Copyright Adam Schlosser
Contact:
aschloss@gmail.com


Copyright 2005 Adam Schlosser


Posted by Pip

F408- RuleMon

So he's the one pushing for all this Force violence and it's not just their natural belligerent tendencies. And he doesn't even love his own team! How can you create Poison and not think she's the bee's knees?! Drop Sloth on him again for his transgressions!


Quick Critique: Valkyria Revolution

Valkyria Revolution could have really been something, but a focus on an amateur and awful story, terrible characters, and grindy gameplay ruin the few things it does well. I rather enjoyed the original Valkyria Chronicles. I thought it set up an interesting world and had fantastic gameplay, despite some bad writing and characters of its own, but Revolution has very little to actually do with Chronicles, outside of some basic terms and set dressing. The gameplay is totally different and the universe itself has only a passing resemblance. VR just straight up has magic and wyrms in it, so VC's "it's the modern world but with these few magical twists" is right out the window.

Revolution's main issue is its awful, awful writing while the game wallows in itself. It's super talky and there are long stretches and save prompts where you never have even a minute of gameplay. The first hour contains SIX minutes of gameplay. That's not a hyperbole. It's basically cutscenes and loading screens with some peppering of gameplay to break it up. It's full of Valkyria's super anime trope-y characters but takes them to a whole new level. You're in a war against enemies with guns and tanks (and giant dinosaur and scorpion mechs?) but you fight with a sword and the princess is an idol singer. It's so anime that after the prologue where your nation devolves into a war to fight against an oppressive country that's instituted a crippling economic blockage and is murdering civilians, your team's sergeant pushes the soldiers to break into the women's showers and gives a speech about breasts and why it's not only okay to abuse your fellow team members like that, but if you don't do it, then you're not really a man. This game has horrid writing. This game is bad. It's "people should have lost their jobs" levels of bad. There can be three or four cutscenes that just belabor the same point over and over or involve characters tracking down information that's already been shown to you. The cutscenes aren't even directed well. There are lingering shots on empty rooms, spacious gaps between lines of dialogue, and repeated establishing shots that were never needed in the first place. I wouldn't even like the characters if I could get over how generically anime they all were. I can take fantasy in my war just fine, but maybe two of the playable characters look like they belong in their jobs or are remotely prepared for what's going on. This is a game where upon deciding to wage war on not-Russia, your characters march into battle without coats and while wearing miniskirts, but will then gripe about how cold it is. Several of the actors do a good job voicing these abominations, but the material they're given is so weak that it amounts to nothing. It's probably telling that the only two characters I could stomach were the two ladies that spent most of their time insulting the rest of the team and generally not wanting to be around anybody else. And that one enemy grunt that repeatedly threatens to "murderize" you. It always fun with the game picks that voice clip.

Gameplay is where Revolution stands out but I think I was more lenient on it just because any time I was actually doing something, I was just so thrilled to not be watching a cutscene. There isn't much to do here, but it's still pretty buggy. Some frequent issues include characters floating across the field or running backwards with bad animations (it's like the level of detail gets set incorrectly). The game not allowing you to open chests because enemies are nearby despite you having murdered everything on the map. The main character getting stuck saying his voice clip every time he swings his sword (and his default attack has him swing three times, so you hear it A LOT). The frame rate chugs and drastically drops, even at times when there aren't enemies on the screen. Even when you're playing, the game feels desperate to give you more cutscenes. There's a short scene every time you clear out enemies from an area, a short scene every time you take a base, and a short scene every time enemies call in reinforcements. Sometimes taking a base triggers enemies being called in, so you watch the base scene, then it returns the camera back to your characters, then it immediately takes control away from you and plays the reinforcement scene. As you play stages over and over and over, these scenes become a real pain.

It's a shame that all this is such garbage, because the actual gameplay is pretty neat. For how Valkyria Chronicles was like a turn-based strategy shooter, Revolution is a turn-based action game. You have free movement to run, defend, and dodge at any time, but attacking or using spells/items creates a short cooldown and enemies likewise have action bars that you can see fill before they act. The battlefield is hectic, but knowing you can go turn by turn keeps it manageable and a quick scan will reveal which enemies have full action bars and who you need to take down first. As the battle goes on and you start to kill off enemy commanders or capture enemy bases, your cooldown between turns starts to get shorter and shorter. By the end of a fight, as long as you've been completing all your objectives, you can do attack after attack with no cooldown at all and grunt enemies will fall to the ground and be inflicted with a "fear" status effect at just the sight of you. It does a great job of making you feel like your actions matter and that you're taking control of the battlefield.

That's kind of it on what's enjoyable about the game. The AI is mostly useless so your partners will just stand around and stare at enemies. I left an enemy with maybe two pixels of health and surrounded by three of my teammates, but by the time I returned from having butchered half a dozen other soldiers, all three of them were still just running around the enemy they could have killed with just a single hit. It's a hassle to outfit characters because you have to do it character by character and inventory slot by slot. Story missions switch you to specific characters so you have to have everybody equipped always because you don't want to get stuck with the character you never used for 99% of the game but now you're suddenly stuck playing as them so they're under-leveled and not equipped with anything.

The upgrade system has merit, where you turn crafting materials into new uniform parts so you can customize your stats or you can sacrifice Ragnite that gives you new spells to use it to upgrade an individual squad member. The problems are that it's super UI intensive and requires a lot of inventory management, but moreso that the effects aren't really noticeable. Higher level Ragnite doesn't give you much of a boost, so I just farmed the side missions to max out my main character in the second chapter of the game. I got XP to level up, crafting materials, Ragnite to sacrifice, and money to buy equipment and research weapons while I was grinding, so it was worth it early on. Those gains did not stay noticeable as the enemies quickly ramped up in level and I soon fell behind within a matter of a few story missions. The game expects this constant level of grinding just to keep pace with the enemies. At the end of the game, magic is all but completely useless, so all the time I spent on it was just wasted. The main character gets a super strong spell as part of the story and the secondary character gets a spell that fully heals the entire party, so there's no reason to use the normal magic outside of fighting a boss that you can interrupt by casting opposing magic. Early on in the game, you can make the best armor and your starting rocket launcher and grenades are the most useful of all of them, so everything else is just a waste of money. As you get into the end game, it becomes grindy to the point that it feels worse than a free to play mobile game. Upgrading your weapons is ridiculously slow, subweapon upgrades get stupidly expensive, and leveling up characters takes forever. It would be bad enough on its own, but given how repetitive and boring the grindable missions are and how little they pay out, it's nothing but tedium to artificially inflate the length of the game. You're stuck doing missions that aren't fun and that you've beaten dozens of times before, because if you don't, you'll fall behind in levels and the already too long boss fights will just take that much longer.

You rarely feel like you're making any progress in the war on a grander scale, unlike how in individual battles you feel like you're accomplishing something. There are missions that force you to use certain moves, defeat certain enemies, and so on, but they just endlessly repeat. You beat 10 enemies using water magic and defeated a giant scorpion tank, cool, here's a piddly reward now do it again. Then smaller battles perpetually spring up on maps you've already beaten. You can even lose territory if you don't constantly repeat these missions, even though you've beaten them dozens of times before. There's no real reward for beating it again, you just don't get punished. If there was actually some benefit to them, like weakening the enemy in the next story mission, they would be a fun diversion. Or if you could fortify maps you've completed over time to prevent the enemy from taking it back, that would be a great solution. My team was bogged down with crafting materials, old weapons, and money that I wasn't going to put to good use, so let me help out the country because apparently everybody that isn't on my team is a drooling moron incapable of holding a position I've already liberated. I saved the same map from invasion over a dozen times but basically had nothing to show for it and the map would be invaded again within a handful of more missions.

I did not finish the game. I got the very end but could not force myself to finish it. I was going through a multi-part mission that was over 30 minutes of tediously whittling down tanks with far too much health over and over and over, made my way to the boss, tediously whittled down its health, fighting a camera that couldn't keep the boss in view as I blindly hacked away at it, only for the boss to do a single move that killed my entire party in one hit (from near full health to 0 in a single hit and my main character was even defending at the time). The game didn't return me to the boss fight, it returned me to the very start of that mission. I could not bring myself to play through that again and Valkyria Revolution was quickly sold off. Even if you love the Valkyria series and want to support it, do not buy this game. It is poorly made garbage. This is the kind of game that studios get shuttered over and people just shrug and say "yeah, I can see that".