Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Porting to PC from the PS4, Dark Rose Valkyrie makes an appearance to fight off the monsters called chimera in a JRPG brought to you by Compile Heart. Although DRV has an enjoyable story, characters, and battle system, the harshness of the port to PC just hits so much harder.
To be perfectly blunt before we begin, I wasn’t able to make it too far into the game for a number of reasons. The major reason being the grotesque frame rate drop that was almost always occurring. I think the best rate I had was around 20 FPS, and the worst felt like 4. I also had a bunch of crashes, usually occurring just after having beaten a boss, which was infuriating enough that I almost flipped at least two tables. The game itself is pretty good, but until the PC version gets a patch to improve the frame/crash rate, I can only recommend picking it up on PS4 if you’re really that interested in it.
Now, PC port aside, I found the game rather enjoyable. Like a mash-up of Omega Quintet battle system and Agarest’s leveling system, one thing I’m always pleased about with Compile Heart games is the fact that they’re always willing to tweak their standard combat or game-flow mechanics, which they’ve shown in Dark Rose Valkyrie once again.
The story is, for the most part, rather cliché: a meteor caused mutations in living things, turning them into monsters, and you need to fight against them. In order to combat the mutant “chimera”, a team is assembled with your main character heading the team as the captain, for no real discernible reason. Along with your improbably female cast of teammates (at a ratio of 5 to 2), you are off to beat up some monsters and save the human race!
Game flows between spending time in your main base chatting with your teammates and upgrading your gear and purchasing bonuses with your medals you earn from completing missions, and heading out into the wilderness to explore dungeons and beat up beasties.
As is pretty standard fair for Compile Heart games, you’ll be wandering around a free roam style world/dungeon map, slapping enemies (or getting slapped) to initiate a quasi-turn based combat system. In battle you have an active gauge that will have character and enemy tokens progress up at a rate dependent on speed. Once a character or enemy hits a certain point, they can decide on an action to perform. Each action, whether it be a special move, a normal combo, or using an item, has a “combat level” value. These values determine how much further up the gauge a token has to progress before the action is performed, adding an interesting additional strategy portion to the combat, as enemy turns can get delayed while they are being attacked.
Combos are able to be edited, and there are a wide amount of moves to choose from in order to build your combos, each of which have distance values and level values that determine range and combo strength respectively. It’s a fairly standard battle system, although it has a lot of additional functions that you may need to keep track of, as each combo move can have both an element and attack type, so you need to pay attention in case you keep smacking fire/blunt resistant enemies with the attacks they can just sit there and scoff at. Some monsters also have breakable parts, which you can break to slow down or prevent enemy attack skills, or to provide a weakness for you to exploit.
One of the “selling features” of DRV is the interview system, where you try and determine who the (presumed) randomly decided traitor is, through conducting a series of interviews, and picking out which of your team members is the betrayer. As far as I can tell, the traitor is determined mostly by your actions and interactions, so the traitor may not always be the same every time you play. While an interesting concept, I didn’t really feel the interview was a really big draw, and more like a detective mini-game added in to break up the monotony. Because yes, the game will get pretty repeatable after a while, simply running to places to pick up items or beat up monsters for side missions, then going to beat up a larger monster, then back to the small monsters over and over.
While the semi-active nature of the combat system helps keep this at bay, it still gets extremely repetitive rather quick, and monsters become more of a nuisance than anything else. Thankfully, Compa has thrown in an auto-battle option, that will choose the “best fit” actions to get you through a battle, which is really nice when you accidentally get into a battle with enemies less than half your level.
In traditional Compile Heart fashion, you’ll be able to recognize the music and sprawling landscape designs if you’ve ever played a previous Compile Heart title, as the music tends to be remastered versions of songs from previous titles. On the plus side, at least they use all the best songs to remaster, so the soundtrack is enjoyable. The graphics, unfortunately, look like they’ve been ported from a Vita, with no upscaling whatsoever. In other words, the graphics are, comparatively, pretty bad. The character mouth movements are weird and nonsensical, and occasionally the world map camera will pan out to a bird’s eye view that keeps you from seeing anything halfway decently, particularly if they’re hiding in the fracking trees.
Occasionally I found the music to be choppy during cut-scenes, although the voice overs would still flow smoothly, and while I appreciate not forcing a player to go in-depth into reading every single last bit of info on the battle system, some explanation for key actions should probably be left in. On the plus side, all the main characters are pretty unique, and I didn’t really dislike any of them, which is pretty rare for me.
Overall, I’m forced to say that the PC port specifically is way to subpar to be anything other than “disappointing” in its current state. While the combat, characters, and slightly darker-than-usual Compa plotline is engaging, the egregiously awful frame rate kills any motivation I have to play Dark Rose Valkyrie for any period of time longer than twenty minutes per sitting. If you have a PS4, please go check it out on that instead, and you won’t be disappointed.