Valkyria Revolution (Xbox One) Review

By Gabriel Jones 14.07.2017 2

Review for Valkyria Revolution on Xbox One

For Princess Ophelia and the people of Jutland, war was the path to liberation. However, Amleth cared only for revenge. To him, war was just a means to an end. As the leader of Vanargand, the anti-Valkyria squad, he'll face the full brunt of the almighty Ruzi Empire. Kingdoms collapse and countless lives are lost, yet all is in accordance with the will of Amleth and the Traitors. Who are these five individuals, and why did they plunge Europa into chaos? Now it's time for the true story to be told.

Valkyria Revolution's storyline plays itself up as a Shakespearean tragedy, but…well, there is no point even trying to be clever here. It's a mess. The few nuggets of smart characterization or thrilling story are buried under hours of meandering nonsense. The cast is a collection of clichés that spout pretentious platitudes. The cut-scenes are frequent, unnecessary, and poorly directed. Loading screens are interspersed throughout, adding to the misery. Even something as simple and dumb as a joke about a woman's measurements takes several cut-scenes to play out. I don't try to be nostalgic for games of the past, but at least they're able to get to the point.

Much like any sport, videogames are defined by their rules. The functionality of digital entertainment is tied to strict conditions for both success and failure. Some genres, such as open-world, play it fairly loose. After all, they're designed to allow players to do anything they want. Still, freedom is not absolute. Nobody is allowed to simply fly everywhere, and defeat all of their enemies with the flick of a wrist. What make videogames compelling are the limitations. Without them, gamers might as well be playing "Calvinball." Was the score Q to 12, or was it oogy to boogy? It doesn't make a difference either way.

Screenshot for Valkyria Revolution on Xbox One

Valkyria Revolution is a game that never takes the time to establish the rules. On the battlefield, the player performs actions not out of necessity, but merely because it gives them something to do. The bulk of their play time could be spent pressing the attack button every 3-8 seconds. If they want variety, they can use a sub-weapon, or cast a spell. In any case, the enemies are hopelessly outmatched. The moments where the player actually has to deal with consequences are so rare, they're almost inexplicable. Suddenly, everything someone does actually matters. They have to understand and act on the game's mechanics, or else they'll fail. Like a unicorn in a slaughterhouse, these moments of wonder and brilliance don't last long at all.

Battles are governed by what is essentially a morale bar. Actions that favour Amleth and the rest of the anti-Valkyria squad cause the bar to turn blue. Negative status effects, enemy reinforcements, and other problematic conditions will turn the bar red. Morale determines how quickly the party will act. When it's maxed out, the squad's mere presence will be enough to cause enemies to panic. It's a neat idea, but it doesn't really work. All too often, momentum will swing the player's way. With as little effort as it takes to occasionally press a button, they'll dominate 99% of battles. In some cases, it doesn't even make sense. During one battle, Ophelia got separated from the rest of the squad. She fell off of a cliff, and was then ambushed. Since morale was on her side, the enemy soldiers, the very same that ambushed her, immediately lost all composure.

To draw a comparison, let's consider Valkyria Chronicles. Even in the earliest missions, the difference between a good and a bad decision is very clear. If a scout runs towards two machine gunners, they're going to get cut down. The repercussions of an action are always felt, usually as soon as the enemy takes their turn. Due to the conditions at play, every decision has to be weighed. All of the pros and cons must be accounted for.

Screenshot for Valkyria Revolution on Xbox One

Since Valkyria Revolution is a strategy RPG where everything occurs in real-time, the difference between a good and a bad decision becomes much more nebulous. The player always has the freedom to run away from a bad situation, or perform constant somersaults to dodge everything. Furthermore, Amleth's squad, which is usually limited to four combatants, is able to take quite a lot of punishment. If all that wasn't enough, healing spells can bring someone from near-death to brand-new in seconds. In the face of so much unparalleled power, there's not much that the game can do to retain a sense of balance.

In a last ditch effort to keep players invested, the developer went with the nuclear option: one-hit KOs. There are a number of instances where it's entirely possible for party members to go from full health to dying, in as little as one attack. This usually happens when dealing with enraged enemy soldiers, particularly those that wield axes. The small handful of bosses has this same capability. It's not uncommon for multiple heroes to meet a quick end, leaving the player scrambling to pick up the pieces. Although reviving a party-member is as easy as running up to them and pressing a button, one has to wonder why threats are an all or nothing proposition. Whatever happened to the slow but steady depletion of resources? A player is less likely to make bad decisions, if they can't immediately recover from them.

Then there's the Valkyria. This silver-haired harbinger of death doesn't make very many appearances. Most of the time, her role is similar to Baron von Blubba's. Like the undead whale from Bubble Bobble, the Valkyria shows up to deliver a severe whipping if the player takes too long to finish a mission. The fights with her are suitably epic and even fun. It's a shame that her questionable design is hard to overlook. Why is it that the titular character in these games always looks like they're smuggling large fruits? Is there a lore reason for that? Never mind.

Screenshot for Valkyria Revolution on Xbox One

The other interesting aspects of the game lie in party building. Over the course of each mission, players will come across numerous ragnites, which function as spells or techniques. Outfitting squad-members with high-level ragnite, and displaying this newfound prowess on the field, is pretty entertaining. Useless stones can be melted down to upgrade weapons. It's also possible to design apparel, though the decent stat boosts require a substantial effort.

When they're not progressing through the story, players can and should engage in free missions. The war effort involves defending and conquering as much territory as possible. However, this process tends to be more trouble than it's worth. The experience and ragnite gains are invaluable, but it quickly becomes too difficult to control territory. More often than not, Jutland is going to be on the defensive. Vanargand can only engage in one mission at a time, while the forces of the Ruzi Empire are able to invade multiple territories at once. Losing every land won't lead to a game over, but it will affect what items are sold in shops. This is one of those features that are half-baked, much like everything else in the game.

The most frustrating aspects of this title won't become apparent until towards the end. The final encounters, with their penchant for party-wiping attacks, take centre stage. Since the player has spent 30+ hours mired in mindless battles, they're ill-equipped to deal with foes that require a sliver of tactics. Frustration immediately sets in due to missions that can take thirty or more minutes to complete. All it takes is a single special attack, or a short string of bad luck, and so much progress disappears into the ether. For what it's worth, there are difficulty settings. If someone is at all worried about potential headaches, they can choose the easy setting, which allows them to focus entirely on the story. On second thought, that's not a great idea either, as they'd be guaranteed a migraine.

Screenshot for Valkyria Revolution on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

All told, Valkyria Revolution isn't a complete disaster. Every now and then, it manages to hoist itself out of the loathsome depths, and deliver an adequate strategy RPG. The ragnites and other abilities are fun to play around with. There is also a small level of satisfaction in crushing hapless soldiers. Still, outside of very specific circumstances, this title demands absolutely nothing from its players, so it's unlikely to hold their attention for long. The intriguing plot is completely wasted by a combination of bad storytelling, laughable cut-scenes, and exorbitant loading screens. All in all, it's a shameful affair.

Developer

MediaVision

Publisher

Deep Silver

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

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

I bought this game hoping it would be different but man...the cut scenes are just WAY TOO LONG.  I'm not one to complain either.  Also, why was a fairly realistic game converted to some crazy kingdom hearts game where a guy with a sword is beating down endless machine guns?

And I thought I was harsh, haha. 

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