Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story Review – The Price of Admission

    Title: Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story
    Developer: Agate
    Release Date: October 2, 2018
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: PQube
    Genre: Sim-RPG

I hated high school, so it’s only fitting that I become the new principal of one of the most prestigious academies in the region. I never expected to have the honor of being able to tell students what to do and where to go, but here I am, playing through the Agate developed sim-RPG Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story and having the lives of growing minds in my capable hands.

Although being a principal sounds fun, Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story only briefly touches on the unique systems and mechanics that it introduces. From enrolling new students to sending them off to graduation, there’s only a semi-interesting game loop to the hold the player’s attention. However, the game does have an interesting premise that is worth playing through until the end, but that’s with some bumps along the way.

Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story begins with tragedy, but this opens the opportunity for a new academy to hire you as the principal who will train the best knights. As far as the story goes, there are milestones that the player will need to hit in order to progress the narrative. These story segments mostly revolve around each queen in “Queendom” as they attempt to take the recently vacant throne. Although the story isn’t super important, it is interesting enough to see it through until the end just to see how things end up.

The character illustrations and CGs in the game are well designed. Each of the main characters has an illustrated version of themselves, which are far better than a handful of higher budget titles that I’ve played. Similarly, I thought the character’s chibi 3D models were freaking adorable. Reminiscent of games like Bravely Default, the students at the academy are all just way too adorable, which makes it hard to say goodbye after they graduate.

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The main gameplay loop of Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story revolves around the player accepting students, building and upgrading the academy, and sending students out on quests. Running the academy can be a little confusing at first, but the game’s UI makes it rather easy to access all the options from two different menus. However, I wish the Switch version of the game allowed me to use the touch screen to click on classrooms easily or open menu boxes. This option would make the most sense given the game has a gameplay loop similar to a mobile game.

Throughout the game, new buildings and upgrades will become available. This is where you can customize the layout of the school and add what you want. However, it becomes pretty linear in the sense that the mechanic doesn’t let you really explore unique ways of truly developing your own school. Basically, it doesn’t feel like you’re creating this academy on your own, it only feels like you are hitting the goals that the game has created for the player. With that said, it is still fulfilling to upgrade the buildings and unlock new skills and items while enrolling stronger students. Although it’s possible to randomly interact with classrooms, it can get annoying when you click on one and for the 30th time, you have to decide what to do with the money you found on the floor.

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There is never a shortage of available missions for the players to send the students on. However, some missions require the player to send their students on errands, which is strange because the errands can take upwards of about 30 minutes to finish and there’s no way to speed up time. So, if by chance you send all 3 of your units on one of these errands then you’ll be waiting around for a while the errand to be completed. To be honest, I wish that these missions just didn’t exist at all because the adventure missions are more than enough.

On a normal quest, players control a unit of students and adventure through various maps as they complete the mission. These missions range from a variety of different objectives like killing a number of monsters or finding an item. With that said, there are some more interesting quests that require you to investigate new areas or meet a new character.

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I enjoyed the variety of quests that Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story offers. The game never really feels boring or repetitive due to the game loop where you need to graduate students every semester and so you are constantly enrolling new students that need to be trained. Furthermore, at higher levels, students can take on new roles and classes that make them more unique. Although I will say that after the first milestone there is a pretty high difficulty increase, and a little bit of grinding is necessary to get past some of the Queen’s challenges.

Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story gets much better in the later parts of the game after reaching higher levels. However, it would mean that the player gets over the long grind of a few hours of quests as well as deal with some of the game’s tedious mechanics. You see, when the story kicks into gear and you’re tasked with running errands for the Queens, there’s enough to see it through. Honestly, I didn’t like any of the Queens, so that made my experience a little more personal because I ended up hitting milestones just to see who ends up taking the throne.

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Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story will only be for gamers who have the time to invest in the game’s loop of creating structures and running quests while they say goodbye to their favorite students. The game does the bare minimum of all the mechanics it introduces, but all of them combined offered enough to hold my attention over multiple in-game years. It’s also satisfying to watch your school grow into a huge academy over time.

Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story is a cute academy sim-RPG that offers a lot for the price of admission. The game has so many little systems that aren’t totally executed all the way, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun at times. With a little more execution Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story could have been a better game, but for now, it’s simply an easy to pick up title best played in short bursts, which means it’s great for the Nintendo Switch.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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