As with any normal person I view my time as precious and as such I do not go out of my way to find terrible games. This is why my “Worst Game of the Year” is often scaled back to worst game I’ve played compared to the others.Now, since I tend to only play games I consider good/great this can leave even good games as “the worst” for the year. An unfortunate outcome that often leads to misunderstandings.
This is not the case here. While Valkyria Revolution is not an offense to the senses as some notoriously bad games are, it is not good either and the game a far cry from its amazing predecessor Valkyria Chronicles. Valkyria is more of a mess then anything else a game bogged down by perplexing game design decisions and half baked ideas.
The first issue with Revolution will hit you almost instantly: the incessant cut scenes. Like Valyria Chronicles before it Revolution is a game heavily reliant on story, how unlike its predicessor it does this in an often hamfisted way. An example of this is the first hour of the game.
When a game begins its first job is to grab you and excite you for what is to come, Valkyria Revolution did the exact opposite. It put me to sleep, literally I went to bed after this section. For the first hour of “Gameplay” you actually only play the game for about ten minute, the rest is spent in a series of cut scenes setting up the games narrative.
However I have not seen a JRPG dive you into the deep end so fast since Final Fantasy XIII. The amount of information, key information, presented to you in the first few minutes and then hours of the game is overwhelming. Rather then immersing you in the world, it takes you out of it as it feels like a history lesson. Oh wait... it is!
You see Valkyria Revolution does not take place during the revolution of the title, it takes place following the revolution in narrative flashbacks which are the game. As such the ending is presented to you right at the begining, its only the journey that keeps the tale interesting. However Valkyria Revolution forgets to make its narrative interesting, its characters likeable, or give the player any real reason to be invested in the story. In fact the “Revolution” of the title is barely a revolution its more akin to an insurrection.
As the game goes on you would think the game would trust you enough to actually figure things out on your own. However, that moment never arrives instead you continue to be inundated with cutscene after cutscene. Sometimes only broken up by an overly long loading screen! Oh joy... its not an exaggeration to say when thinking back on my time with Valkyria Revolution I think I spent more time with cutscenes then the actual game and they weren’t even interesting most of the time like Metal Gear Solid 4!
Even the characters themselves the very people that are supposed to bind you to this story are boring and unforgettable. Again I am being literal here. The characters are so forgettable I have forgotten their names that includes the main character/players avatar, I’d have to look him up online.
Finally and it was hard to place my finger on what turned me off Revolutions narrative so much. It was the darkness, while some stories revel in the dark and Valkyria Chronicles had its fair share of sadness and darkness, there was always a hopefulness too it. This was missing in Revolution as hope was replaced by a sense of dread, that things would only get worse and perhaps not that much better by the end.
From narrative flaws we move to technical flaws. I will get this out of the way now, as there is not a really good time for it. This game is ugly. Once again returning to an unflattering original comparison Chronicles art style was distinctive, it was clear a lot of effort was brought into creating the “pencilled” dynamic the game had going. The same cannot be said of Revolution, which at times looks like a standard anime style game was created which then had a pixelated lens put on top of it to mimic the original series style. Sadly the art falls far short.
A personal theory of mine is that the game was originally designed with playability on the Playstation Vita (Japan Exclusive) version. As such a lot of the more technically demanding elements of the game needed to be trimmed. As such to hide the technical flaws a post process film was added to give the visuals that Valkyria look Sega thought people wanted.
This artist malaise infects the boring, listless, and bland character designs of the cast of characters. While the originals characters were not what you would call memorable in design or personally and relied a bit too much on design tropes they at least looked good. While this is only a personal opinion I found the character designs, especially the main characters, to be among the worst in the genre. Oddly formed, glass eyed, breasts that defy physics, and just unappealing to look at JRPGs have done better almost every other time, Star Ocean IV being the exemption...
This finally brings us to the last major issue with the game: the actual gameplay. Valkyria Revolution is an action RPG but it also kind of isn’t... its an odd hybrid of 80% action mechanics like free movement around an open map/arena with 20% turn based. The turn based mechanics really hold the game back and slow it down considerably.
Likely a response to the fan outrage at more pure action focus of the early trailers, this turn based mechanic works by attaching a timer to moves like attack and special attacks. The issue with this is all it serves to do is slow down the pace of the battle and gimps your characters as there is nothing really fun about running in circles waiting for your attack to unlock.
Honestly, Valkyria Revolution would likely be better as the pure action game it was meant to be. As funny enough the multiple playable characters in battle are all unique and actually quite fun to play. Some focusing on brute force, other on magic style attacks, and others doing their own things. Further aided by actually robust customization options (though that is hindered by the amount of boring grinding one must due to unlock them) there is actually promise in Valkyria Revolutions battle system. Its just a shame it was hidden behind a horribly implemented turn based system that had not business being there.
All around Valkyria Revolution is not a good game. Sadly it cannot be forgettable either as it is attached to a modern classic and as such will always be a blemish on the series. It is slow paced, boring, and the potential of the action dashed by poor design decisions. All around your time is better spent with the PC/PS4 release of Valkyria Chronicles or waiting for the recently announced Valkyria Chronicles 4.