Dark Rose Valkyrie is the latest project from Japanese developer Compile Heart. The game features a turn-based combat system that lets the player control the flow of battle with timed attacks and combos. The story is set in an alternative timeline Japan where the world has been devastated by a virus outbreak that infects humans and transforms them into blood thirsty monsters called Chimera.
Compile Heart are not usually known for their quality games but they sure can release a game in a short amount of time. Their output this generation has been fairly consistent although majority of their RPGs suffer from low-budget that usually results in a bland experience. Dark Rose Valkyrie is no different here except the battle system that they have implemented here makes the game genuinely fun.
Dark Rose Valkyrie attempts to take liberty with the story by putting it in the past Japan. The year is 1929 and the world is in a post-apocalyptic kind of situation after a meteorite hits Earth and unleashes a virus on it. The virus has the effect of transforming humans so it is essential a ‘zombie’ virus excepts with monsters called Chimera. The virus is potentially more effective on a male than a female, leading to decrease in the male population of the world.
The story sounds like an excuse to setup a female dominated party although it works in the context of the story, it still feels silly in the actual game. One of the reason is because of the typical anime cliches that usually crop up in the story. The main character is the captain of a combat team that has been tasked to kill the Chimera and eliminate any threat but the game attempts to play this dynamic to setup relationship between him and the other female party members.
Thankfully while the story is rather lackluster, the combat is fun and it is genuinely exciting to play some of the battles. The developers have crafted a well managed combat here that allows you to strategically select your action. The combat is turn-based and similar to Final Fantasy X in term of the way the turns are executed. There is an action bar on screen which shows the upcoming turns for your party members along with the enemies. Depending on how many turns are accumulated at any given point, you can unleash a barrage of cool looking chains and combos as your party obliterates the enemies.
The combat allows you plenty of choices from executing basic attacks to allow special attacks that are tied to your ability points. You can easily kill most of the basic enemies with the regular combos but when it comes to boss battles, you will have to work out a strategy in order to beat them. Simply rushing to attack won’t always work in the battle and carefully utilizing the placement of the party members and predicting their actions is the actual fun of the battle system.
Dark Rose Valkyrie doesn’t really offer much in term of third person exploration and free roam. The game is mostly set in a military base which acts as the main hub for most of the main story. This is essentially a map layout with key story events, character interactions and upgrades/quests presented as icons on the screen. You can go to any point on the map by selecting the location with a cursor although you aren’t visually roaming around this main hub, it cuts the mindless exploration allowing you to simply experience the main story events or establish relationship with the characters without much trouble. The dialogue segments and story are shown in visual novel style design so the main hub reminded me of Danganronpa in that sense, where you were able to visit each main story character during story breaks.
The exploration comes when you leave the military base to visit the outside world. That is the part where you will take part in story missions or quests to clear the world of Chimera. You can roam around in third person while also switching to an overhead view. You can see the monsters roaming around the world map and can attack them to initiate a battle. The enemies can also start a first strike by ambushing you first, or you can sneak around and attack from behind to lay out the first attack.
The story missions are sadly repetitive mainly revolving around cleaning a certain area from Chimera while the sidequests aren’t much better. The story doesn’t really offer much twist aside from a narrative hook that ties to the end where you are tasked with finding a traitor within your own ranks. The dramatization here is that the traitor will be randomized and depends on the choice that you make in the game, so it can be anyone. Perhaps this is the only saving grace for the story because aside from the combat, the game is rather bland.
Dark Rose Valkyrie is good for a light-hearted fun but it certainly doesn’t live up to other JRPGs from developers like Bandai Namco or Square Enix. Just don’t go in the game with much expectations and enjoy the light story beats and the combat system.
Dark Rose Valkyrie Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Dark Rose Valkyrie is a Japanese role-playing video game developed by Compile Heart and published by Idea Factory.
Dark Rose Valkyrie shows that Compile Heart can create a fun combat system. Although they still need to brush up their skills when it comes to the presentation and overall story for the game.