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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Valkyria Revolution

An offshoot of the Valkyria franchise set in an alternate history, which on paper sounds like a great idea - the series is known for its wonderfully realized world and characters.  Sadly, Revolution does not implement the idea well; in fact, it has far too many ideas and no clue what to do with any of them.  Like the Chronicles games you move about in real time and pause to take actions like aiming and shooting, but you're afforded many more options now - almost too many.  You have spells, grenades, a rifle and a melee weapon with an array of special attacks, and you still use the cover system from the old games to reduce damage and heal your troops.  On top of that, the game tries to jam in elements of just about every popular action title of the last 15 years; so you get Metal Gear Solid 4's emotion system, cover shooting, hack-and-slash (with one button press doing a combo followed by a lengthy recharge period), commanding your squadmates and reviving them when they fall like in Mass Effect, and managing morale as you capture points a la Dynasty Warriors.  All actions besides simple melee combat and defensive dodges and blocks are handled in the clunkiest way possible - by having you press Triangle to bring up a menu to completely pause the action, then selecting your commands from a circular menu.  The gameplay already is an enormous mishmash of half-cooked ideas, and that's before you even get into having to buy and scavenge materials to craft new gear and weapons for later missions, which just adds a layer of tedious micromanagement on top. Despite ostensibly being set a century before the timeframe of Valkyria Chronicles, the technology level is far more advanced and distinctly unbelievable, with gigantic mecha and mechanical limbs with superweapons, and the protagonists all wielding improbable weapons like buster swords and giant spears; a stark contrast to the more grounded low fantasy take on World War 2 the mainline series presents.  But on top of all that, the pacing is absolutely atrocious - you get maybe one or two missions in between solid half-hour blocks of nonstop cutscenes, all with a dopey framing story about a teacher and her student going through the history of the Five Traitors.  The rest of the series uses a graphical engine designed to resemble a pencil-drawn story (complete with onomatopoeic sound effects), but Revolution goes for more of a watercolor painting look that just looks overly busy and distracting; not to mention it really doesn't pair well with the exaggerated anime designs of the characters.  Valkyria Revolution tries very hard to take the series down a new path, but with no goal in mind other than desperately trying to appeal to everybody, it ends up pleasing nobody; not even the most die-hard of Valkyria fans.

Developer: Sega CS3, Media.Vision
Publisher: Sega, Deep Silver
Platform: Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, XBox One
Released: 2017