Valkyria Revolution Review
Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PlayStation Vita
Valkyria Revolution brings back the beloved series in a brand new direction from its Valkyria Chronicles predecessors and takes everything we've known mechanically about the series' past and turns it on its head. While hardcore fans of Valkyria Chronicles may be disappointed by this new direction, Revolution does well to stand out and become its own thing. This is a brand new look for the series and introduces some welcoming new elements that freshens it up, but there are also lots about it that feel either backwards or much to be desired.
Though it's not entirely fair to compare Revolution with Chronicles, there are a lot of similar elements that make Valkyria what it is. The historical setting is still there, though instead of a World War II environment, SEGA has opted for more of a European Industrial Revolution setting. Character development is still solid and makes you appreciate having the company of your party in and out of battle, and the story has a heavy narrative with tons of cutscenes, dramatic moments, and dark subjects that are tackled throughout. Playing through the game as mostly Amleth Gronkjaer, you'll sometimes feel your emotions fluctuating, wondering if you're doing the right thing. He's a conflicted person who has virtually no history, almost as if he's suddenly appeared, and during various missions he'll try to find answers, save others, and get revenge all at the same time. While his intentions are good, the lack of ethical approach he tends to take on ops, have his fellow soldiers wondering what he's really up to, and if he's at any point plotting a betrayal. Of course in addition to all of this, Valkyria gets its name from superhumans that have an immense amount of power with their own agendas that may or may not conflict with tasks at hand. In a field of war, everyone must choose a side in Valkyria Revolution, and it's up to you to aid everyone to victory, and fight for what's right.
Valkyria Revolution does away with the Strategy RPG gameplay its Chronicles predecessors were known for and goes into an Action RPG instead. Oddly, however, despite it being an Action RPG, the sets in which you'll fight amid missions still feel like they're laid out like Chronicles was, and it can get a bit bothersome when you have a bunch of trenches and walls to hide behind in your way when you really just want to get up close and slash away. While there's still a tactical feeling behind it - and the game even encourages using these spots to strategize your moves - when everything is happening in real time and you're free to move around and attack at will (except for special moves where a wheel is brought up via the Triangle Button and you can initiate special attacks, showing the area of effect and who it will target), you feel the need to take advantage of this and swing away. It's not fast-paced or as flourished as Warriors games or other hack-and-slash juggernauts like Bayonetta and Darksiders, but still does what it needs to do and fits the overall gameplay and style Valkyria Revolution goes for. It's not flashy, and admittedly can get repetitive and boring on longer missions, but you do feel a sense of teamwork, especially when the player does decide to utilize strategy, but sometimes that can get a bit difficult when enemies are all around you and you're left to your AoE's, assuming you have mana to use. The controls feel a bit clunky at first, and because of this it takes a bit before you're comfortable and truly feel in control of your units and the battlefield.
Throughout your time in Valkyria Revolution you will be guided by Yasunori Mitsuda's masterpiece of a score that hits all the right notes at the perfect time. Mitsuda-san's past work include the likes of Chrono Trigger, the Xeno series, Luminous Arc, Stella Glow, and much more, so he's had a stellar track record that also helps make these games part of what they're known for - the music. Alongside the music, Valkyria Revolution carries with it a simplistic UI that's easy to navigate and grasp, a progression system that flows well, and hub worlds that help give a sense of immersion. You'll find your typical stuff here, like item vendors to help stock up on the equipment you need to make sure your next mission is victorious, though unfortunately these hubs feel slightly empty due to the lack of NPCs.
While the most hardcore of Valkyria Chronicles fans may be a little disappointed and thrown off by the new direction Valkyria Revolution takes with the series, those that do love everything about the world and welcome change will be delighted with the new entry into the series. Valkyria Revolution still has those great characters, awesome settings and story that made everyone love the PS3 and PSP classics, and while the overall management of your teams and units is not as much a centerpiece in this, Valkyria Revolution still offers a ton of fun gameplay and mechanics both new and old that make Revolution stand out. Considering the difference at which Valkyria Revolution takes, it wouldn't be fair to completely compare them, and to simply see Revolution as its own brand new take or spinoff of the universe the Chronicles games gave us many years ago. It wouldn't surprise me to see a Valkyria Revolution 2 rather than a new subtitle, and possibly continued until SEGA feels a need to bring something new to the table again with another new format in a future Valkyria game. Though graphically it leaves much to be desired, those unbothered will still find a nice art direction taken with this. Valkyria Revolution does mostly away with the comic-book style presentation of its Chronicles counterpart, and goes for a more canvas-infused, slightly oil-pastel aesthetic that really makes the scenery vibrant, especially from afar. The score is masterful Yasunori Mitsuda's score lends itself beautifully to Valkyria Revolution, and makes the world come to life even further through his compositions. Valkyria Revolution could have easily been sold for $59.99 given the history Valkyria Chronicles has had before it - as well as a stellar anime - and is instead being sold for $39.99. For that price, it is an absolute steal, and the fact that all copies come standard as the Vanargand Edition - which includes a pin as well a soundtrack of Mitsuda-san's impeccable score - this is a treat to all fans and newcomers to the series looking to get back in to some Valkyria action.
- A fantastic, engaging story with serious topics
- Character development is really nice
- The new canvas and slight oil painting inspired aesthetic fits well
- Good balance of cutscenes and gameplay
- Graphics and animations leave much to be desired
- Has occasional frame drops
- The new light, yet restrained version of a hack and slash for Valkyria Revolution may not be for everyone
A big thank you to SEGA for sending us a review copy of Valkyria Revolution!