Developed by Media.Vision, Valkyria Revolution is the first title in the Valkyria series to release in western markets since Valkyria Chronicles II launched on PSP back in 2010. Including the obscure and short-lived Japan-only mobile game Valkyria Chronicles D, Revolution is the fifth overall entry in the series. It is considered a spin-off and in many ways seen as a fresh start for a series that has fallen on hard times after the first game brilliantly charmed gamers around the world. Revolution, however, fails to deliver, further plunging the series into uncertainty.

The game is set in an alternate timeline, a century before the events of Valkyria Chronicles. It tells a familiar story that centers on a group of individuals kick-starting a revolution in the name of freedom and revenge. The story is told via a conversation between a teacher and a student, a neat decision by the developers. Though it feels predictable sometimes, the story is pretty decent. The execution, however, is a different affair.

The cut-scenes totally drag everything down. They are painfully long and the character animations are lifeless and lazy. It doesn't help that the game is littered with annoying loading times between cut-scenes, which hurts the transition. The new batch of characters also fails to leave a mark. Revolution follows after Valkyria Chronicles II by producing a roster full of archetypical characters that range from mildly interesting to downright forgettable. If you hated the characters in the second game, Revolution won't do a better job at keeping you from feeling the same way.

The hubs that you visit between missions are one of the very few highlights in Revolution. Featuring a fantasy aesthetic with a dash of steampunk, the towns feel alive and sophisticated. Though the anime-styled character designs feel somewhat off in a Valkyria setting, the locations fit right in. The buildings and architectures are nicely done, which makes you feel that Revolution is indeed part of the Valkyria series. The soundtrack, composed by Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears), is also another positive. Though it sounds different compared to the soundtrack in the first three Valkyria titles, it does a good job at bringing out the tension and drama in Revolution, making cut-scenes slightly more bearable.

Since Revolution is a spin-off, it makes sense for Media.Vision to shake things up and do something new that will set it apart from other series entries. The biggest change is in the combat system. The tactical turn-based gameplay seen in the first three main installments is gone, replaced by an action-oriented gameplay typically seen in action-RPG titles. The game still incorporates strategy elements, which actually hurt the whole thing. It feels like it was trying to play it safe instead of going all-out with the real-time action-focused gameplay. The developers probably did that to give Revolution a sense of familiarity. But if they were going for something different, they should have gone for a complete overhaul.

Similar to previous Valkyria main titles, Revolution features a squad system with main protagonist Amleth at the center. You can only control one character at any given time on the battlefield. But you can switch between squad members. You can set the behavior of AI-controlled allies to make them prioritize doing specific actions out on the field. For example, you can make them focus squarely on attacking all enemies in sight or act as a support and attend to wounded allies. However, don't rely on AI-controlled allies to consistently do what you told them to prioritize. Oftentimes, you will find them doing questionable actions such as running off to areas filled with enemies or going in the opposite direction of the goal. The AI isn't exactly the brightest when it comes to making decisions, so don't bank on them too much for assistance.

The enemies in Revolution are a joke. The regular ones look bland and repetitive and will hardly put up a fight to stop you from reaching the boss waiting at the end of most missions. You can easily hack and slash your way through missions without any sense of strategy and without the help of AI-controlled allies. The enemies aren't really aggressive, making it way too easy to walk up to them and bash them with a melee weapon, which many characters possess by default. The lack of difficulty somewhat makes all the other gameplay mechanics obsolete, which is a shame. The familiar class system is present in Revolution but it's not as engaging as the class systems in previous Valkyria titles. Even Valkyria Chronicles II had a good class system. The returning Potentials mechanic, a unique buff/debuff system introduced in the first game, also falls flat and is hardly necessary to get through missions.

Overall, the gameplay in Revolution is a mess and feels like the developers only gave a half-hearted effort into making it different. Well, actually, the same thing can be said for the entire game. It's like Sega no longer knows what to do with the series, which got off to an excellent start with Valkyria Chronicles in 2008. The company should have fully committed to giving the series a clean slate instead of having one foot in the past. Revolution suffers because it doesn't know what it is. It doesn't have a clear direction on where it wants to go. The switch to a more action-oriented gameplay is terribly done and feels inferior to other similar titles in the genre. Though the story is good, the lackluster character animations and the stupidly long cut-scenes prevent it from being great.

If you're looking for a good action-RPG on PS4, Xbox One, or PS Vita, don't expect Revolution to deliver. There are lots of better action-RPG titles out there. Actually, if you really want to play a Valkyria title again, you can check out the remastered version of Valkyria Chronicles on PS4 instead. It blows Revolution out of the water despite being an older game. There is no other reason to buy Revolution other than to show support for the series and Sega. Hopefully, Sega doesn't give up on the series. Valkyria deserves another shot at redemption.