that different whether you plan your strikes accordingly or swing wildly.

There are a few dynamics that stand out like being able to cycle control between your various party members, or creating passive perks based on specific characters that you have recruited through the different bonds they could share from either their soldier class or narrative connection, but they really don’t play all that large of a role. The story campaign never does much to incentivize the importance of using social circle buffs because of the unbalanced pace and relatively easy difficulty curve in combat.

Valkyeria Revolution doesn’t bungle all of its expectations though as it does manage to deliver an incredibly engaging narrative, rich with an exposition on the world and people that its plot takes place in. As cliché as flashback storytelling can be, it’s used effectively here to build tension for the main cast’s character development, and the details surrounding their supposed betrayal that granted them the label of “traitor.”

Granted, there are some points where the exposition does interfere with the flow of the game as a cut scene will suddenly fade in for the next five or so odd minutes before you can hack away at enemy soldiers again, but never to the point where the interruptions were obnoxious. Considering that the gameplay can be bland at times, the bits of story cutting in from time to time were effective palate cleansers to the monotony of the gameplay, and are honestly a welcome change of pace when the plot starts to get some juicy development in.

Valkyeria Revolution is by no means a bad game, but it’s certainly a far cry from everything that made the Valkyeria name so special in the first place. The game’s lite-RPG mechanics may be inoffensive, but they ultimately betray all the qualities that defined the experience that the property excellently delivered before. If you’re a fan of the franchises universe, or you’re just looking for an engaging fantasy to get lost in with a rich world, and compelling war themes then Valkyeria Revolution may just before you; just don’t expect much else out of it, because it’s pretty bland otherwise.

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