Title: Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: April 4, 2019
Reviewed On: iOS
For years, Square Enix has held a special place in my heart as a gamer. They always provide magnificent stories throughout all of their IPs. Regardless of the title, from classics like Chrono Trigger to Final Fantasy XIII, I’ve always found myself to be extremely invested.
This relationship with me and the publisher doesn’t seem to be different after playing their newest free-to-play mobile RPG Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin. I’ll admit now, I haven’t played the original Valkyrie titles, but that hasn’t stopped me from immensely enjoying Square Enix’s latest mobile adventure.
Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin puts the spotlight on its story and characters, and I don’t want to spoil too much for the play with this review. So with that said, you play as the battle maiden Lenneth who Odin (yes, that Odin) tasked with the mission to recruit Einherjars, or fallen heroes, to help stop an unending war.
As I said, the writing in Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin is where the game shines. Throughout the game, players must dive into the memories of deceased heroes to learn more of their tragic, yet heroic, stories. It’s rare for me to find any free-to-play game with this kind of attention to storytelling, let alone care about each character’s background.
For example, there was a young girl who lost her home and family from Vikings who did unthinkable things to the villagers and herself. She sought a famous swordsman who’s fallen into a sort of slump and drinks his days away. At the reluctance of the swordsman, he takes her under his wing and begins to teach her the art of sword fighting to get revenge against the Vikings. One day, the young girl finds the Vikings on her own and decides to take them on herself, which ultimately became her undoing. She expressed her gratitude to the swordsman for allowing her to become his student as her dying words. God, what a rollercoaster of emotions in a matter of minutes.
Once you recruit enough characters, the main story unravels further. What I found extremely cool was that there are opportunities to recruit some special cameo playable characters like NieR: Automata’s 2B, Edward and Alphonse Elric from the Fullmetal Alchemist series, and others. Each of the characters brings their iconic skills and abilities to the game which is a nice incentive for fans of both franchises.
During gameplay, players must move around a grid within the game world, similar to the earlier installments of the Dissidia Final Fantasy series, where you can collect chests and fight off enemies to get closer to recruiting a hero. Combat involves tapping on a character icon and swiping up on them to activate special abilities. However, some strategy comes into play when considering the order and timing you press them.
If you knock out an enemy or if it’s on the floor, a character attacking next could completely whiff (Editor’s note: whiff means miss) their attack. Throughout the battle, a purification meter will slowly fill up if the fight goes on long enough that will allow players to unleash a special devastating attack. If you’ve ever played Capcom’s Project X Zone, fights will feel familiar to you in that sense.
The only gacha elements that come into play have to do with materials and weapons you can gather for your characters. So you don’t have to worry about which character is the best, but you do have to pay attention to how you equip them in order to progress through the game. Luckily, I haven’t run into any major points in the game where I couldn’t beat an enemy. However, I have run into a few deaths or moments where my entire party was almost wiped, but only due to the fact I got trigger happy with tapping and missing some key attacks.
While battle animations look awesome, the same can’t exactly be said of character models during fights or even cutscene drawings. There’s an odd white outline on each of the characters in cutscenes, making them look like they were lazily photoshopped in. It’s almost as if the art direction dates back to the early ’90s RPGs. With that said this could just be a stylistic direction that I just couldn’t find a liking for. Also, I found the UI in menus is a bit cluttered when navigating the menus. There’s just too much going on and it took me a while to learn where everything was and how to do certain things like upgrade items.
Overall, Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin is a welcomed addition to the mobile RPG genre in a crowded market. The story has a way to keep you invested throughout the main story which is full of dramatic moments and memorable characters. The battle system takes some strategy and planning, but I found it to be intuitive and responsive, but I couldn’t really find myself enjoying the retro illustrations as much as some others might.
Regardless, Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin is a fun mobile game that doesn’t force its gacha systems onto the player and the collaborations with other popular IPs will definitely keep me coming back to add stronger characters to my party. I’d highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a mobile RPG that focuses on its writing and character growth, especially if you’re a long time fan of the series.
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