There has always been something that has drawn me to the JRPG genre, it has always been a style of video game that has always brought absolute joy to my heart. The many different, imaginative worlds you visit, the cast of characters, the tales that are being tod and let’s not forget the certainty of being lost in the gameplay with all the sidequests that can cause you to lose days at a time. Dark Rose Valkyrie sadly however didn’t give me the pitter patter in my stomach I normally get from these offerings from Japan. Developed by Compile Heart and published by The Idea Factory along with collaborative efforts from some of those responsible for the ‘Tales Of’ series which only helped pique my interest in the first place, but after a few hours of grinding my way through the variety of Chimera on offer and creating a squadron to be reckoned with I found myself being positively whelmed (tipping more towards the under rather than the over).

Set in an alternate reality of Japan where a meteorite known as The Black Garnet hit the earth unleashing a virus through the world known as the Chimera which causes people to turn into horrific and dangerous beasts. You take the role of Asahi, a rookie captain placed in charge of Special Force Valkyrie, a team responsible for the eradication of the Chimera Race.

On the outside looks and feels kind of dated. The places you visit through the course of the game can feel a little weak and void of any kind of life or character with rendering hat hold all the features of a world of cardboard particularly while in the midst of battle, there are other times where you will find a colourful and almost vibrant surrounding but those times come few and far between. The overworld map you find yourself in between as you make your way to dungeons and missions also does itself no favours with a closed in, semi birds eye perspective, defying the already claustrophobic streets of any richness and breadth, and the constant barriers that block your way (especially in the opening hours of the game) brings the endless feel of the world crashing down faster than you can say ‘I wonder what’s over there’. Despite this, Dark Rose Valkyrie boasts a cast of characters that are as colourful in appearance as they are in disposition, and trust me you soon get to know with the extensive cutscenes and conversation segments which takes up a hell of a lot of the introductory parts of the game. The music on display in Dark Rose Valkyrie for the lack of a better work, awesome, from the opening song the in-game compositions helping battle feel more dynamic and epic and the story segments feel intense. Sadly some of the sound effects in the game don’t work well alongside the soundtrack , the strikes and clashes of battle sound and feel weak and the sound of Asahi huffing and panting while running through the overworld just comes across as bothersome, I can see where they are going with it because after all he is only human but it lacks subtlety.

Dark Rose Valkyries gameplay is reasonable if not a bit awkward and cluttered. Along with the plethora of conversational segments that stop you from actually playing comes an even more consistent overabundance of tutorial pages that just seem like they go on endlessly. The battle system is my favourite part of the game, with character and enemy attack slots being displayed at the side of the screen in a sort of conveyor belt kinda……thing! very reminiscent of Final Fantasy X in all honesty. Attacks come in 4 different power levels with the more powerful moves taking longer to execute giving the game a strategic value. Enemies are seen roaming in your surroundings with your reaction to them being key, striking them will result in a pre-emptive strike (a feat n itself due to the poor hit detection) or an ambush if your foe should strike you first, but when the stars align blowing the Chimera away with 100 hit combos with dazzling moves with your ridiculously oversized weapons is tremendously satisfying. Different types of enemies appearing depending on the time of day and the type of moon is out is also a nice touch if a little bit derivative but is also a huge part in completing the various missions to complete. The missions make playing through this game feel more like a chore than an experience, a certain amount must be completed before progressing through the story and can be very rinse and repeat. Every now and then Dark Rose Valkyrie stops being a strategic J-RPG and suddenly becomes Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and in impressive style as well. Every now and then you must out a traitor in your squad by taking statements from members of the squadron and compiling your own evidence the sudden brief shift in genre brings more food for thought to this adventure and you know what? It’s not bad.

A PlayStation 4 Review Code was provided by Idea Factory