Valkyria Revolution Review
By Daniel Lein
I’ve been known to enjoy a good anime from time to time, but I’m no critic. I like me some Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, but can only loosely tell you why. So when I hit the 56th uninterrupted minute of Valkyria Revolution’s opening cutscene, I felt a little out of my comfort zone. I am not exaggerating when I say that the first hour of this “game” is just one long cutscene. It would have made it a feature length of 90 mins if not for a very short combat tutorial stuck in at around the hour mark. And again, I’ve known to enjoy one of them animes, but this one is no good.
Valkyria Revolution squanders its bright and beautiful color pallet on poor facial animations and impossibly undynamic camera shots. Every conversation (which is primarily what this and many other cutscenes are comprised of) is shot at a lazy forty-five degree angle with rarely any cuts which would allow us to see the speakers faces. I’m sure this sounds nit-picky, but for Valkyria Revolution, cutscenes occupy a very large chunk of the playtime. Because of these poor shots and animations, conversations are stiff and characters feel awkward and shallow. The voice acting isn’t much better, as the English VO is more wooden than the animations and the Japanese is monotone, quiet, and seemingly uninterested. The story doesn’t help either. Valkyria Revolution follows a gaggle of revolutionists who occupy different influential levels of the government. Each revolutionist, or traitor, is working hard to start a war for reasons yet to be known. This plot would be fine, I’m always down for a bit of military/political melodrama, if it were not for the carboard characters. Even when you learn their reasoning behind starting the war, you aren’t invested in them as characters, making their reasoning feel trite . This is especially true for the main character, Amleth, who never shows any emotion aside from edgy anger or total and all-consuming too-cool-for-school indifference. Qualities that make ignore the character rather than become endeared to him. Amleth, in addition to being traitor, planning a war, is Captain of his homeland’s military forces. This is where the actual gameplay of Valkyria Revolution crawls onto center stage.
I say crawls because it takes the game two hours to really get going. Valkyria Revolution blends musou style hack and slash big battlefield combat(of Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors, and Democratic National Convention Warriors fame) with Dragon Age style cool down attacks. The musou combat came to mind primarily because of the repetition, AOE attacks, and battlefield setting, but at its core, you are waiting for an action meter to fill after which you can attack, cast spells, or use items. Combat isn’t complicated but its fast, and just barely tactical enough to not be annoying, and just musou enough to be fun. This, however, is a major departure from the tactical XCOM-style combat that Valkyria is known for. Battles are fun in that mindless way musou games are, but they require little more than button mashing, which was a disappointment. After battles, you can check off achievement-like quests to earn money, which you can use to buy spells and make improvements to your armor.
After that though there isn’t much to Valkyria Revolution. A poorly delivered story with dull, poorly executed cutscenes surround some decently fun combat. Graphic style is honestly gorgeous, but with the poor animations and awkward drawings it ends up feeling wooden and impersonal. Which goes the same for the music, which is repetitive and inappropriate for certain scenes. For example a grand victory score might play over a secretive meeting. All in all, Valkyria Revolutions feels like a very “meh” game. I certainly hated it in the grind of that first hour long, exposition filed cutscene, but once I got into the combat I found at least some of the fun. That being said, there are other much better games for you to spend your time with.
Valkyria Revolution earns a 5/10