My hatred for Valkyria Revolution burns brighter and brighter the further I get. It appears that I’m well over three-quarters done at this point, and yet I’ve yet to discover anything that makes me want to continue playing. The biggest irritation right now is the combat; bosses are more damage-spongey than ever, so much so that I quickly run out of MP and have to resort to weak normal attacks. The whole thing becomes an insufferable slog, and it’s designed to be that way. There was a mission that started with a fight against a bunch of soldiers, but I ran past them all since the dialogue said to hurry. It took maybe 30 seconds to a minute to get past them and start the fight against the level’s boss. Once I had won, I received an S-rank for a time of 5 minutes and 57 seconds. Not a B-rank or a C-rank for spending over 5 minutes slowly whittling down the enemy’s maddeningly large amount of health, but an S-rank. This is evidently considered a fast time for a single boss with a single phase and absolutely no surprises beyond the usual irritations.
No intended surprises, at least
My allies have a profound talent for sucking and dying when I’m not looking. It’s starting to feel like 90% of combat is running around and reviving the idiots, and it gets really frustrating and tedious when you revive someone, take three steps, and then have to go back to revive them again because they’ve died in the meantime. That almost happens in the first clip below, but that’s not why I’m embedding it. Instead, I want you to get a feel for how reviving works. Pay special attention to the red icons that show up to indicate where your fallen allies are on the ground.
Notice how the entire screen becomes black and white when someone needs reviving? Yeah, that’s really distracting and annoying (especially in this fight where color-coded spheres let you see which magic is effective at the moment). That’s not even mentioning the screen shaking wildly, the audio being a mess of overlapping songs that don’t remotely work together, and various combat information popping up on the screen for a short enough time that you can’t actually read any of it. Still, it’s workable enough. It’s just a good thing that fallen allies are highlighted or the black and white would make reviving a stupidly awkward process for no reason!
Of course the game would occasionally bug out and not show the revive icon, forcing you to run around looking for something vaguely ally-ish amid all the visual and auditory chaos. After all, why be designed competently when you can aspire to frustrate in every way, shape, and form? It blows my mind that this was designed by Media.Vision. These are the people who made Chaos Rings 2, which is one of the best jRPGs I’ve ever played. Valkyria Revolution, on the other hand, is the death of fun, a black hole of misery and awkwardness too thoroughly incompetent to accomplish anything but crushing your will into a singularity of disgruntled rage.
There’s this minor side character who doesn’t really do anything important, and out of nowhere all of the characters randomly started going “wow, I respect that guy so much!” Another told the princess that she should be sure to communicate her admiration for what he does the next time she sees him. He also brought up his family in an earlier cutscene. The game’s stunning lack of subtlety made it obvious that that he was about to be killed off for drama, and this was so predictable and cheap that I burst out laughing when it happened (the actual death scene—one of several optional cutscenes you can watch after being kicked out to the narrator—is hilarious). Thus began another round of needless character drama grinding the story’s forward progress to a halt so that everyone could get a long speech in.
All the hits are here: Maxim rambling about how you’re too beneath him to kill and how you’re weak because you have self-doubt (side note: whoever first came up with this “self-assuredness = combat ability” anime trope needs to be sacrificed to a volcano god because of how incomprehensibly stupid it sounds out loud), everyone in the army acting disappointed/mad and demanding answers, the traitors all whining about how it was wrong of them to start a war and HOW COULD ANY OF THEM HAVE KNOWN THAT THERE WOULD BE CASUALTIES WHY DID NO ONE EXPLAIN THIS OH THE HUMANITY OF IT ALL WHAT HATH WE WROUGHT
Pacing? What pacing?
Meanwhile, I’m in the 10th chapter (out of 11!) and these idiots have only killed two of the five people they set out to get. I see only three possibilities for how things will shake out, all of which awful: either things wrap up with a barrage of cutscenes, the story is left unresolved/tragic in some way, or there’s some kind of supremely insulting deus ex machina that magically fixes everything at the end.
Slowdown is becoming a problem
There are status effects that can slow you down in combat, but I noticed that my characters were running weirdly slow in one of the missions despite not suffering from any of them. Then I started to notice the choppiness while fighting a bunch of enemies and realized that the game was struggling to maintain a solid frame rate. I may not be a die-hard frame rate zealot like some people out there, but the game doesn’t look nearly good enough to justify suffering from this kind of slowdown.