Mobile gatcha RPG games have secured their place in our daily lives, and with good reason. The sub-genre really fits well on the mobile platform, being easily accessible, portable, and rewarding despite being played in short bursts. Nothing beats convenience!
Valkyrie Connect is a mobile gatcha RPG by Ateam Inc. The game focuses on acquiring and upgrading heroes as you and your party fight battle after battle in an attempt to save the world from an impending calamity. I was a bit skeptical at first, since it was similar to the other gatchas on my phone at the time, but I decided to give it a try anyway and I hoped to see something new. The intro cinematic was rather impressive. If one would judge solely through first impressions, then I would end up thinking that I've stumbled across some hidden AAA title on my phone.
Valkyrie Connect is just what you would expect from a regular gatcha game. It's grindy and has a gratuitous amount of content that is either unlocked through charitable effort or premium currency. With that said, what exactly does it do to differentiate itself from a sea of attention seeking gatcha games? Let's find out.
Save the World
The main story is mediocre at best, with you acting as the wielder of a legendary dagger that grants you the ability to summon various heroic beings. It's this cookie cutter narrative that often deters me from taking gatcha game storylines seriously, and Valkyrie Connect showed it from the get-go. I can't stress enough how many times I have been dubbed as some hero of legend in every gatcha game I've played, like the writers are taking pointers from Evony Online (Come here, Mi'lord). At least they managed to incorporate the gatcha mechanic in the story via the dagger, so I guess I can give them points for that.
Aiding your cause will be the Valkyrie, Skuld, who will act as your guide as you make your way through epic encounters while progressing through the main storyline. Other than its default cookie cutter story, the game's Hero Quests is where Valkyrie Connect's storytelling truly shines. These lengthy quests are unlocked every time you get a new hero, be it through the main storyline or gatcha rewards.
Every hero has their own story to tell in the form of side missions, complete with RPG-ish text dialogue in between. Hero Quests also reward you with some materials needed to upgrade your hero, so be sure to do them. It's as good and effective way of diverting one's attention from the overarching storyline, and fleshes out the many characters you'll encounter on your journey.
Valkyrie Connect has various in-game currencies to work with. In fact, I've yet to see a game that actually sports these many forms of currency before. Each are acquired through various instances, with some being attained via guild activity, while others through selling your weapons and beating the heck out of monsters. It's a bit overwhelming at first, but one that's easy to understand as you play further. Diamonds serve as a the premium currency in-game, and will give you a higher chance of getting rarer items from gatcha pulls.
Gameplay - 7/10
Valkyrie Connect's diverse story mode and character events are very straightforward. You'll be presented with various board game style maps with tiles representing encounters and lore. The encounters are basically battle missions, while lore focuses on story narration and character dialogue. Some encounters are also graded in the form of 1-3 stars, with rewards depending on how many heroes on your party survive each battle or how many of the special conditions you have sated upon completion. Once you have bested an encounter, you can use your stamina points to buy out subsequent clears and earn those quest rewards without having to do battle. A very convenient way of lessening the grind, if I may say so myself.
Valkyrie Connect sports a real-time combat system that consists of casting skills and effects while your party auto-attacks. In a nutshell, your party will continue attacking mobs until they fill their charging meter, eventually granting you the option to use their respective skills. These skills vary depending on the Hero you're using, with some dealing lots of damage while others heal and buff your teammates. Limit Bursts act as your coup de grâce, and can either turn the tides of battle or overkill your enemies. Much like character skills, these effects vary depending on the character who activates it. You can also amplify its effects by sporting two or more characters that wield the same skill.
While party composition may not matter in the slightest at the earlier parts of the game, It would be best to create a balanced line-up of tank, healer, and DPS. This will ensure a higher success rate when dealing with harder encounters as well as other players in PvP. One good way to know what characters to take is to navigate through their individuals profiles which effectively showcase their skills, Limit Bursts, and respective voice actors as an added bonus.
Bored of the grind? The game offers the option to speed things up by toggling the x2 speed and auto-battle functions, which hasn't really failed me unless I was terribly undergeared. Like I said—nothing beats convenience!
Other than the regular quests, Valkyrie Connect also has a MMO style raid system in the form of Connect Battles. These encounters pit three parties against a giant boss which would be otherwise impossible to beat when you're on the same level. You can also join other people's Connect Battles by hitting the demon looking marker at the bottom left of your screen when it appears.
If you're tired of PvE, the game also has a PvP system in the form of Arena mode, which is divided into 1-vs-1, 3-vs-3, and the Guild battles. You can also earn rewards and currency by participating in these fights, so be sure to check them out when you can.
Innovation - 6/10
As far as innovation goes, Valkyrie Connect does what every gatcha game does. You will almost always be at the mercy of the luck of the draw, with its inconsistency serving as your main inspiration to play more and grab more characters. The hero quests were a marvelous addition, giving me more time to appreciate my party as individual beings with their own backstory other than just combat fodder.
Learning Curve - 8/10
The learning curve is fairly short. The combat is very easy to grasp, and the game's tutorial covers up a huge chunk of the system with ease. Other than the game's many currencies, as stated earlier, the game has the tendency to overwhelm newcomers when it comes to items and materials, as there are many things to consider when managing loot for your heroes.
Heroes can be upgraded in four ways, namely through Promotion, Leveling up, Gear, and Orbs. Promotion is basically gathering copies of your hero either through gatchas or by participating in that character's Hero Quest. Leveling up is done by spending mana, which is often acquired in hefty amounts, so there's no need to worry about being underleveled. Gear, for the most part, has been self explanatory. It has an option to mend two identical items to form a stronger one while using lesser items as fodder to boost its stats. As for Orbs, you'll get these items as you go along and can also be found in respective Hero quests. Each orb grants additional stats to your character and equipping all the orbs required will boost both their power level and the amount of gear they can use. It gets a bit cumbersome, especially since most of them are segregated by various loading screens, but you'll be familiar with them after a few hours of playing.
Graphics/Sounds - 8/10
The graphics and sounds are not special, but good enough to not be bothersome, sporting cutesy anime 3D models that do well in representing their more detailed artworks. Skills such as Limit Bursts are also represented well, with flashy animations accompanied by satisfying sound effects as well as a good amount of voice acting. Speaking of voice acting, the game has a lot of Japanese voiced sequences, with some characters being dubbed by famous and exceptional voice actors and actresses. While I don't speak the language, hearing such fervor from your team does add to the overall quality of the game, giving it a more premium feel. Also, the soundtrack was very well done, and I've yet to be tired of the game's score.
Value for Money 9/10
Value for money often depends on the player when playing gatcha games. If you want to win fast and get the best lineup, then by all means, buy diamonds! When it comes to feeling like a prestige game, Valkyrie Connect does feel enjoyable enough to warrant a premium purchase. In comparison to the other gatcha games I've played, this one feels a bit more polished, with a gratuitous amount of voice acting. There are a variety of heroes, gear and (of course) events that include famous Japanese pop culture icons like characters from the Fate/Stay Night series and Vocaloid's very own Hatsune Miku. If you're looking to spend some money for a gatcha game, this one is worth a try. It could get a bit repetitive, especially when you're already used to the grind and what it offers, but heck, doesnt every gatcha game do that? If you're not looking to spend, hey! The game is free so knock yourself out!