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Hands-on

PC Port Impressions: Dark Rose Valkyrie

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It’s only been a month since we played the last Compile Heart release on PC, Cyberdimension Neptunia, but here we are with the port of Dark Rose Valkyrie. Having already disliked Omega Quintet, another PS4 JRPG by Compile Heart brought to the PC late last year, we didn’t have high hopes for this latest port. After playing through the game for around 5 hours, I’m honestly shocked by just how poor a state it has been released in.

The PC port

This had originally been intended to be a full review of Dark Rose Valkyrie. Sure, the game’s story and gameplay aren’t exactly great, but this is something that we expected. What we didn’t expect however is how badly the game performs at all times. Those that have played previous Compile Heart releases on PC have likely come to expect some technical issues here and there, but Dark Rose Valkyrie is by far the worst port yet from a technical standpoint.

The game’s issues are apparent after the opening cutscenes have finished, and you are thrust into battle for the first time. Even with only a handful of characters on the screen at once, the framerate is already wildly inconsistent. Every single battle contains stuttering, something that only gets worse once larger groups of enemies start showing up. Stuttering is also present in the field and is especially noticeable when loading into an area. The framerate drops to sub 20 FPS for a good few seconds before somewhat levelling out, though it never reaches 60 even in less detailed areas.

If framerate issues were the only problem then Dark Rose Valkyrie would at least be playable. However, during our meagre 5 hours with the game we encountered 3 different crashes. For a JRPG that doesn’t allow you to save anywhere, this is a massive problem. We thankfully only lost a relatively small amount of progress overall, but knowing the game could crash at any point really takes away the little enjoyment we had left playing Dark Rose Valkyrie. Will these issues be fixed? The fact that the game was released in this state, along with no mentions of future patches, makes improvements to the port unlikely.

The game

As for our impressions of the short time we spent Dark Rose Valkyrie, it’s not the worst Compile Heart game we’ve played. Set in an alternate universe Japan, the world of Dark Rose Valkyrie is under threat from the Chimera virus that kills and mutates living creatures. Asahi Shiramine is the captain of the newly created Valkyrie Force that can combat the Chimera, though he has little actual battle experience and relies on his “beginners luck”.

The setting and plot is a somewhat serious compared to other Compile Heart titles, though that doesn’t mean there’s no unnecessary fanservice. The clothing break system returns from Omega Quintet, though it makes far less sense here considering the setting and tone of the story. At least there’s no rubbing minigame (as far as we know).

Gameplay is a mixed bag, though combat is far less complicated than Omega Quintet. Each character can create three different combos using moves they unlock after levelling up their stats. Each combo has a level from one to three, higher level combos taking more time to start during battle. Since you don’t have to create these combos during each battle like Omega Quintet combat is noticeably faster, though we still used auto battle and animation skips during regular encounters.

Visually Dark Rose Valkyrie is an improvement on Omega Quintet, though it still looks like a budget PS3 game overall. Character models look noticeable different from the excellent 2D portraits, and environments are incredible bland overall. The constant stuttering during the PC version makes everything look even worse too, especially during battles where the camera is moving all the time.

Conclusion

I honestly cannot recommend this game to anyone in its current state, especially with the lack of any port-launch fixes. Those that really want to play Dark Rose Valkyrie should just pick up the PS4 version that is likely far cheaper than the PC price by now. Hopefully Idea Factory learn from this release, though looking at their track record this will likely just be another broken PC port.

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