One of the PlayStation 3 exclusives that probably didn't receive the credit it was due upon release was the 2008 title Valkyria Chronicles, a game where Sega continued to develop the formula they created with the Japan-exclusive Sakura Wars series. With its alternative take on Europe circa 1935, with continental war and technological development, the game presented us to some solid turn-based strategy on console. The package came wrapped in the unique graphics engine, Canvas, which made the whole game look like a hand-drawn and gorgeous animation movie without compromising the depth of the game's story and content.
Valkyria Chronicles received two sequels on the PSP, where the best of them (Valkyria Chronicles 3, for the record) never received an official overseas release, something Sega justified by pointing to the console's marginal fanbase in the West. The user base for PS4 and Xbox One is vastly bigger, however, which finally gives us another go at the Valkyria series.
Valkyria Revolution draws a lot of its inspiration from Valkyria Chronicles, but should be considered as an independent spin-off title for various reasons (aside from the fact that Sega has told us so). Firstly, we are here introduced to a new alternative take on Europe during its industrial revolution in the 1850s. The resource ragnite, which in the original series served as an equivalent to our oil, now has magical potential as well as industrial. The magical aspect opens up the use of elemental magic. Second, the game mechanics are considerably different in Valkyria Revolution. Where the three previous Valkyria games were turn-based strategy games with mechanics that gave the feel of a more action-packed version of games like Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics or The Banner Saga, Valkyria Revolution is an action RPG with mechanics more similar to games like Dynasty Warriors, its spin-offs like Hyrule Warriors or last year's God Eater 2: Rage Burst.
The fact that the game tries out something new is not a negative thing in itself. Nothing kills innovation in this business like annual releases in a series where the content is more or less the same as last year. Still, innovation needs to be well done and result in a quality product, preferably one that surpasses its predecessors. This is where Valkyria Revolution fails on most levels.
The starting point of the game and its story is acceptable. The story's told from the perspective of two historians looking back at events a hundred years prior, trying to discover the real history that occured which the history books tell nothing about. We are brought to an alternative Europe during the 1850s, where ragnite is the source of both conflict and new weaponry, as well as an industrial revolution. The little country Jutland, squeezed between four European superpowers, goes to war against the eastern empire Ruz to regain a foothold after what has been a devastating economic blockade. The reality, however, is that the war is initiated by the will of five Jutlanders seeking revenge on the Ruz empire for burning their orphanage many years ago. We follow the story of one of these individuals, Amleth Grønkjær (good luck pronouncing that one right, all you non-Scandinavians!), the leader of the Jutland Anti-Valkyrian Squad, and the squad's battles during the war that will shape the balance of power across the entire Europe.
The game's premise is not bad, then, and the depiction of an alternative Europe is quite interesting at times, especially aesthetically. There is also some moments now and then where the story or music kicks in with something that resembles quality. Still, it doesn't take long before the whole thing collapses like a house of cards, and it's the game's story, characters and direction that reveals the lack of quality most of all.