The Art of War.
Sega and Media.Visions’ Valkyria Revolution is a deviation from the legacy of the original franchise, in both style, game mechanics and art of the Chronicles titles, whilst still leaving the core premise intact. While the heavily story-driven approach and hours upon hours of cutscenes might deter some (some of which cannot be skipped), there’s a wonderfully orchestrated tale (based on classic English literature, more on that later) as well as a fun, unique hybrid combat system and fully voice acted scenes littered throughout. While the slow pacing in the battle intermissions is something of note, fans of the franchise may still find a diamond in the rough.
There’s something I simply must get off my chest from the get-go – Valkyria Revolution and it’s storytelling takes an elegant but strong influence from the master of classic literature, William Shakespeare. It makes no apologies of its inherent similarities to the cult hit, Hamlet, with its blatant labelling of the protagonist, named ‘Amleth’. Similarities aside, Valkyria Revolution sings a deep song of the untold tales of war-torn cities, in a David vs Goliath rivalry; the small, quiet town of Jutland, and the overarching evil, known as the Ruzhien Empire. With only your small clan of friends to fight the everlong battle against the evil empire, Jutland becomes endangered, with its citizens living in fear, despite the light of optimism that shines through when stopping by the many NPCs you’ll meet throughout your playthrough.
Valkyria Revolution combines a unique style to its many puzzle pieces that assemble its gameplay style and mechanics. Its battle sequences are unlike any other in the Valkyria franchise, whereby the tile-based, tactical RPG style of yesteryear is replaced in favour of an action-tactical RPG hybrid. Whilst its evident that Sega and Media.Vision were attempting to build a more fluid, fast-paced experience with Valkyria Revolution, and at times, provides a great deal of fun and satisfaction after tackling huge armies and powerful commanders, it is inconsistent, and too often. To commit any attacks other than a repetitive, melee-based combo (yes, one melee attack), you’ll need to hold down the Triangle button and cycle through each of your available attack options. Whilst your mileage may vary, I found it far too interruptive to stop, cycle, attack, each time, despite the fluidity Sega and Media.Vision are clearly trying to convey here. It’s baffling to say the least, and it would have been a welcoming option to hold the ability to map buttons to your favoured special attacks instead.
Despite its flaws, Valkyria Revolutions’ storytelling elements shine bright. As a history enthusiast, it conveys an incredible amount of detail to the history of Jutland, its heroes, and the war that near tore apart a city. In its prologue scene, the heroes you are moulded as are explained and shown to have fallen, despite their heroics. With their memory in mind, I did feel many heartstrings pulled throughout my 20-hour plus playthrough, with emotions running high as the battle grew on. It is also worth noting the incredible depth and detail of its journey, with backstories aplenty on the Ruzhien Empire unravelled as well as the origins of each of the playable characters in your party, notably, Ophelia, and her catfight with the majestic Brynhildr, her rivalled resistance.
Graphics & Sound
With its gorgeously designed environments and carefully crafted characters and populous, Valkyria Revolution is both vibrant and dark in parallel. While the heroes of Jutland are notably colourful, beaming with confidence, and are personable at a standard well known to previous titles in the series, a dark undertone is apparent in each setting you’re thrown amongst. Colours never truly pop, and it is evident that this was a forced effort to portray a brewing evil you are constantly battling. In contrast to Valkyria Revolutions’ dark settings, the original sound composition here is truly spectacular. Mitsuda-san, most well-known for his fantastic scores in the nostalgic Chrono Trigger, paints a wonderfully heroic but darkening musical masterpiece that truly brings a great deal of character to accompany gameplay. Through a contrast of softening hymns in cutscenes and majestic strings, I still seem to hold the game’s Main Theme cemented in my brain.
Valkyria Revolution is a noteworthy entry in Sega and Media.Vision’s portfolio of titles, and its ambition is a respectful attempt at offering an alternative style and flow to its previous legacy of tactical RPG elements. Despite its aspirations, it is a hard recommendation for any audience other than hardcore Valkyria fans, and, it may even be too different of a formula for previous players. While moments of brilliance appear in the form of a well-told story and overall personality, many moments are overshadowed by technical plagues and an awkward combat and attack system.