Valkyria Revolution Review: More Like Valkyria Devolution

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I loved Valkyria Chronicles, I really did. That why it fills me with utter disappointment to say what I’m going to say next: Valkyria Revolution is a bit rubbish.

But before I get started on why Valkyria Revolution is such a boring and tepid experience, let’s start with the good, shall we? Although, admittedly, there’s not much.

I guess you could say Valkyria Revolution looks quite nice at times, employing a filter to make it look like an acrylic canvas painting. Its soundtrack is fairly nice too. And that’s about it. That’s about all I can say that is definitely good about Valkyria Revolution. And even then, I’d say that the audio and visuals in the original Valkyria Chronicles, which was remastered for PlayStation 4 only last year, were better. Not sounding promising, is it?

So what’s bad about Valkyria Revolution? Plenty.

My alarm bells first started ringing when nearly after an hour of booting the game up for the first time I’d not actually done anything. I watched cutscene after cutscene, wondering when I’d finally get into some action, and when I did I was left sorely disappointed. But we’ll get back to that later. When the action was over I was treated to yet more cutscenes, and it soon became apparent that it was the general flow of the game; watch an hour’s worth of cutscenes, complete a 2o minute or so battle. Rinse and repeat. No, thank you.

It doesn’t help that the cutscenes are so dreadfully boring. Characters stand around talking absolute rubbish that really doesn’t add to the story, and the direction is just pitiful. The camera remains motionless and pulled-back a great deal of the time, detaching you from the scenes and obfuscating who’s actually talking. And on the occasions where you do get close-ups of faces, the lack of decent facial animation to express characters’ feelings will just leave you cold. It’s a shame, as you get the impression that the story underneath could have been fairly interesting if it had been implemented better. Instead you’re forced to sit through a narrative in which villains are most definitely villains, and the heroes, labelled as traitors, are still most definitely heroes, presented in the most dour way possible.

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Okay, so let’s move onto the gameplay now, which is a bit of a mess. Unlike Valkyria Chronicles, Valkyria Revolution is not a turn-based strategy game. It’s an action game with strategy elements, or at least it wants to be. You take a squad of four soldiers from your anti-Valkyrie unit into battle but you only ever control one character directly at any time; the rest loosely following the priorities you may or may not have assigned for them. Melee combat takes precedent, and unfortunately it’s boring and stilted; a cooldown timer makes you wait a little between attacks, unless you’ve built up enough morale by achieving objectives on the battlefield to make the cooldown period negligible. You can also access special skills and secondary weapons such as guns by bringing up the Battle Pallette which momentarily pauses the action. The same menu can also be used to issue direct commands to members of your squad.

Valkyria Revolution takes great pleasure in telling you about how you take cover behind sandbags and walls, but it doesn’t warn you about how often it’s a pain to do so. Too many times I just vaulted over sandbags into danger because the controls are finicky, and the walls I usually wanted to take cover behind weren’t ones I could interact with for no particular reason. I soon established that it didn’t really matter though, as enemies were such a pushover that taking cover was pointless. Honestly, you don’t need to use any strategy when playing Valkyria Revolution – just spot a group of enemies, run at them, hit them with your melee weapon a couple of times and et voila!, you’ve won. Bosses are another matter though. The challenge they present is vast compared to the grunts you have to beat to get to them, and it doesn’t even make them fun, just a slog as you chip away at their health whilst attempting to avoid their recycled attacks.

Outside of the joyless battles and boring cutscenes, you can move around a few locations and make use of various services to improve your squad, but it never feels particularly engaging. Upgrading weapons is convoluted, and purchasing new gear has rarely felt so dull. Levelling up your characters is a mindless and inessential task too, making what little side content there is even more redundant.

I really don’t get what the developers were trying to achieve with Valkyria Revolution. It pretty much takes everything that was good about the prior games and just throws it out of the window, replacing it with tedium and banality. It feels very cheap too, with the lack of meaningful side content, facial expressions and decent storytelling making it seem unfinished. Honestly, I really wanted to like Valkyria Revolution but I couldn’t. There’s not really a lot for fans of Valkyria Chronicles to like about it. It’s pretty much inferior in every way.

Valkyria Revolution is available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We reviewed the Xbox One version.