Before we get started I just want to say I tried. I wanted to enjoy Valkyria Revolution, honestly I did. It’s predecessor Valkyria Chronicles was a perfect example of what a tactical RPG should be like. Revolution however just… sucked.
The following review will be drawing from the 2 hours and 55 minutes of game time, which I would completely agree is a very short amount of time played, however it’s more than enough to tell you exactly what you’re in for if you decide to pick this up, honestly.
The first hour of any game is the most important. If the game fails to grab you in the first hour then you’re just not going to enjoy it. Valkyria Revolutions doesn’t grab you, it’s actually quite a boring affair. You are greeted with a very pretty cinematic cut scene and some exposition which is exactly what you’d expect, but it’s not exactly interesting. You’re given way too much background over too long a stretch and honestly? I lost interest, started playing a game on my phone while I listened to some boring history lecture about a war that happened in a fictional country that doesn’t exist. Sent a couple texts, caught up on some emails.
Eventually you get to some gameplay! Something to actually do right? Well the gameplay itself is quite interesting and fun but can mostly be solved by employing the “Overwhelming Force” technique. None of the enemies you encounter here seem to pose much of a threat and die incredibly quickly. The light tank enemies on the other hand, give you some pause for thought but purely because they take more than three hits to kill. Keep wailing on them for long enough and eventually they go down with a underwhelming thunk.
The combat mechanics and systems are a little overwhelming at first but it’s an easy enough to grasp after a few moments. There’s no need to micromanage your team as they seem pretty savvy and unlikely to get themselves brutally murdered, so leaving them to their own thing seems like a good option. Navigating the menus and skills is quite intuitive and the mechanics behind the magic attacks is great! Lining up your spell damage area to blast as many people as possible is a fine art! The moves and combat skills are cool and fun but (and this is a pretty big but) it’s just not enough.
Here’s why: In 2 hours and 55 minutes I played 2 missions and spent the rest of the time in cut scenes and dialogue. “So were the missions long? Is that the issue?” Nope. The missions are a pretty good length, they took about 20 minutes to run through. So, that’s about 40 minutes of actual decent game play in 3 hours. The rest of the time is just tedious. I’m a big fan of a good story, and the game could be awful so long as the story is conveyed in a good way, Revolution‘s story is not delivered well. It has some good premises but it spends so long talking about everything that it just gets boring. Not to mention that the whole thing is being retold by some historian who studied the events of the war and is telling an inquisitive student. This adds in an incredibly pointless little scene every now and then that takes you back to where the two are sitting and makes you click back on the professor to continue the story. Just let us play the god damned game! You’re taking long enough as it is!
There’s so much story to lose yourself in that you quite literally lose yourself, you glaze over for half an hour and when you come back to things, nothing has changed at all and it’s still just a group of people wittering on. I’m all for an expansive story but when they give you the option of reading the expanded lore rather than cramming it all down your throat as if to say “You’re gunna listen to this and you are going to like!”.
The poor story telling isn’t helped by the awful characters. They’re all so forced and generic and none of them seem to gel well together at all. “You only played two missions though, how can you say that?” Well because the rest of the time was plot development, apparently, and talking. If you can’t get your characters to mesh with 2 and a half hours talking to each other then it’s not going to happen in 12. You get your prissy princess determined to prove herself, your overly chipper bimbo who is friends with everyone, the bulky tank guy, the self obsessed asshat and every other character you’d expect to find in a JRPG.
The protagonist is probably my favourite character for one simple reason: He doesn’t say much. He’s the strong silent type who’s all grimdark and brooding who doesn’t say all that much. In a game where the amount of dialogue is just excessive, the guy who doesn’t say anything is definitely the best character there.
It’s a real shame that I can’t give more depth. I’d love to say the story gets better and the characters less obnoxious, but I can’t, the game doesn’t make you want to keep playing it to find out. Valkyria Chronicles was a fantastic turn-based strategy RPG that worked brilliantly and kept you coming back for more. Valkyria Revolutions introduces some changes to it’s make up and most of them are pretty terrible. If you’re a fan of Chronicles, stay away from Revolutions, even if you’re not still give this a wide berth.