Ryu’s Musings – Dark Rose Valkyrie (PS4)

DRVA1_PackArt_PR_2DLanguage: Audio: English & Japanese; Subs: English
Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory
Format: PS4
Type: JRPG
Demo Box: PS4 Pro
Synopsis: 1929 was the year of the Chimera Virus outbreak. Defend the world from Chimeras as Asahi, the new leader of Japan’s covert military agency (ACID) in Dark Rose Valkyrie. Featuring the talents of Tales of scenario writer Takumi Miyajima and and Tales of character designer Kosuke Fujishima, this action RPG for the PlayStation4 system features real-time combat as well as an overdrive mode to gain the edge in battle. As the story develops, you must seek out the traitor through a visual novel interview system in your unit before it’s too late.

Take the fight into Overdrive! Characters can transform into their stronger split personalities mid-battle, but be strategic – too many transformations will lead to Fatigue. Customise Combos! Customise attacks for each character, and do more damage with Riot Combos. A Traitor Amongst You Depending on your choices, one team member will betray you. Find the traitor in visual-novel style interrogation sequences, and change the game’s ending.

Two of Japan’s ‘greats’ come together for this game: Kosuke Fujushima the creator of Ah My Goddess, and Takumi Miyajima script writer for Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Abyss. Together with the team from Compile Heart they set out to make a great JRPG. Did they succeed? Let’s see….

You play as Asahi, a new recruit to a special unit being deployed to fight a virus, that turns people into monsters. How team is mostly cute girls wielding giant oversized weapons that are created from elements of the virus, as a result they have their own risks when being used. This aspect alone made me cringe, especially since I’ve been playing God Eater of late.

The games premise, while nothing new, is always a fun one to play. Initially this one was as well, however as time goes by it fell into nothing more than being a slog, chasing after the same 2 monsters. Initially this was fine, you needed the time to get acquainted with the vast amount of characters, their abilities, and settle into the story.

However it fast became apparent that that was going to to be the majority of the game, it ends up becoming boring.

As a result this ended up feeling like the game was being padded out, if you were to remove this padding the games play time would probably have been cut by a good quarter or so. Now admittedly there were plenty of twists in the story, some of which actually came as a surprise. But I don’t feel it was rewarding enough for the amount of time it takes to unravel.

The side missions are generic filler ones, collecting materials, killing the same monsters over and over, very unsatisfying. What’s more is you have to do these missions to progress, so in a sense they’re no longer side missions.

Another thing I found disappointing was the lack of ‘life’ in the world. With the exception of the base area every where else is void of anything other than entrances to dungeons and monsters. It lead me at times to wonder what the fight was over, since apparently the city your based in is already dead as a dodo.

Battles here are, initially engaging and fun. Reminiscent of Trails of Cold Steel I felt, with it’s side bar for order and combat mechanics. However it doesn’t play out like ToCS, it’s a semi real time thing, where time is constantly moving, until its your turn, then it pauses until you do something. This can, and does, lead to some amazing combat scenes where you’re entire party will batter the crap out of a mob, all at once. It looks, and sounds amazing and is highly satisfying.

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Sadly scenes like this don’t happen enough for my liking. Which is weird since the aim of combat is to get as many people involved as possible, since thats how you make bonus exp. What’s worse is that the combat skills aren’t explained very well, leaving you fumbling around a bit initially. This isn’t a huge problem given the number of fights you’ll be going through, but the player shouldn’t have to fumble around for this info.

Another aspect I found irritating, and felt it was done to drag the game time out, was not giving you AOE abilities till around the 35-40 hour mark. On easy mode this isn’t so much of an issue given how easy it is to kill mobs. However on any other difficulty it becomes a huge problem, given how easily they (the mobs) can swarm and kill you; some in one shot.

Was there anything good? Absolutely, the story and visual novel aspects of the game kept me going despite all the crud. The graphics of the visual novel were superb, which given it’s the creator if Ah My Goddess that’s not a surprise. This mixed with the excellent writing of Miyajima lead to a set of amazing characters whose interactions, while cliched, were fun to follow.

The find the traitor aspect was interesting, especially since you never know who the traitor is, as it’s random. This means you’re favourite character could turn out to be the traitor one game, and another character the traitor the next.

For me this lead to some insecurity over the characters, never know who was the traitor was a thrilling and exhausting time!

Thats not to say this aspect of the game doesn’t have it’s flaws, because it most certainly did. the most notable being that the number of questions you can ask is limited by the girls trust level, which I found odd. Thankfully there’s elements that help to mitigate this problem, so it’s not to bad, just annoying. And as like the traitor it’s all random.

Then you have weapon and outfit customisation, which is pretty indepth. Of course being a JRPG you can end up in panties! The customisation did take a bit of getting used to, but once you get used to it it’s actually a pretty fun system.

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So was it a total wash out? No! The overall mechanics are fine, the story was great and fun to watch play out. The problem was with the implementation of the mechanics. And while I’ll admit that as it stands the game isn’t great, it’s not bad. I’d like to see Compile take another go at this one, and hopefully get it right next time.

Is it worth buying? Thats a tough one, the game has already had it’s price slashed from its £55 launch price, to £45 at the moment. At that price it’s not a bad game to pick up, sure it has it’s issues, but i think it comes down to you’re expectations.

Overall i don’t find this to be a horrific game, it’s certainly got it’s issues, but it’s random aspect does mean that there’s a lot of replayability in this game, something we don’t usually see.

Author: Ryu Sheng