Valkyria Revolution (PlayStation 4) Review

By Renan Fontes 27.06.2017 4

Review for Valkyria Revolution on PlayStation 4

While not as popular as SEGA would like it to be, the Valkyria franchise has garnered a passionate fan base over the years. Valkyria Chronicles I and II were both well received in the West, and the Japan exclusive III still had a fair amount of coverage despite its lack of localisation. After III's release, however, the series lay dormant for over half a decade. The trilogy was complete and Europa was put to rest, Valkyries and all. Until now. Abandoning the strategy elements that captivated so many fans, Valkyria has returned in the form of an action RPG to try to rekindle that fire that once burned so bright.

Valkyria Revolution's plot is one of fighting imperialism. A small country, Jutland, has been blockaded by a large and ruthless empire, Ruzhien. As a result, rebels fight to take back their home and gain true independence. It's a story rooted in history that lends itself to drama, but it's crippled by poor framing.

Narrators aren't a new concept to the series. Valkyria Chronicles was narrated through Irene Ellet's in-series book, "On the Gallian Front." Where the narration served to help Chronicles feel like a real historical account, the narration present in Revolution only serves to undermine the narrative.

Richer Laudrup's narration adds nothing to the plot. Removing her would actually benefit the plot, as it would let the main cast's actions speak for themselves and develop naturally. Knowing that the protagonist will eventually be labelled a traitor is an interesting idea that adds tension, but it doesn't work for this story.

Screenshot for Valkyria Revolution on PlayStation 4

It's not so much that the plot wouldn't allow for a development like this to be announced immediately, but rather the writing's inability to use its time properly. Important scenes where the lead, Amleth, interacts with his foes are oftentimes too brief, whereas his interactions with his allies go on too long for their own good.

Dialogue is one of the best ways to flesh out personalities and relationships, but Valkyria Revolution spends so much time talking while saying very little. Cutscenes fall on the longer side of the spectrum, with characters discussing the happenings of the Jutland rebellion, and yet they never seem to break out of their key trait. Brigette is a stern teacher, Issak is a narcissistic lecher, and Sara is a wacky character with no regard for professionalism.

Out of the whole cast, Amleth and his co-lead, Ophelia, fare best. Because of Amleth's role as a traitor, he's often seen hiding his true nature from his teammates, adding some nuance and depth to his character. Ophelia has a clear, if a bit tired, arc where she grows from a sheltered princess into someone who has experienced the hardships of war.

The protagonists are likable enough where they can carry their scenes well enough, but when the focus shifts to anyone else, a clear issue with the storytelling starts to rear its head. The cinematography is ferociously dull.

Screenshot for Valkyria Revolution on PlayStation 4

A lot of the time spent in Revolution is spent in cutscenes, but their framing and directing is surprisingly plain. Characters stand around with little notion for economy of movement, the camera either pans too slowly in or not at all, and scenes are lit with no real regard for time or place.

There are moments where the story manages to capture something brilliant. Amleth's confrontation with Balthus at the end of the prologue demonstrates everything the story could have been. Both characters verbally spar, as Amleth holds the upper hand over a foe that cannot even register what he's done to earn his ire. The camera is angled to better convey the tension of the scene, and both characters are placed in aesthetically pleasing ways that keep a viewer engaged. Scenes like this don't happen nearly enough, but they prove that there is something worthwhile underneath the warts.

The gameplay fares similarly, unfortunately. Instead of using the turn-based-real-time strategy hybrid the Valkyria Chronicles trilogy utilised, combat is instead more in line with something like Dynasty Warriors. Amleth roams an open field in a party of four, where he can roll, guard, and attack in real time. He does have a stamina meter of sorts, but it restores just about as soon as his chain of attacks end, rendering it rather pointless.

Screenshot for Valkyria Revolution on PlayStation 4

An element of strategy has been kept in by designating skills, guns, and grenades to a special menu, but all it really does is pause the action so Amleth can dish out some extra damage. Enemies are braindead and light hitters as is, so using a skill is more about chipping away a boss' health bar than trying to survive any means possible.

On the subject of survivability, permadeath makes a comeback, although is nowhere near as punishing as it originally was. If a character were to die in battle, which they are very unlikely to do, Amleth can revive them within a minute. If they die, Amleth is given the option to reset the minute. Actually letting a character die takes effort, and doing so doesn't have much payoff. Most characters are a part of the story, so they can't actually permanently die.

As poor as the execution is, the concept of an action RPG-themed Valkyria title is far from a bad one. It can be fun mowing down enemies, as Amleth and the skill system does, theoretically, maintain a level of strategy that would have otherwise been lost. It's just that Amleth effectively being a one-man army hinders the rebel angle and is simply boring.

With no real level of challenge found in the combat, and the writing's sporadic quality, Valkyria Revolution ends up falling short as a successor to the Chronicles trilogy. During its few moments of brilliance, Revolution tells a tale of war, revenge, and the horrors of imperialism without holding anything back - but at its worst, it's little more than a thoughtless hack and slash overflowing with clichés and generic storytelling.

Screenshot for Valkyria Revolution on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Valkyria Revolution has the confidence of a much better game. The story is presented in a historical lense meant to pull at the player's heartstrings, the gameplay combines action RPG elements with strategy features, and the cast is depicted so as to highlight the realities of war. While that all looks nice in concept, Media Vision's execution is seriously lacking. The plot simultaneously needs to let scenes breathe more, instead of dragging them out for minutes on end. What should be thought-provoking combat turns into mindless button mashing. The depiction of war, as poignant as it can be sometimes, never manages to hold onto its brilliance for longer than a minute. There are genuinely great ideas present, both from its narrative and gameplay, but Valkyria Revolution fails to live up to the potential of either.

Developer

MediaVision

Publisher

Deep Silver

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Interesting character... development O.o

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

so disappointing.

this shouldve been classic.
 

Look cool, already bought it so will try anyway.

Ofisil said:
Interesting character... development O.o

That is definitely some plot.

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