Compile Heart has made quite a name for itself in recent years with numerous titles from the Hyperdimension Neptunia and the Fairy Fencer F series. Their latest project involves a unique collaboration with Tales series veterans, Kosuke Fujishima and Takumi Miyajima. Dark Rose Valkyrie is finally coming to Steam on April 10th, 2018 following its original North American PS4 release in June 2017.
The game’s event takes place in 1929, the year of the mysterious virus outbreak that transformed ordinary civilians into mutated creatures called the Chimera. Infected individuals are gifted with superior intelligence and power above ordinary humans with the virus gradually destroying their mind and consuming their bodies. The source of the Chimera virus stems from Black Garnet, a strange meteorite that crashed and caused the entire incident. As many as 3% of the world’s population was wiped out by the epidemic, with Japan closing its border and declaring a national state of emergency. ACID, a covert military group short for Anti-Chimera Interception Division, was formed to fight the Chimera and over time, the special unit, Special Force Valkyrie was established. You take on the role of Asahi Shiramine, a newly appointed captain chosen to lead the special unit. Commuting to the home base, he is suddenly attacked by unexpected Chimera but saved by the same force members he is charged with leading. After proving his combat abilities and surviving the deadly encounter, he is transported to headquarters and given his full briefing.
Combat is turn-based and takes on the form of the Tactical Wait Battle System that shares similarities to the Grandia series. Player and enemy turns may switch and consistently change depending on your actions and the selection of commands: Attack, Charge or Arts. The speed of selection actions depends on the character’s speed stat with charge attacks used to cancel an enemy attack to gain the upper hand in battle. Combos are basic attack techniques used by your party members with three levels visible on the Tactical Wait Gauge. The higher the attack, the longer the wait time to unleash more damage and vice versa with the low level attacks. You can combine and chain together specific combos for a variety of battles with the ability to use Riot Combos on unsuspecting foes. Where combos are pre-existing attacks that are not subject to time constraints, the Arts are powerful attacks that temporarily stop all movement on the Tactical Wait Gauge. Tied directly to your AP gauge, the Arts have a specified attack level and can be used collaboratively with your party members for cooperative attacks. Certain conditions like a strategic formation must be met prior to the use of “Cooperation Arts” in battle to secure victory.
Wielding the TCS, the Anti-Chimera tactical weapon with the codename Valkyrie, puts a heavy burden on the weapon bearer with notable adverse effects. The consequence of a split personality bears a striking resemblance to the violent personality change associated with Chimerization and it is up to you to distinguish these signs. The possibility of a Chimera Reserve Member among the Special Force Valkyrie is a very dangerous threat and puts the entire squad at risk. To combat this situation, you must regularly conduct one on one interviews with the Special Force members to pinpoint and expose the Chimera traitor. You can opt to enlist the services of Kana Hazuki, a trustworthy ally to conduct investigation reports as she is a reserve member that does not battle the Chimera and thus, has the lowest probability of being affected with the Chimera virus. By achieving medals through successful missions, you can increase Kana’s abilities as she is able to investigate Force Members simultaneously. Each Special Force Member is asked a total of five questions with the sole purpose of gathering information and determining contradictions in given testimonies.
Ignition is activated in battle by using the TP or Technical Points gauge and similar to combos, has different attack levels. It increases the physical strength of the party member but also passes fatigue for every turn that Ignition is unleashed. Once your character’s fatigue reaches a certain level, a cool down is selectable from the menus to give them ample time to recover. During the Ignition stage, the Command Overdrive appears and grants your party member greater effects and a boost of the Valkyrie’s full power. The character’s turn order changes in real time and speeds up greatly, giving you a strategic advantage in battle. Activating Overdrive releases a large dose of power and due to the side effects administered, you may notice a change in the character’s personality and cosmetic appearance. Tactical formations often grant your party special effects against enemies with a high Guard gauge. Lowering the enemy gauge to zero makes your foe vulnerable in a down state that activates the Ex Combo slot in the menu. Additional or side attacks can be unleashed if you are strategically paired with an ally to unleash a devastating attack on a single target or group of enemies.
Despite the TCS being a heavy physical burden on the weapon user, it can be used as a close range weapon that is fully with equipped weapon parts called Armament Parts. These parts include the Assault Gun, Sniper Rifle, Shotgun, Missile Launcher, Gatling Gun and Shield. More powerful versions of the Armament Parts can be created with research and development and parts that are stored within the TCS alter the shape and look of the specified weapon. Within development are Remodeling Parts, obtained from successful Chimera missions that can be used to create the Ultimate Valkyrie Weapon.
Visually, the game features beautiful character designs that are attributed to the Tales series character designer, Kosuke Fujishima. Veteran JRPG fans may be quick to note the aesthetic and visual similarities to the Tales series with the game showcasing the talents of Tales series scenario writer, Takumi Miyajima. Although the character designs are vibrant and appealing, the backgrounds pale in direct comparison that unfortunately subject players to dull and bland environments. In contrast to other Compile Heart’s JRPG titles, there are massive areas to explore with a world map to guide your travels with a gradual day and night cycle.
Dark Rose Valkyrie is one of the better JRPGs released by Compile Heart with its intriguing plot, engaging battles, beautiful character designs and open world exploration. Despite the slightly cliché characters, repetitive missions and bland environments, Dark Rose Valkyrie is an enjoyable and rewarding game for JRPG fans searching for a unique and intricate game from Compile Heart on Steam.
PROS (+): Intriguing Plot, Engaging Battles, Gorgeous Character Designs
CONS (-): Cliché Characters, Bland Environments
SCORE – 7.5/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Dark Rose Valkyrie on Steam provided by Idea Factory Int.