Valhalla Knights 3: Half-hearted In Everything But Fanservice

By Kris . October 16, 2013 . 11:29am

Fanservice is prevalent in Valhalla Knights 3. It’s the kind of game that, when you go into the options menu to increase the painfully slow unfurling of text in the unvoiced cutscenes, you’re greeted with six toggles to choose what kind of panties you want the shop clerks to wear, which you’ll see if you spend enough money and play the screen-touching “Sexy Time” minigame (each successive section of which involves the clerk in question (all female, mind you) removing a layer of their store-specific uniform).

 

Now, bear in mind that outside of Sexy Time, which can net you items that sell for a lot of gold and improve your relationship with the clerk (which culminates in you taking them to a seedy hotel), there’s basically no advantage to using them. Regardless of which clerk you hire or how much they charge for their services, you’ll still get the same shop or quest menu that you’d get if you went down to the slums and used the shops that don’t require you to hire a clerk beforehand.

 

Valhalla Knights 3 is the kind of game that doesn’t even bother with putting as much as a blinking or lip flap animation into its characters’ masklike faces, making cutscenes with dramatic zooms come off as ridiculous. However, it somehow managed to accommodate jiggle physics.

 

In Valhalla Knights 3, you watch a woman in your group of prisoners get dragged away by two men to somewhere she can “make use of her assets”. She’s shortly thereafter revealed to be the newest clerk at the local guild, which one of your compatriots easily mistakes for a brothel. She doesn’t seem too put off by her new employment, though, and she even forgives you for letting her get dragged off to what seemed to be certain doom.

 

The face of tragedy.

 

Why did I start this playtest by talking about fanservice? Because outside of that, Valhalla Knights 3 is rather unremarkable. Knowing that the game was set in a prison that’s entirely under prisoners’ control, I decided to put together a character who looked like a generic thug from an ‘80s anime (which didn’t work quite as well when the game tried to shove a tragic backstory onto him). Because of his scars and tattoos and the prison background, I figured it would be fun to make him an “Akatoki,” a fist fighter whose first weapon basically looked like two slabs of brick strapped to his hands. I was excited, ready to take my grizzled criminal into a gritty world full of violence and treachery.

 

 

But that wasn’t exactly what I got. Aside from the fact that you’re not really a criminal (which is revealed in a matter of minutes), the plot is set up in such a way that every evil act that your character might perform won’t be his or her fault, and instead of trying to survive in a brutal prison, you’re looking for a mythical treasure that’s supposedly hidden in the prison and can grant any wish. On top of that, the prison is so laid back, that aside from the initial kidnapping that I mentioned earlier and the rare fight in a shop, it’s basically like a town in any other RPG.

 

You’ve got a store that sells weapons and items, a guild where you can create new characters for your seven-person party and accept and report quests (typically kill so many of a certain enemy or collect a certain amount of an enemy drop item), and a place where you can change your characters’ faces and sexes—basically the exact same things sans-clerks in the lower slums of the prison, and one priest who will charge you a lot of money to revive your dead party members or get rid of whatever afflictions might ail you (including the particularly nasty “Money Pit,” which bleeds money and once left me just short of the cost of treatment and forced me to run down to the slums and sell my armor to afford it).

 

Combat typically takes place outside of the prison walls in a field that looks much more open than it actually is. The outside world is populated by clans of prisoners, but, much like your clan, they only appear as one person wandering the map before you engage them in contact. Your lead character controls nearly the same in and out of combat, with X acting as a main attack button, triangle working as a parry or special attack (unless you’re an archer, in which case your ability to aim carefully is disabled out of combat), and circle acting as a dash attack that be cancelled into an attack (proper timing of this dash-attack-dash-attack-dash-attack will become your main form of movement outside of the city). Kill an enemy before their friends appear with a “back attack” and you’ll be rewarded with extra experience points.

 

Should you engage an enemy clan, things get a little more busy. Everyone is out on the battlefield at once and you can swap from member to member with select. However, since you only really have two orders on the battlefield that can only be performed by your main character (attack and defend), large scale combat is kind of a free-for-all. I found that instead of going from character to character using special attacks, simply choosing your physically strongest character and going from enemy to enemy killing them made things a lot faster and less painful, since your AIs wouldn’t exactly take care of themselves if you left them to their own devices for too long.

 

You can adjust your battle formation from the pause menu, but since you can’t pause in battle, that doesn’t exactly lend itself to on the fly strategizing. Each class has a different skill tree that allows you a bit of diversity, and building up your party into a killing machine is fun (as is taking on subclasses for more skills), but my Akatoki’s skills were slower and weaker than his regular punches and I wanted more control over how my party acted as a unit. Attempts to strategize against bosses eventually just led to me assigning my entire team healing items or grinding until I could muscle my way through. It’s a shame, because the large parties could have led to something much more engaging than just running in and pressing X over and over with the right timing(which do lead to experience bonuses, which is nice).

 

One of the frustrating things about Valhalla Knights 3 is how it’s on the verge of being better. Combat has some interesting ideas but almost reduces to mashing X if you’re using a melee character. The idea of an RPG set inside a prison is interesting, but it’s basically just a village with more skimpy uniforms. It seems like the only thing that it follows through on is fan service.

 

Food for Thought:

 

1. Load times in Valhalla Knights 3 are very long, often in situations where they shouldn’t be, such as one lengthy load time for a character introducing you to their store and another for the store itself, where the previous scene that was just that environment, one character and a text box.

 

2. Because money was sparse, I found myself taking the early “Kill 30 Rabbits” quest with a 3000 gold reward over and over again. I don’t even want to think about how many damn rabbits I must have killed in my first few hours.


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  • KuroNathan

    Hmm, I haven’t played the previous VH games but it sounds like this one has a marked decrease in quality, while the previous games were described as being generic fantasy games at least it was something outside of fanservice the rpg

  • mockturtle

    I’m kind of surprised, this looked pretty good in the videos. It also looked to be more interesting than its predecessors. I guess looks can be deceiving.

    At any rate, glad I didn’t preorder. If I ever pick it up, it’ll be in the bargain bin.

  • Balalaika

    Besides the fanservice (which was pointless and not that good) the game really was boring and generic, there are so many good japanese games on the Vita that are not receiving ports I’m surprised that this game did get a release outside of japan, I played for a few hours and I honestly don’t want to continue it.

  • Perona

    Got the first one for free and while it isn’t great I am enjoying it for what it is. Will buy the second one eventually and also get this.

  • chibidw

    I’m still baffled by what drives XSeed to continue their semi-religious localization of this series of games. The games have never managed to successfully leave mediocreville, and their time would be better spent translating higher quality RPGs.

    Thankfully since Carpe Fulgur is handling the Trails SC translation for XSeed, no serious harm was done, but still – I would have rather had a chance to try out Mind = Zero, Meikyuu Cross Blood, or Zero no Kiseki rather than a series that has already been proven to be genericland.

    • malek86

      I’d imagine that they sell. At least, more than it costs to localize them.

      • Pdugna

        Yeah but would not mind trying Mind=0 lol

    • mockturtle

      Something tells me that there’s some sort of contractual agreement that forces them to do so. I can’t imagine they’re big sellers, but they keep putting them out here. It’s like how NISA was forced to localize Last Rebellion (am I thinking of the right game?) due to contract issues.

      I agree their investments could be better placed elsewhere, but for the most part the rest of their track record is stellar.

    • FitzpatrickPhillips

      They do it because they sell. That’s all there is to it. Just cause you don’t like something doesn’t mean it doesn’t bring in cash. “They can just localize something I’m interested in and make even more money” isn’t really logical.

      • chibidw

        You’re going to have to explain that line of thinking to me. *Clearly* they’re going to do something because it sells, that’s basic business anything.

        But repeatedly bringing inferior products to the market is not GOOD business practice, either. No business wants to deliberately hamstring their sales.

        But going back for a second.. where did I make any sort of connection between my not liking it and their sales to even begin with? The only thing I’ve said is that the portable VK series is thoroughly average in the best of cases, and there are far more interesting RPGs that we could have gotten instead.

    • TheExile285

      Marevlous AQL owns both the IP and XSEED. Also, what FitzpatrickPhillips said below.

    • Prungy

      The main reason that XSEED is bringing this series over is because it’s from Marvelous, which is their Japanese parent company.

  • Brimfyre

    All the pictures I’ve seen of this, the hostesses all look like aliens and horribly unattractive. Is there any way to make them look someone attractive?

    If that is the games major selling point it seems like they would look a little better.

  • Varnes

    Well it’s a good thing i rented this and didn’t buy it, oh well if i like it i can get it cheap but this has made me feel less optimistic

  • Go2hell66

    Has there ever been a good valhalla knights game? Looks like that trend wont be changing any time soon

    • DAT Bird From DAT Cage

      No idea why the good folks at XSeed decided to spend their precious time and resources to localize this game.

      A waste of fine resources.

      I’m sure that a few of their staff must have voiced their objections during weekly Friday meetings against bringing this title over.

      • Xerain

        With all the press coverage the fan service elements garnered, it will probably move enough copies to be profitable.

        • DAT Bird From DAT Cage

          Its most probably due to the fact that here simply aren’t that many PSVita titles on the table to be localized.

          Lots of titles came out this year and some will come out at the end of this year… lets hope that this mean next year we’ll see potential PSV titles like Extreta. Mind-0, as some reviewers have said, has a really unfinished and bad ending. What other PSV JRPGs are out there?

          • Warboss Aohd

            an’ Over My Dead Body 2.

          • Strid

            MIND≒0 is a fine game regardless, but then again I game for far greater reasons than story.

          • rekka_zan

            XSEED really should just localize Akiba Strip 2.

          • Juan Andrés Valencia

            There aren’t many Vita RPG’s but we do have tons of VN’s. Most of which are probably better than this game (I’ve only played the first one and it’s bland).

      • Kumiko Akimoto

        Probably because they can play a game without getting excited or huffy over a game.
        The game is probably decent enough to where it’ll generate a fanbase much like nis and time and enterty if nothing else it was innovate in trying to create fluid sprites

    • brian

      I do remember seeing some (actually only) positive reviews of VK2 but haven’t played it personally.

      • icurafu

        VK2 was ok if you had the digital release. The fixed a bunch of problems with the gameplay, like travelling. The problem being that most reviews came from the original UMD game.

    • Lucky Dan

      extremely grindy, I find it fine but I ain’t gonna say get this game over any other game from the past.

  • http://epiclyamazing.wordpress.com/ AzureNova

    That title, and this article made me LOL. I love you Siliconera lol ^_^

    “The face of tragedy”

    XD

  • http://www.gamefaqs.com/features/recognition/21421.html?type=4 Kashell

    I never bothered with the VK series, and I doubt I ever will. The games just don’t seem fun.

    • http://s1.zetaboards.com/Espada_of_Alexandria/index/ konpon568

      Don’t seem fun? Boy/Girl, it’s as if the creators did not even try! Everything looks like an upscaled PSX game with bare bones hack ‘n slash mechanics. Only, this game seems like it went a few steps behind what they aimed for with Battle Stance! Literally, they just betted it all on the Fanservice and most resources seemed to have solely fallen on the Jiggle Physics Engine.

  • Shippoyasha

    They should just make a purely fanservice driven game if that is what they are good at. I think they may be behind even compile hearts in terms of making a solid core RPG. There is no shame in specializing in fanservice if that is your niche.

    • http://twitter.com/puchixseda puchinri

      Agreed. That’s what irritates me. Companies that strive for fanservice should just drop pretenses and do that (though, they should still provide some solid experience as far as controls, etc).

  • KanjiLikesBoys

    I downloaded the first game because it was being offered for free on the PSN and…JFC. I scrubbed that disease from my Vita’s memory within a day! Just horrible on every level

  • Red Veron

    I’ll pick this up when it’s cheap and will recreate my loli army from what I’ve done in the previous games. Everyone who wants an action RPG on Vita, get Ys Celceta instead.

    • Ferrick

      it doesn’t have a set release date yet though

      • Chido55

        Supposed to be in November?

        • Ferrick

          sadly no, i’ve asked xseed and they said that date is only a retail placeholder

  • Sentsuizan_93

    Oooh! So close from being decent, yet so far. I don’t mind fan service, as long as it’s done well, but it sounds like the fanservice in VK3 feels forced in a sense. Jiggle physics can only get you so far… -_-
    Looks like I might give this a miss.

  • Kumiko Akimoto

    >Reads this review
    >Buys the game prepares for lots of fanservice
    >Gets american level of fanservice that would make senran kagura laugh
    >Stops reading reviews that don’t focus on things entirely on things that actually impact gameplay

    • sherimae1324

      i like you now ^_^

  • Juan Manuel M. Suárez

    It’s a cheap dungeon crawler but you know what? Fanservice or not it gets the job done: it gets you hooked up on the never ending cycle of questing -> getting loot -> progressing rinse and repeat. The graphics are OK-ish. But that’s fine, not every game needs to be a KZM and last I checked, nobody complains about the graphics of the 3DS~.

    If you want to play the sexism card, that’s fine. But I don’t see anyone dissing Senran Kagura, DoA and all the other games plagued by fanservice. It’s just a game and if you get off the high horse, it’s actually decent enough to dish out 50+ hours on it~.

    • TheExile285

      What exactly does 3DS have to do with this? 3DS is a weaker and cheaper system and people DO ***** when 3DS games don’t have perfect graphics *cough*RuneFactory4*cough* When compared to other Vita games, visually this game looks like garbage.

      Also, people DO whine about Seran Kagura, DoA, Dragons Crown and every other fanservicy game that gets made like its the end of the world. I don’t know how you could ever think they don’t.

      Finally, this a play-test. Meaning its the writer’s opinion. You don’t agree with it, that is fine, but don’t go crucifying other people because of that.

      • Juan Manuel M. Suárez

        Nobody crucified anyone. I stated my opinion, much like the person behind the play test did. If they don’t care about people’s opinions then they should probably disable comments~.

      • ShadowDivz

        I loled when you said “like it’s the end of the world”
        Because it’s true. xD

        Also, this is like the 3rd time you’ve mispelled Senran Kagura. Just saying.

        • TheExile285

          Lol I thought it was Seran. Never noticed the N. Thanks.

          • ShadowDivz

            No problem. But with the way people bag on. You really would think fanservice was the end of the world. xD

  • Learii

    this is like MH or RO right? where you tap to attacks?

  • leingod

    Previous games in the series were already unremarkable… so I’m hardly inclined to get it even if it has fan service. And I’m all for fan service.

  • ShadowDivz

    Wait the faces don’t have blinking animations? That sound REALLY creepy.

    I mean, they just continuously stare at you…..never blinking…

    • Skeptika Crediblus

      At least they don’t stare AND shake like these turkeys did. They creeped me the hell out.

  • Ni ~UNREAL BLACK THINGS~

    i’m still surprised that this franchise got it’s third installment

    • http://youtube.com/miyabigaming 禍津水木

      I’ll try it if it goes on PSN plus

      • Ni ~UNREAL BLACK THINGS~

        same by me. or if it is less than 10 bucks.

  • new_tradition

    Now my question is if there’s any kind of fanservice for me?

    Can I create a female and find some hosts to wrap around my pinky? Or can I make a guy and create some epic bromances? :3

    • AFatHouseCat

      Nope, no fan service for anyone not interested in ladies, but to be honest the male models are pretty bland, edging on down right ugly, and sometimes crossing the ugly barrier and going into creepy sex offender territory. I don’t really want fanservice from any of the guys I’ve seen in-game so far. Even my own character.

    • Skeptika Crediblus

      if that’s what you’re into, there are male (and one or two transexuals) characters to recruit, but…

  • sakusakusakura_nyo

    I bought this game and I really like it!

  • cyberkinghardy

    I don’t know why everyone hates this game but, I salute xseed for doing this. They should have started localizing Trails in the Flash instead of wasting their time on Trails in the Sky SC. Freaking PSP game.

  • Croix Zapp

    Well, looks like i will get atelier instead

  • Nickie

    Despite the nay-sayers I am happy and proud to have this in my collection. I hope there are future titles and they improve on the flaws that yes it does have but I will still continue to get them if localized. Thank you Xseed, thank you.

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