I was playing through a recently unlocked free level, trying to experience everything the game has to offer and stay open-minded, and this particular mission was timed because of course it would be. The mission in question revolved around disarming bombs, and it was mentioned in one of the 8 billion tutorial popups present in this game that disarming requires clearing away all of the nearby enemies. I ran off and cleared out a base to receive a little extra ammo, but it mysteriously didn’t get captured when everyone nearby was dead. Writing it off, I ran to the bomb and cleared away all of the guards, but the game told me that the bomb couldn’t be disarmed while someone who had detected me was still alive. Realizing that an enemy had spotted me early in the mission, I used a sniper rifle to pick them off, at which point the base from earlier instantly got captured and I was able to run back and disarm the bomb. That’s not the most rage-inducing thing that’s happened since the last progress log, either. I can already feel it—this is the point where my irritation at Valkyria Revolution begins to snowball into full-fledged contempt.
Bugs and ladder stupidity
A later mission involved defeating all of the enemy commanders, and while it wasn’t technically timed, the tutorial explained that waiting too long risked the Valkyria showing up and strongly hinted that beating her wasn’t realistic. That was fine with me—running through levels as quickly as possible has rapidly become my preferred play style anyway. The problem came when I had finished off every enemy in sight, and turned the battlefield advantage meter thing entirely blue in my favor, and yet the mission refused to end. Over and over again I ran around the level looking for enemies I missed, checking every ladder I could remember seeing. Most ladders and ramps were blocked by boxes and barricades, though, and it quickly turned to night. The Valkyria never showed up, thankfully, but I did find a bunch of enemies that were frozen in place; they couldn’t be attacked, nor did they have any collision, and this was enough to compel me to retreat from the fight from one of my captured bases (which allows you to keep what you’ve acquired on the map).
Restarting the fight after doing a different side mission as a palate cleanser of sorts, the exact same enemies remained frozen in the exact same positions, every bit as invulnerable as they had been the first time around. This time, however, I noticed a giant enemy I hadn’t seen the first time around (because it blended in to the background once it had become dark). Commanders up to that point had been footsoldiers and bipedal mech tanks, so it never occurred to me to look for something like that. This game has a frustratingly loose definition of “commander.”
Enemies are idiots
If you shoot an enemy in the head next to his buddy, what would you expect to happen? Personally, I’d like to think that they’d notice something like that. Enemies in Valkyria Revolution have other thoughts on the matter, however, and will happily stand around waiting to be shot in the head so long as you haven’t entered the invisible line they can detect you from (at which point they have psychic powers that allow them to divine your location at all times regardless of how far you run).
The story is getting worse
There’s some interesting political scheming happening in the background of the story right now, but the minute-to-minute stuff is getting really dumb. One of the traitors randomly blurts out something that hints at him and the main character growing up together, and even worse, does so to the annoying guy who keeps looking into the matter. Totally ridiculous drama ensues, naturally, leading to one of the best angry facial expressions I’ve ever seen in a game.
The vague emotion Amulet is confusing with anger in this picture makes it readily apparent that he and Princess Weirdface are soulmates. Speaking of which, Amulet’s starting to suffer from occasional self-doubt, though this comes and goes without warning. One second he’ll indulge in a rage-y explanation about about how he’s practically made out of revenge, but then he’ll suddenly act all conflicted about whether what they’re doing is right or not. For reference, the picture above is taken after he had his little are-we-doing-the-right-thing speech in which he basically expressed admiration for the princess. That admiration comes and goes, as well, and he’ll occasionally act like she’s merely a tool to be used.
It feels inevitable that magical anime friendship will win out and his stony heart will be softened by the weirdness of the princess’ face. Incidentally, Valkyria Revolution’s characters keep trying to convince me that she’s somehow a strong character for having ideals, but she isn’t even strong-adjacent. In fact, I’m contemplating creating a collage of her whining about how useless she’s been in combat and how this time is totally going to be different because she’s going to prove herself to everyone. I fully recognize that generic saccharine goodness tends to be considered the most powerful and brave thing in existence when it comes to games like this, though.
Free missions are a grind
I mentioned in progress log #3 that enemies could take over territory if you don’t engage in free missions. This happens when you ignore large-scale battles, and while it could be an interesting feature if handled well, it has instead become a laborious grind. Enemies are constantly advancing on your captured areas—I recently took care of one area that was being attacked, only for two more to pop up immediately afterward. These levels aren’t getting more interesting, either: the enemies are becoming more damage sponge-y, but these are otherwise the exact same levels with the exact same objectives, and you have to play through them over and over with no end in sight. This whole system was a horrible mistake.