Valkyria Revolution is the next entry of SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles series that poorly delivers new changes to the series’ tactical gameplay and storytelling. The game is a follow-up to SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles 2 on the PlayStation Portable, but there is very little connection to that or previous games in the series outside of a few similar gameplay elements and character designs. While there is a grand story about warring nations and a group of heroes coming of age, it’s all muddied up by lackluster pacing and overabundance of dull tropes. But the biggest disappointment is the game’s unwillingness to commit to one gameplay style over another, rather than poorly deliver on all fronts.
The story may have been one of the better aspects in previous Valkyria Chronicles games, but Revolution is the dullest yet. Not only are so many characters and events thrown at you within a short time frame, but the constant jumping between characters and inane filler will lose your interest pretty quickly. I found myself skipping over long, drawn-out cutscenes that lingered for way too long without moving on to the next big event.
There’s a lot of filler between some of the game’s larger events, which can get very annoying when things aren’t going anywhere for a long time. Besides the overly complicated names of more than 10 different characters you meet in the game’s story, many of them have flat personalities that just aren’t interesting. I spent a lot of time with these characters, but never felt like I enjoyed being with them.
What is very confusing, and very disappointing, is the presentation of cutscenes. There’s a filter that is constantly on screen during the game, however it gets cut off near the edge of the screen. It makes everything look like a stylized canvas painting aesthetic, similarly to all the previous Valkyria Chronicles games, but the border of the filter is always noticeable and can be distracting when colors change on screen.
What’s worse is the frequent load times between cuts within a given scene. Instead of playing a story cutscene from start to finish, the game will reload scenes at different points with just a different camera angle and continuation of the scene. It makes some story sections feel longer than they actually are, but really becomes a distraction quickly.
Gameplay in Valkyria Revolution is the most disappointing part of the experience. Previous Valkyria games had turn-based strategy role-playing that was very tactical, while Valkyria Revolution leans towards a more action-based style. You control one of a group of four characters on a map and battle enemies while capturing objective points along the way.
However, the game tries to blend the tactical turn-based style of the series with that of real-time action maneuverability, giving players stiff movement and a limited number of actions based on a gauge. It’s as if the developers couldn’t decide what style of gameplay they wanted to go with, whether it was to stay traditional or try something new for the series. It became a struggle to aim physical attacks or use abilities on enemies when I had to constantly halt the action or reoriented the camera in most situations.
Outside of battles, the game has a number of areas you can explore in-between missions. This is when you can level up character abilities and make new equipment to prepare for tougher missions. Roaming around the different parts of town however can be a little boring as many of the town citizens look like mannequins lingering around the area.
It also doesn’t help that traveling between areas requires you to reach one of the exit points at the edge of the section you’re in, rather than have a menu for fast travel between locations. This wouldn’t be so bad if your movement in the town wasn’t so slow and your ability to sprint wasn’t locked off.
Valkyria Revolution does attempt some new and interesting changes to the series, but doesn’t execute them well enough to be successful. The presentation could have been much better had there been more attention to cleaning some of the more distracting elements throughout the experience. The shift in gameplay to action from turn-based gameplay would have been a welcomed change, but only if the game fully committed to doing so. What we get instead are stiff battles that don’t feel good to play through and a dull story that doesn’t incentivize us to stick with it.
This review was based on a digital review code for Valkyria Revolution for the PlayStation 4, provided by SEGA.