Valkyria Revolution is the latest action role playing game developed by Media Vision in the Valkyria series. Following the success of Valkyria Chronicles on the PS3 in 2008, Valkyria Revolution is a spinoff title featuring a new timeline, cast and continent that is set apart from its popular predecessor. The game is a departure from the conventional World War II setting and is the second spinoff title in the Valkyria series after Valkyria Chronicles D that was exclusively released in Japan.
The story takes place in 1853 EC, a century after the Azure Revolution that sparked an era of industrialized innovations from the discovery of ragnite that gave rise to alchemy and mana technology. A small nation known as the Kingdom of Jutland in Europa has retailed against the Ruzi Empire for its economic sanctions that has reduced the homeland to widespread poverty. Striking fear into the hearts of the neighboring nations, the Ruzi Empire possesses an ancient Valkyria named Brunhilde that wields evil destructive power and is the manifestation of death itself. The Vanargand, known as the elite Anti-Valkyria Squad, was established to protect Jutland at all costs against the Ruz army. This Liberation War also involved the kingdom’s beloved Princess Ophelia to inspire and give her blessings to the Vanargand to free the nation from oppression. Led by Amleth, the Vanargand fight against seemingly impossible odds to annihilate the Valkyria and push back the Empire’s military advances. Unknown to the elite squad is Amleth’s secret past and his connection with the “Circle of Five”, a group that strategically instigated the war who were branded as traitors and tried for treason. The Traitors are comprised of Amleth Gronkjaer, Solomon Kahlenberg, Basil Sabancci, Fritte Eriksen and Violette Szand.
Battles are a unique combination of real time combat and tactical strategies in place of the turn-based action from the game’s predecessor Valkyria Chronicles. You can opt to deploy aggressive combos or stealthily engage your enemies to subdue them quietly. Finding the necessary balance is key to securing victory in large open areas with numerous enemies. Elemental attacks are initiated via the circular Battle Palette that allows you to use alchemy in the midst of battle. When the palette is open, time stops on the battlefield that allows you to choose the best course of action. Evading or guarding against enemy attacks is necessary while awaiting the “Ready” message that indicates when your party member is able to commence attacking. Players can take cover behind walls, sand bags and other objects to scope the area for enemy positions and formations. Enemy reactions range from complete surprise to fear with their morale impacted by your squad’s actions. Hints and mini tutorials are provided at the start to ease the transition during the first few missions. At first glance, the battle system may seem confusing but the learning curve is relatively low that most players should have little to no trouble adapting.
Customizing your weapon upgrades requires the use of ragnite that can be equipped to your party member’s weapons. In turn, it is also used to unlock the skill trees for the mana weapons that grant stat boosts and other valuable bonuses to your squad members. Ragnite can be acquired by successfully completing mission objectives, buying them in shops or obtaining them as victory spoils from fallen enemies. Throughout the course of the game, select ragnite types can only be attained through exchanges involving small ragnite shards. It is recommended that players carefully stockpile and allocate the use of the ragnite shards to obtain rare ragnites throughout the course of the game.
There are four types of soldier classes: Shocktrooper, Scout, Sapper and Shieldbearer. Shocktroopers have balanced stats and excel in attack and defense making them versatile on the battlefield. Scouts are mobile and possess high movement speeds and rapid attacks. Sappers excel at healing abilities but have lower stats with Shieldbearers, as their name suggests, equipped with high defense stats at the cost of slower movement speeds and action gauges. Amleth and Princess Ophelia are categorized as Alchemists who can cast spells directly from ragnite and are among the select few who can specialize in multiple elements simultaneously. Each soldier class has special strengths with Shocktroopers mostly in the front lines alongside Shieldbearers protecting allies and drawing in enemy fire. Sappers support the squad from the rear with Scouts being versatile and offering support wherever needed.
The underlying theme of death is prevalent in Valkyria Revolution as the plot includes story events if a party member dies in the course of the game. Retries are possible to change the outcome of a disastrous event when a party member is unexpectedly killed in action. The player is motivated to protect and keep all their allies with a continuous sense of fear and trepidation. Should a comrade die in battle, specific events will not occur as the main plot unfolds and continues in their absence. Both the easy and normal difficulties are available at the start of the game as an attempt by the developer to make the game as inclusive as possible for casual and veteran series fans alike.
Visually, the title was designed utilizing the Gouache graphics engine that illustrates the world beautifully via a vivid painting aesthetic and canvas color palette. Characters models are detailed and visually appealing from the hairstyles and eye colors to the intricate outfits and advanced mana weaponry. As for the soundtrack, Valkyria fans are in for a real treat as the music was scored by legendary composer, Yasunori Mitsuda, renowned for his work in Chrono Trigger and Stella Glow. The theme song, Eternal Rest, is both an uplifting and hauntingly beautiful song with English and Latin lyrics that is performed by the talented Austrialian-Japanese singer, Sarah Alainn.
Valkyria Revolution is an action RPG that delivers engaging battles and epic boss fights that is sure to please old and new fans alike. Though it may not reach the same heights or caliber as Valkyria Chronicles, the beautiful visuals and narrative storytelling keeps players engrossed in the game as they learn more about the art of war and political conspiracies. Despite being a spinoff title, Valkyria Revolution is an esteemed game with much potential that is highly recommended.
PROS (+): Gorgeous Graphics, Captivating Plot, Engaging Battles
CONS (-): Camera Angles
SCORE – 8.0/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Valkyria Revolution on the PlayStation 4 provided by Sega.