+Extremely beautiful graphics, character animations, and well written scenario
+Strong soundtrack, score, and combat systems.
+Dual Audio allows for a rather fun and enjoyable time
-Areas of the game are blocked off unless required by the games story
-Combat scaling could have used some work.
Dark Rose Valkyrie is a joint venture with artist and mangaka, Kosuke Fujishima (Ah! My Goddess, Sakura Wars, nearly every Tales Of title), scenario writer, Takumi Miyajima (Tales of Symphonia, Tales of the Abyss, screenplay for Fate/Zero), and Compile Hearts (Hyperdimension Neptunia, Mugen Souls, Record of Agarest War) set in an alternate version of 1920’s Japan, where the world is dealing with a dangerous virus that can turn people into Chimera, thanks to the Black Garnet meteorite that hit the Earth. You assume the role of Asahi Shiramine, the new commander of Special Force Valkyrie and together with your team of anime stereotypes, you fight back against the chimera threat.
You’re squad is comprised of such tropes as the naïve rich girl, the hard core Japanese character, the gun nut, the super shy kid, the super tomboy kid, the horn dog, and a down to Earth son of a wealthy family. During your journey, you’ll uncover each teammate’s quirk/issue, build a stronger team, and fight against the true threat of the game after a twist later in the game, or so I’ve gathered as I was only able to put in roughly 30 hours.
To be perfectly honest, the story has potential and I’ve grown to like some of my teammates, but what has absolutely killed any hope I had for the game is its absolutely terrible pacing issues. Each chapter follows the same formula: investigate the next plot advancing area, sudden turn of events, back to base, and accept required but pointless extra missions that further side stories. If I had to think of a good analogy, the early dot hack games come to mind where there would be cliff hanger dungeons and then you’d have to run off to collect virus cores to find out what happens next. You don’t want to do it, you don’t need to do it, but by god, you’re going to do it.
The side stories can occasionally be a breath of fresh air and provide a much needed break from the monotony, however, in order to get between plot devices, you’ll have to slog your way through needlessly complex game mechanics. Progression through the story is done via your base of operations. You’re able to choose between two floors on a map, with each containing locations you can select through icons, much like a point and click adventure.
Most areas are inaccessible unless required by the story, at which point they’ll be illuminated with a green exclamation point above the location. The actual character interactions are fairly pleasant where narration plays out like a visual novel, often giving the player multiple options that can set flags during the story, which may or may not affect the ending. Occasionally, you’ll have a random betrayal event come up where you’ll need to interview each teammate to figure out who did what, but I never found these events worthwhile, usually bringing story progression to a halt. From the spoilers I’ve come across, these “who-done-it” interviews will likely play a more important role later, but it only ever came across as needless padding.
There is a brighter spot of sorts with the combat mechanics, but not by much. Combat is pretty much your traditional JRPG set up: enemies on one side, your party on the other, with attack patterns determined by your agility stats, visually represented on the left of the screen by a vertical strip with character and enemy portraits ascending. Towards the top of the strip are four numbers, each representing a different power level you can choose when selecting attacks. Level 1 is usually weaker but much faster to execute, Level 2 is usually the sweet spot with ranged attacks, and Level 3 mostly ending up as a slow to execute but powerful chain of hard hitters.
There is a Level 4 but I was not able to use that at my point in the game. An individual, using these attacks, isn’t really much of a threat unless the character is extremely over powered, and battles quickly became tediously drawn out, but then I discovered the combo system. By timing your attacks to coincide with your teammates, you’ll be more likely to break the enemy’s guard meter, allowing you to pull off extra attacks, support attacks, and potentially a rear guard group attack that quickly started to make up for the lack of AoE attacks. With careful planning and character building, I was able to craft a team that could easily topple most enemies and deal massive damage to bosses before they could get their first attacks off the ground.
Learning how to break the combat early on meant I could usually fly through a dungeon without even healing, but this was still a tedious grind as monsters tend to be everywhere. One of the advantages the game gives you to negate the hoards is the ability to sneak up and attack enemies, giving you a first strike. When executed properly and in tandem with the combo system, most battles will be over before the monsters even get a turn, but this advantage is quickly lost when you run into the next major issue: hit box detection. The hit box on world map or dungeon enemies is completely broken.
Some enemies need to be point blank, while other are much further away, to the point that you’ll run into them and trigger a fight before you’d think to attack. There are even instances where you can trigger a sneak attack on an enemy on the other side of a barrier without them even clipping through the wall. The detection is just awful.
Dark Rose Valkyrie – PlayStation 4 (Reviewed)
Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory
Release Date: Available Now
Cost: $59.99 USD
Every now and then, you run into a game with the potential to be amazing because of the sheer pedigree of talent that brought it life, but somewhere along the line, loses its way and can’t remember what it wanted to be. Visually, I love the art style and the 2D images work very well. Even if the shifting animation effect creeps me out, but given the numerous flaws in this game.
Not to mention an overly complex leveling and crafting mechanic I didn’t even touch on, pretty looks alone can’t save this title. In the end, the Dark Rose Valkyrie is a fantastic idea but poorly executed and stuffed with filler. Only the most devoted Compile Hearts fans need apply.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game given to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 5 out of 10
About the Writer:
Greg F. is an RPG enthusiast whom absolutely enjoys the niche titles that come across from the East. When it comes to beat-’em-up brawlers such as Senran Kagura, Greg knows the titles just about as good as anyone else, but his passion not-so-secretly sits with his love for retro games from the NES and Sega period. In his free time Greg contributes to B.A.T.G.R. with his knowledge of such feedback.