You know what was a bad game to play before Valkyria Revolution? Dragon’s Crown. I’ve been working on wrapping that one up, and the muscle memory I’ve built up in my ~30 hours with it is kind of profound. The problem, however, is that attacking in that game is done with square and circle, and the Xbox controller equivalents (oh yeah, I probably should have mentioned that the platform I’m playing it on is Xbox One) instead perform defensive/evasive maneuvers. This means that I keep running up to enemies and heroically… blocking at them. I also can’t wrap my head around how Dragon’s Crown’s jump button is the one used for attacking in Revolution. That’s not even the last of it; I keep trying to dodge with the right trigger, which is the lock on button. Needless to say, combat gets really, really confusing.
The camera issues don’t help any
While the camera is usually be on the meh-ish side of “fine,” it can also go crazy if you end up standing in a spot the game doesn’t expect. When I finished a mission too close to another character, the camera decided to randomly start headbanging.
The game’s easy thus far, though
I’m playing on the normal difficulty setting, which is the hardest one available to choose from. Maybe a hard mode will unlock after finishing? Some games do that. Still, despite not playing on easy, the game’s been a breeze. That’s to be expected to a certain extent since it’s still early going and I’ve only played through a few levels (though the lengthy cutscenes make it feel like I’ve been playing much longer than I actually have), but it’s pretty easy even for early-game content. You’re practically playing in god mode. Incidentally, I have noticed that enemies can occasionally get a bit damage sponge-y. I’m not going to be a happy camper if that’s the way the game chooses to create a sense of difficulty, because there’s nothing more exhaustingly Sisyphean than two nigh-invincible parties thwacking at each other for 30 minutes.
Sadly, it’s really looking like that’s the direction things are going. The last mission I completed had a boss who sat around soaking up damage from all 4 of my party members. The whole thing was me shaving imperceptibly tiny portions of his health off until he was finally beaten, and it just makes every attack feel insufferably weak and floaty. Worse, the fight started with him one-shotting one of my party members so that the game could barrage me with yet more tutorials. Apparently permadeath is a thing, but you can revive characters if you reach them in time. It’s been so long since I played Valkyria Chronicles that I don’t remember if this is something that was carried over, but I suppose it’s functional enough. Taking out a party member in one blow to teach me that, on the other hand, is stupid and game-y.
Turn-based and real-time aren’t meshing
While the game’s mostly action, there are also weird little features that are vaguely turn-based. For example, you can only attack if your “can do actually useful things” bar is charged. You’re stuck running around and defending until then. Once it’s charged, you can attack, open up a menu to use special items/spells or command another character to attack with their stuff, or in my case, heroically run up and block in an enemy’s face even though you can technically block at any time.
This combination of real-time and turn-based doesn’t work well. You’re constantly playing stop and go with attacks while everyone is running freely around, and it feels more like the arbitrary limitation it is than the breath of fresh air that was Valkyria Chronicles’ unique mechanics. Damage sponges don’t magically become fun if you limit how often you can smack them with a random game of red light/green light.
Apparently some missions involve stealth, but I can’t imagine how that’s going to play out. I tried to hide behind some bags, but guards from far away noticed me. When the mission started, however, I was standing in plain view and no one saw my 4-person squad. I have no idea how far enemies can see or what kind of cover is required to avoid being seen, ensuring that stealth is currently 100% useless. Time also factors into end-mission rankings, so I see no reason to possibly do anything but run up to enemies and smack them with a sword as quickly as possible.
I have no idea how long I’ve played anymore
You know, I was using the in-game playtime that shows up on the save game to determine how long I’ve played, but that’s no longer accurate; because cutscenes are so long and unpredictable (even when you think it’s time to actually play, you might get a second cutscene that does nothing but add a superfluous action scene already more than covered by the previous one) and you can only save between missions and all of the subsequent cutscenes, I find myself pausing the game and walking away from it to engage in real-life stuff. Otherwise I’d have to skip story cutscenes and go back later to figure out what was going on. The number of cutscenes in this game is really starting to become a problem.
Romance is in the air, I think?
The future lady telling the story of the war explains that there was a “complex love” at play, and I can’t help but suspect that it’ll be between the main character (I don’t remember his exact name, but there’s a ø and a æ in it—let’s just call him Amulet Grumpy for now, which is close enough) and Princess Weirdface. There have been too many stolen glances there for anything but creepy, stalkerish love to bloom. Sadly, Amulet seems to be showing a little bit of implied human emotion, presumably in order to set him up as a believable love interest for Weirdface later on. Double sadly, that also means that my dreams of playing through a game as anime Dick Cheney are starting to look like they won’t come to fruition here. Alas.