Sega is bringing Valkyria Revolution to the United States after releasing it in Japan a while back and it’s proving to be more than just an action-RPG. The game blends an excellent story and eccentric visuals with turn-based action-RPG combat while including a strategy element. The game does a lot of things correct without drowning its focus in just one area. Featuring multiple playable characters and diverse classes, Valkyria Revolution offers plenty to get enthralled in its lore.
Valkyria Revolution is a story within a story. Surrounding the Liberation War, the plot speaks of five traitors that history pits the blame on, however this is called into question in modern times. Taking place in Europa and loosely being based on the European Revolution, the Liberation War deals with Ragnite, which is the name of the Mana in this universe. Ragnite powers all factories and is the main source of energy in this world. The playable characters stem from the country of Jutland as they fight off invasion with a squad of different people. While these characters are Japanese anime inspired, each one offers enough depth thanks to how the story is presented to actually garner emotions for them. Featuring the young princess of Jutland who wants to have a part of this war, many other character types of typical civilians take part in the story. All of this is happening while the world is filled with supernatural beings known as Valkyria. These beings have wonderful voices as they are portrayed as the grim reaper. The story is surrounded by conspiracies and offers the hook and the detail to want to keep up.
While the story is consuming, the game does start off slow. Developer Media Vision wants to make sure that players know what they are fighting for, so the actual combat is slowly brought along. Valkyria Revolution does not feature an open world, but rather a map with missions that progress the story. Side missions become available for grinding purposes as players receive spoils to put towards character trees. Players can then upgrade different alchemy such as fire, water, wind, and earth, and also also unlock different materials to make customized armor upgrades. The idea is to truly optimize your squad with its different classes. Shocktroopers focus on attacking, Scouts on being mobile, Sappers on support and Shieldbearers on defense. Four characters are playable at once and can be selected during the matches. The leader of the squad can pause the match and give individual orders involving their weapons, rifles or grenades. This allows for the removal of the panic element. While the strategy elements features some micromanaging, it isn’t overkill.
The action is time-based, much like an original JRPG, but is fluent. Choosing an alchemy attack is not done in real-time, but the normal melee is. Each alchemy attack gives a distance meter on how far and who exactly it affects. The meter needs to fill back up after each attack, and that includes melee attacks. There is no button mashing as simply hitting the attack button will pull off the melee. Players can hide behind certain objects to regain health and can hide in grass for sneak attacks. These sneak attacks don’t work great, however, due to the enemy A.I.’s sight. It’s inconsistent and it seems a lot of the grass and items to hide in are not convenient to the enemies. The game doesn’t have any quicktime events, but I found myself mostly diving right in for attacks. When the action is on its game, it’s addicting, but there are some flow issues with it. There are times I can’t select an ally to attack and the timer with the action makes things awkward as players will just stand in front of enemies for a few seconds until one or the other can pull off an attack.
What especially stands out in Valkyria Revolution are the boss fights. These usually involve picking the right matchup while having to stratergize how to lower their shields or expose their weakness. The bosses always have a tie to the story. The areas have few different looks to them, but are often linear with a few branching areas. Loot can be found in boxes along the way, but most missions involve eliminating the same soldiers and their commanders to take hold of a base. The enemy will have special weapons, such as tanks, which will take a bit of skill to take down. Luckily, the squad’s strategy can be changed on the fly to go offense, defense, support or free attack.
While the overall combat is good besides the few flow hiccups, sometimes the A.I. takes the fun out of it. While giving a command, the A.I. may be delayed in its attack. I have also seen the A.I. get stuck behind objects which messes up the feel of the battle. When the A.I. goes down, you will need to revive them on the fly as I haven’t actually seen them use items for assistance. The camera can be a bit of work, as well, as it always faces one direction unless you are locked on an enemy. Hitting the left trigger will refocus the camera to the correct direction, but you will be doing this quite a bit throughout a mission.
The artwork is influenced by a new engine known as Gouache. It illustrates the story and battle in a painterly style as it combines the influence of Japanese anime with a hand-painted design. The player models look fantastic, while the detail of the environment could use a little work. Most of the world is not destructible as most of the environment is pre-rendered. Sandbags can be broken through or vaulted over, but boxes and buildings do not fall apart. The alchemy does look amazing as its vibrant in color and diverse in its actions. The game does look like a modern 1990s JRPG. To put the icing on the cake of this epic world, the soundtrack is amazing, drawing you into the world. The composer for Chrono Trigger, Yasunori Mitsuda, is the producer behind the soundtrack. The voice acting is what you would expect from a dubbed Japanese game, but there were times were audio hiccups would occur in the dialogue. The soundtrack is so over-the-top that it makes up for the hiccups as it brings you into the story and helps complete that 1990s JRPG feel.
Valkyria Revolution might not hit on all cylinders, but there is always a positive aspect to make up for a nagging flaw. Overall, the combat is different and offers many different ways of attack. Coupling the combat and alchemy with an exciting story about war and conspiracy will make you not only want to progress through the game, but actually get into the story and its characters. The artwork behind the graphical engine adds a storybook look to a Japanese anime with characters you’ll develop emotions for. More importantly, the game retails for $39.99 and does more than anyone can ask for at that price, even offering cross-saves between the PS4 and PS Vita versions. Valkyria Revolution is an excellent action-RPG if you’re looking for something new after playing through Final Fantasy XV.