They say every rose has its thorns, and I can confirm that is true. Dark Rose Valkyrie does have its thorns and it also has a sweet smell, but to understand this laboured analogy, do read on.
I remember first seeing Dark Rose Valkyrie on Amazon and being lured in by the exciting product description. I was willing to forgive the turned based combat for the idea of a military style story told with great anime character designs with the promise of a mystery sniffing out a traitor.
Again, that chocolate bar may look great and it may taste like chocolate but it certainly doesn’t taste as great as you expected. Yeah, the chocolate bar promised you caramel, but there wasn’t much in it and man, it didn’t mention these peanuts and I swear the rest of the bar isn’t supposed to be this crumbly?
The game was good, but not what you bargained for, and so Dark Rose Valkyrie got off a too confusing start with me.
When I began a new game I was offered three levels of difficulty an easy-peasy setting, a rock hard abs hard setting for guys who’ve been around the block, and a mega super ultra hard setting for those who live and breathe JRPGs.
There was no, middle of the road break a bit of a sweat but not too much because you don’t want to turn into The Rock, kind of setting.
So realistically, I had to choose between the easy peasy setting where you’ll get enjoy the visual novel portions of the game more. Or the potential second setting which will lead to the occasional groan and grumble when you see the game over screen.
You can’t say us reviewers don’t go the extra mile, since I picked the second setting. My game began with a quick questionnaire to suss out my persona or whatever alter ego I happened to be at the time.
The day I started, I was feeling more a Goku; so bright eyed and bashful thus the personality of my character was set, whose name Asahi, blank slate exposition Mary Sue anime character number 36567.
365667’s role is to lead his first super ultra military squad, Dark Rose Valkyrie to fight the Chimera, a mysterious virus that has plagued this alternate history world for a hundred odd years and our new line of defence consists of melee weapons that can do cool anime style attacks with.
Like cool slashing, or shooting missiles, and so on.
I was swiftly greeted by the better-dressed lady characters of the game… Seriously the male military uniforms look ridiculous. Most of the men are dressed up in silly dorky maths teacher style ties and garish suit jackets that even the worst Final Fantasy characters would think are lame… just like the male characters in the game, but more on that later on.
The girls are dressed in more practical combat tunics and can actually turn an interesting conversation, what’s more they almost but don’t quite manage to break away from the two molds of female anime characters during the often a little too long but interesting visual novel segments of the game.
Most of my time was spent either in combat or in visual novels during my 14 hours of playing… Now you must be anxious to know about the combat right?
Well, holy cow a turned based combat system I can actually tolerate, let the heavens break and the alien invasion begin.
I really enjoyed fact you could choose from different types of melee attacks and I really enjoyed the variety of super attacks that were on offer, even these did suddenly shy away during the boss fights.
I even had fun trying to unlock every character’s equivalent of Super Saiyan. Though what I loved the most was that I could fast forward the whole lot after I got bored of the combat animations and long boring battles would only last for a few minutes.
Also, I enjoyed a lot of combat animations even if they did get a bit samey after a while.
Of course, with every happy bowel movement comes a lingering smell. The health and useful items are rarer than a joke in a DC movie as in game currency is hard to come by and gets sucked up quicker than starship in a wormhole. Mostly because you constantly have to repair your characters clothes which get damaged in combat, unless you like watching whiny young adults beating up stuff in their underwear.
I think we can close the book on everything I have to say about the combat and move onto the blurb.
Sure combat is fun in comparison to walking around the malnourished but competently designed environments as you rinse and repeat the same thing in every dungeon: Enter the boring dungeon, fight monsters, defeat the mini boss, then the second bigger boss. Go home and do more visual novel stuff.
Now we can open the book on the visual novel stuff. I’m pretty sure visual novel is code for not enough budget to do cut scenes as you sit through long conversations where things are going on the in the background, like an epic sounding fight you can’t see.
All of that can be forgiven for the interactions with your team. As a captain you lead a team of oddballs, you’re given five girl characters who I’ll give an accurate run down off with a concise nickname.
You’ve got Posh Bad Ass; Tough Girly Girl; Shooty Gun Shooter; Tomboy; and Shy Clever Trevor. Then you’re two male team members shall be called “A bore to talk about and even bigger bore with a gimmick as dull as laundry”.
Overall, Posh Bad Ass was my favourite girl since she’s got an interesting tale: a shielded rich girl prepped for war and ready to go the extra mile, but has no real grasp of life. Talking to these girls with their rich and deep back stories made the visual novel portions of the game interesting and did nicely set up the traitor story.
I was willing to forgo the turned based combat and take a risk on the game since I was thought I was getting a Root Letter style interrogation portion of the game. 12 hours in and it made an appearance, a watered down system with little functionality as you have basically do a chromatography puzzle.
Not what I expected, just a bit basic but could be fun later in and you explore the back stories of you more interesting characters. Of course, the brief test you get of the system basically hints it’ll become more important later on.
Come back in another 12 hours player, that big feature we sold isn’t here yet. Go rinse and repeat in our dungeons for a while.