TGS 2016 Hands-on Preview – Valkyria: Azure Revolution a War of a Different Color (PS4)

While all three Valkyria Chronicles took turn-based SRPG combat and gave it a little bit more of an action twist, Valkyria: Azure Revolution goes the other way — it takes the skeleton of an action RPG and adds just a touch of turn-based flavor. In between the hacking and slashing and fast action, bringing up the an alternate menu of special moves offers the same time stopping afforded by the original Valkyria games.

Just as before, characters can take all the time in the world to decide exactly where to throw their grenades, aim their rockets, or whatever. Doing certain things in combat can cause psychological reactions in your enemies. For example, if I recall correctly, striking down a squad leader early can make other soldiers panic and hesitate during the heat of battle. Good stuff.

Players control one character while AI handles the other two, though players can change which one they’re controlling at will. I might assume there’s some level of AI customization or guiding, but the demo either didn’t include or I just forgot to check or… nah, I’ll stop bullshitting you, I didn’t even think about it. But hey, that must mean the AI companions weren’t fucking up my program, right?

My objectives were similar to most missions in previous Valkyria games: I was to invade enemy territory and take over their outposts. In Azure Revolution, this involved less strategy and more hack-n-slash, but the gist was familiar.

It all built up to a fight with a big mechanical spider. I could attack legs or the central head, but neither gave me much visual or audio feedback as to which plan was preferred, so I have no idea if my success took longer or shorter than usual. Something about the flow of this game felt off. It’s one of those things I’m not a good enough word smith to explain — especially not when I’m trying to crank things out as fast as possible. It was fun, but it wasn’t hitting that sweet spot I’ve become so accustomed to with Valkyria.

Maybe, after something like 400 hours spent with the previous games, this new system was bound to feel strange? On paper, it shouldn’t be a problem, but in my hands, the flow of the action felt too jerky. I say this while realizing, of course, the stop-and-go style is part of what makes the Valkyria trilogy of strategy RPGs unique and fun in the first place.

Even though I mowed down goons and then killed a big boss, the fight and result didn’t bring the satisfaction that often comes with that — and, as always, we have to say that this could be an issue between me and the game or a byproduct of it just being a demo. Sorry if you get tired of me saying stuff like that about trade show demos, but it needs to be pointed out.

Overall, I leave Tokyo Game Show feeling good about Valkyria: Azure Revolution, but not great. Appearing on PS4 and Vita, it’s expected to hit Japan in January of next year, but doesn’t yet have an official release date outside of its home country. 

I played the PS4 version and didn’t notice the Vita version at the show, so I can’t compare performance.