Dark Rose Valkyrie Review (PS4)on June 21, 2017 by Kitsumeda
Dark Rose Valkyrie is set in an alternate reality 1929 where the world was hit by a meteorite. With it came a mysterious virus known as the Chimera Virus which turns infected people into mindless monsters. Despite how catastrophic this may sound it only killed off 3 percent of the population and Japan is more or less what you expect albeit with a few more military academies.
You play as Asahi Shiramine, a youth that has been selected because of his ultimate beginner’s luck to command the Valkyrie Squad in their mission to take out the Chimera threat. Naturally men have a higher chance of contracting the virus so you will be surrounded mostly by cute girls of all shapes and sizes.
Its not all fun and games since you will slowly but surely need to earn the trust and respect of your subordinates. The story is for the most part told through beautifully drawn visual novel segments and even offers relatively frequent choices, which depending on how you answer may help you earn trust of your group. Your group is filled with stereotypical but nevertheless interesting characters. It consists of a quite girl, a strict military type, a somewhat spoiled princess, a guy obsessed with washing laundry and numerous others.
However there is a traitor among your ranks. As you progress through the plot you will be tasked to interview your squad and find contradictions between their statements. The traitor is different for every playthrough so it’s never so straightforward. This is a rather enjoyable break of pace and fits well with the overall story.
This is a Compile heart game through and through. You’ll be running from one event to the next while fighting countless enemies that roam the city. Periodically the game will pause the story and force you to deepen the relationship with your comrades or complete menial side quests before letting you proceed, and it is at times like these that the game feels like its padding out its already long playtime.
Thankfully, the combat system is reminiscent of the legendary Grandia franchise. Turns are determined by the vertical bar on the left side of the screen. All the characters and enemies move up the bar until they hit a certain point. There you can input a command and then must wait until their portrait reaches the acting stage.
How long it takes from inputting an order until your character executes it depends on the power of the command. Light attacks are executed almost instantly, while heavy attacks take a good while longer to charge.
Aside from the ever-handy combos and overpowered spells and skills, you can opt to use charge the enemy. While the amount of damage it does is negligible, it ends up being very useful since it has no wait time and sends the enemy’s turn order back, perfect for canceling a powerful incoming attack.
It’s not just about dishing out the most damage, but timing it too. While you are slashing and firing away at an enemy it is staggered, effectively prolonging the time it takes until it can strike again. If you pummel an enemy enough in one turn you can break its guard, allowing for powerful team strikes. All this makes for dynamic battles that are more about timing than positioning.
Despite the rather novel battle system, it unfortunately quickly manages to devolve into a brainless grind. Even though all enemies are visible when roaming around, evading them is easier said than done with tight corridors and speedy monsters lurking about. What this ultimately boils down to is one battle after another with minimal down time. The game offers countless complex mechanics told through dozens of tutorials in the game’s first few hours, but you can easily get by the majority of the game without ever having to use them.
As expected from Compile Heart and Idea Factory, the game doesn’t actually make full use of the hardware it’s running on. It is nice to see the Dark Rose Valkyrie run at a higher resolution on PlayStation 4 Pro, but the signature unsteady frame rate is ever present. This is particularly disappointing considering that visually the game can be bland at times. Most of the locations you visit will be massive albeit barren.
Unlike their typical moe outing, Dark Rose Valkyrie borrows a bit more from the Tales series. Both character designer Kosuke Fujishima and scenario writer Takumi Miyajima worked on the game so it has a pretty unique overall atmosphere. The game features the always lovely living, breathing characters made by Live2D, bringing the otherwise static visual novel segments to life.
For everything it had going for it Dark Rose Valkyrie ends up being a missed opportunity. It threads on the well-beaten path of its predecessors. The few new noteworthy changes such as picking out the traitor among your ranks, engaging combat and the relatively enjoyable story do make for a small breath of fresh air, but they are let down by the somewhat lackluster execution. Unless you played through all the excellent JRPGs that came out this year, there your time could be spent better elsewhere.