Friday! Video games! Let’s talk!
I’ve been under the weather most of the week, so I’ve only managed to delve into the worlds of Horizon: Zero Dawn and Dark Rose Valkyrie for a few hours. I’m definitely enjoying Horizon more now that I’ve distanced myself from Breath of the Wild for two months. That open-world fatigue hit me pretty hard and it clearly got in the way of things.
I’m roughly 20 hours into Aloy’s adventure, though I’ve just reached Meridian and assisted Erend in his heart-breaking side-quest. I’ve done enough optional content where I feel like I’m severely over-leveled for the story missions, but I can’t help myself from exploring, cleansing corrupted zones, and taking over bandit camps.
The weapons and skills I’ve acquired have been a huge confidence booster as well. I no longer feel the need to tip-toe around robo dinos (though I prefer and am ultimately geared for stealth kills) and haven’t been shy about tackling larger, newer creatures.
Since I haven’t pushed the narrative ahead much, I’m starting to lose focus on Aloy’s motivations and the primary story arc. That’s just par for the course with open-world games, though. I always feel the need to explore and take part in whatever optional activities the developers inserted. I know I don’t have to, but something compels me to at least try it all. I usually grow tired of trials and collectible hunting, so whenever that happens I’ll just put my head down and work my way through the rest of the game. Right now, though, I’m having too much fun.
Dark Rose Valkyrie is a new JRPG on PS4 that I received to review. It’s developed by the folks at Compile Heart, whom you may know from the Neptunia series and Fairy Fencer F, but it’s also a collaboration of sorts with the Tales series’ scenario writer and character designer.
The short of it is that a meteor has crashed into the Earth, which is now spreading a virus that turns humans and animals into monsters called “chimera.” For whatever reason, men are more likely to transform than women. In an attempt to hinder the virus, Japan has built a wall around itself and remains secluded from the rest of the world. They’ve also initiated a special mostly-female task force to combat the existing chimera, called Special Force Valkyrie.
You play as Asahi, a country-boy moving to the big city that’s been hired on to join the National Chimera Defense HQ’s covert military agency ACID. You end up leading the troops from Special Force Valkyrie, but the narrative falls off a cliff within the first 5 hours.
There are some neat ideas within the game, like chatting with your squadmates back at the Ichinomiya Military Base in visual novel segments, but these end up being vapid, unnecessarily verbose experiences that grind the excitement to a halt. Even the turn-based combat is a slog, bogged down with never-ending wall-of-text tutorials that only give you a battle or two to get acclimated before dragging you back through another lengthy dialogue session.
Pacing is extremely important in these meaty JRPGs, but right now that’s where Dark Rose Valkyrie is failing miserably. I don’t feel that I’ve accomplished anything or moved the story along at all over the last five hours. That’s not good. I’m going to press on over the weekend in hopes that it rights the ship, but if the next five hours feel like the first I won’t hesitate to throw in the towel. I’ve heard the game is nearly 40-hours long and I can’t bring myself to endure that kind of punishment.
Outside of playing games, I’m excited for E3 this weekend. I’ve gone ahead and outlined my predictions already, but I’m most curious about Microsoft’s Scorpio reveal. There are rumors floating around that it’ll be a powerful Windows 10 console that not only plays Xbox One games, but PC games purchased in the Windows store. That’d be pretty huge for them. Really, I just want a new Metroid from Nintendo and a new pair of JoyCon that don’t have a shitty fragmented d-pad.
What about you, folks?