This is a hard one because I love … love Valkyria Chronicles. I didn’t play any of the following titles, but I did follow the Valkyria Chronicles anime, and the whole “fantasy meets World War II” deal really appeals to me. However, the tactical beauty that was Chronicles has changed quite a lot, and not always for the better. Valkyria Revolution is a clean slate, a new era [Industrial Revolution] and while I love the visuals, setting, and the look of the characters I was not so much a fan of the dub of the game. I’m glad you can use Japanese voices though! Back to the setting though. How different is it from it’s predecessors? Here’s a bit of the story I was given before diving in “Instead of a WWII influence, the game is inspired by the European industrial revolution and focuses on a war of liberation between two nations. The small independent kingdom of Jutland is suffocating from an economic blockade sanctioned by the tyrannical Ruzi Empire, and must resort to war in order to liberate itself and the surrounding lands from the Ruzi’s imperialist conquest. There’s one small problem—the Ruzi Empire have aValkyria. You know, the living embodiment of death in demi-god form? Yeah, things aren’t going very well for the soldiers of Jutland.” This is such a cool concept to be honest. This is not a perfect title, but there are things I love … and things that don’t fill me with quite so much joy.
I’m torn though because it’s a new way to approach the franchise, but I’m not so sure that it was such a good idea. I think one of the things that really took me out of the action and made it drag on, is loading screens. There are so so many. The game starts off by being in the middle of the action, a tutorial-style stage that shows you just how different Revolution is from Chronicles. It’s now an action-style RPG, where you have a meter that lets you attack/not attack. You have a gauge and once you’ve attacked a few times, it depletes, and you have to defend, dodge, or hide until you can do it again. Now personally, I do enjoy the battle maps, and this new way to do battle, it doesn’t feel as tactical. I’m glad it’s not all just “story missions” though. There are piles of “free missions” to use for farming, powering up the squad, and just to get into some of that fun action the game promises. It definitely delivers on that point. But you go from that to trying to build your Social Circles, juggling what character to use when, what skill set you want on them, and it becomes quite overwhelming.
That’s not to say that battle is bad because nothing could be further from the truth! You control one character [you can pick who you want the playable character to be though] but have a squad with you, and you can set how they act! Sort of! The “Potentials/Priorities” system is in the tactics menu. Potentials are the innate skills/talents of the characters. If they have “Alchemist”, their Alchemy damage is increased. That means, of course, you’ll want to build them around some Alchemy abilities. They might also have “Picky Eater”, which means their Magic Attack decreases when their HP is lower than 30%. That means you’ll want them in the back row, probably. Unless you’re very good/ballsy. The priorities are just that: A list of priorities you want that character to utilize. You can put all manner of things there: Class Alchemy [Alchemy for a specific class], Evasion, Guarding, being a Leader, a Vanguard, and so many more things. You get a lot of slots for this, and this offers a plethora of tactical possibilities. But I do have a minor contention with this. The game is half action/hack ‘n’ slash, and half tactical sneakabout. It’s a little frustrating, honestly. I feel like perhaps they should have stuck to one or the other, and I think that choice should have been the combat.
Speaking of the combat, it’s the best part of the game! Sure, you have to wait to attack again, but you have lots of cover to hide behind. While you’re waiting, you can queue up very cool abilities. Want to use grenades and lob them at a giant robot to break its leg, cripple it for the squad? Do it! You can swap out to a sniper rifle/machine gun to blast enemies soldiers, throw some alchemical powers at them, and leap over the barricade to start slashing people to bits. It’s so crisp, so gratifying, and it’s easily the best part of the game. It does make me sad that I felt like I had to wait so long to get back to those battles. Though after a while, the mission parameters are going to feel a bit redundant, so I feel like, after a while, I want to take a little break. I’ll still love the combat when I come back, I just don’t want to do the same thing over and over, ad infinitum. I do that enough in Disgaea, thanks. After a battle, after you’ve been ranked/graded on your performance, there are so many cutscenes, with a little lackluster animation/mouth movements. That doesn’t really bother me so much, but it does ruin the immersion of the grittiness of war just a bit, to a young woman telling a story, giving a history lesson to another boy. I like this method of storytelling, don’t get me wrong, but it is such a long time between combat. Combat isn’t perfect though. Some of the aiming/camera angles are wretched, making things above me a bit of a hassle to get to see, or being trapped behind a camera on a larger boss, so I can’t see where I need to move is quite vexing.
Then you have to walk around town, upgrade items, buy new gear, and do a lot of prep between battles. So while the combat is phenomenal, it can be a bit of a chore simply to get back to those coveted, wonderful battles. Though the animation isn’t the best, I have to say that I love the painted-style graphics. It’s unique, and it really fits the era they’re trying to recreate. The music is gorgeous, and I could really see myself laying back in my chair with a good book, listening to the classical-style score. I mean, come on: It’s Yasunori Matsuda, and that man can do no wrong. The aesthetic setting is one of the best I’ve not seen in a long while, and while I can be a little annoyed walking through town to get ready for the next epic showdown, I’m calmed down by the people milling about and simply admiring how visually stunning it all is to me.
Chronicle, Chronicle, Wherefore Art Thou Chronicle? 3/5
I do think diehard fans of Chronicle will probably still enjoy “Revolution”. The world building is still superb, the game is still very interesting. It’s a new way to experience the Valkyria Chronicle world, and while I think that’s good, I definitely think too much effort was put into the game being “radically different”. I would have honestly been fine with another game that felt just like Valkyria Chronicle but in a different region/time period. It still has the hallmarks of the original, with Valkyria, the Ragnite. There’s amazing equipment creation, customization in the Priorities system. You can do so many things with your team! But something just feels off. A lot of the character interaction feels forced, they feel like they’re all generic character tropes. We have the “spunky girl”, the “handsy pervert gentleman”, the “gritty badass bound by revenge”, you name it, they’re all there. Do I still like them, and enjoy working with them to see the struggle done? Of course! It’s just a little underwhelming in that department. If you wanted to make an action game, just make it an action game! We’d have understood, I promise. I think that it might deter people that aren’t already in love with the series, but it is a good game at its core. I just genuinely think it’s trying to do far too much at once, and some of it gets lost in translation.