Dark Rose Valkyrie is Compile Heart’s latest IP and, as a big fan of the studio, I’m happy to say that I like what they’ve done with this game. Similar to Omega Quintet in that it boasts a darker story in a world with a dwindling population, Dark Rose Valkyrie is another grand JRPG where you’re on a world-saving mission.
When a virus from a mysterious meteorite, the Black Garnet, starts infecting the human mind and body, they’re turned into the grotesque Chimera. With 3% of the total world population lost to the Chimera Virus and rising, a team dubbed the Special Force Valkyrie is created to quash this threat. You play as new captain Asahi Shiramine as he brings the team together to become a force to be reckoned with, but there’s discourse due to a traitor amongst your ranks… oh, your team members have split personalities too, making it even harder to choose who might be betraying you all.
You need to earn the trust of your teammates by answering their questions correctly, but I’m not certain on if this plays into who the traitor during your playthrough is. You’ll be tasked with interviewing each squad member as you progress through the game, finding contradictions in what they say to confirm if they’re telling the truth or not. Similarly to Lost Dimension, the traitor changes with each playthrough.
Dark Rose Valkyrie is turn-based and you can have a party of four – each with their own support character – to take into battle with you. You pick an action to perform and by using the bar on the top left of the screen, you can see which attack is deemed to be more powerful. However, selecting the stronger attacks means waiting longer for them to be put into action, so there’s a layer of strategy as enemies play by the same rules as you do — sometimes it’s best to go in and mop up quickly as waiting for an action to be performed leaves you open to attack. You can use special skills, items or choose to defend or withdraw too.
You can distribute stat points that each character earns individually, and they tend to be naturally skewed to certain builds. Some are best with firearms, some excel at melee attacks and others shine brightest when using magic. All characters earn experience regardless of who is participating in battle, but actually handing the points out can be a drag if multiple characters level up at once.
The game will force you to complete an abundance of side-quests before it allows you to continue on with the main game, and these generally consist of fetch quests or defeating specific enemies — it can be a bit dull and is clearly there to pad out the game, despite it being lengthy without the multitude of side content. Navigating the world map and working out exactly what the game wants you to do can be a frustrating experience, too.
Compile Heart are content with not squeezing much power out of the PS4, but their character models have certainly improved over the years. Whilst the 2D artwork and character designs are something I can’t fault, the sometimes bland environments and unstable framerate can be a tad disappointing — this game isn’t technically impressive enough to warrant some highly notable framerate drops, and it’s questionable as to why they weren’t smoothed out more. Although far from a bad looking game, Dark Rose Valkyrie proves that Compile Heart need to update their engine so that their games run better, at the very least.
Dark Rose Valkyrie features a solid dub cast with the likes of Erik Kimerer, Laura Post, Erica Mendez, Cherami Leigh and Cristina Vee lending their voices to the game, and they’re pleasant to listen to. The soundtrack is a good effort that might not reach the highs of previous Compile Heart games, but it matches the games darker atmosphere well — of course, there are a few more upbeat tracks because despite how bleak the situation is, the characters do sometimes enjoy having a good laugh amongst each other’s company.
Dark Rose Valkyrie is another ambitious game from the team at Compile Heart and whilst its characters and story are engaging, its emphasis on tiresome side-quests and vague directions don’t do much bar tarnish the experience — this has been an issue in Omega Quintet too. Compile Heart create wonderful JRPGs and new IP which I’m thankful for, but I’d like for them to work on letting the player tackle the game how they want, rather than being forced to complete repetitive side content with no relevance to the main plot before they’re able to continue. Dark Rose Valkyrie is an enjoyable game if you can wade through its faults though, and I’m looking forward to what Compile Heart do next.