Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story 2 – PS5 Review

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Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story 2 is a blend of JRPG-lite and build simulation genres, developed by Agate Games. They’re an Indonesian-based dev who, until the Valthirian Arc series, had focused primarily on mobile games. The game is published by PCube, whose previous credits include Arcrunner and Tormented Souls.

Valthirian Arc – Back to School

It launched on the 22nd of June for PS5, Xbox Series, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.


I’d honestly not heard of the original game, Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story, released in late 2018, so I was keen to explore what this genre-fusing RPG had in store for me. Valthirian Arc sees you taking on the role of Principle of one of the Valthirian regions’ academies, where students come to expand their skills as Knights, Mages, Clerics or Arcworkers. It’s an interesting concept as it marries many well-travelled mechanics from JRPGs. This includes turn-based combat, spell-casting and gameplay elements from building SIMs, such as resource management and construction paths. Starting out with a straightforward but lengthy tutorial, the game introduces you to some main characters. These include Rodno, the only student on campus initially, and Eve, the school secretary.

The game takes you through how students learn new skills, using somewhat limited skill trees, which in turn provide them with additional skills to be used in battle. You’re limited to two skills per character, which slightly restricts your play style, but overall the system works well.  Aside from students, I found that the other “main” characters function as little more than narrative devices to progress the story. They don’t have any tangible impact on your academy development, which seems like a missed opportunity to add a layer of complexity to the gameplay loop. The open world areas are diverse, ranging from mountains to forests, with bright environments and smooth character movement. Exploration is made a little quicker through a dash mechanic. There are plenty of enemies to fight (or avoided if needed) and gold and arcstone to farm.

Anime Characters, Valthirian Arc, Dialogue.
Learning has never been such fun!

I felt the map design, due in part to the world’s small size, restricted me at times. It forced me to retrace my steps and find the correct route to complete quests, rather than give me multiple routes to my objective. You’ll find chests along the way that will give you gold, arcstone or even blueprints of certain building types. This encourages exploration. The game advances one month when you’ve completed all your management actions, or once you complete a quest. With four months in a season (for some reason), time goes by pretty quickly. You also have a certain number of “cycles” (or months) to complete a pre-set list of quests, otherwise, they are failed, which adds a time element to planning and completing your activities.

Graphics & Audio

Valthirian Arc is a colourful and fun world to explore, characters move smoothly when in the open world and I really liked anime-based character designs on the dialogue screens, each one detailed and unique in its own right. Textures in the landscape, such as mountains, grass and trees, are simple but consistent with the whole aesthetic. Background music when in the academy, completing your resource management tasks and upskilling your students, is actually very soothing. This helps you get into a somewhat zen-like state doing your day-to-day chores as an academy principal! Open-world music is similarly pleasant, with the tempo increasing and becoming more dramatic when entering battles or approaching enemies.

Anime Characters, Valthirian Arc, Buildings, Menu, Resources
Building management is straightforward and intuitive.

The menu system I found to be very straightforward, but it feels very much like an expanded mobile game. There’s definitely a level of complexity that could be added here. Everything flows well though, from your quest management area to tracking your student skills, building management, as well as your research paths. I think a menu wheel would have better suited the UI in some menus, rather than asking me to tap right 6 times to get to an option I wanted, but I expect this comes with a lack of experience in console development. Enemy design is varied ranging from Pyons (essentially blobs of water) to Omnicorns (think Bantha’s from Star Wars!). Some of the enemy designs are clearly influenced by other great JRPG series such as Final Fantasy.


There is quite a lot to grind for in Valthirian Arc, whether it be killing monsters for Gold and Arcstone. These resources will be used to build different levels of buildings and make advances in research. For me, the various building levels, (you can have Greenhouse 1-3 for example), could have been taken a step further. Rather than just getting a Physical stat increase of +15 for Knights, with your Gym 3 building, perhaps an additional special move or shield buff for each encounter could have been added. While building design, bonuses and min/maxing of characters could have been taken much further, there is enough to keep you coming back.

The core tenet of the game is to increase your academy’s “Prestige”, which is done primarily through student graduation. This is a double-edged sword, however. You keep enrolling new students every few years, but their skill trees start at zero. The students who are graduating, and you’ve built over in-game “years”, leave and take their fully developed skill trees with them.

Exploration, Anime Characters, Valthirian Arc, Trees, Portal, Arcstone, Rocks
Exploring is fun, but limited.

There’s also the story element which you lose when students graduate, as their arcs hadn’t been fully completed. That was a shame for me, especially with my first student Rodno, who I came to rely on for harder enemies. The farm grind for Gold and Arcstone can be fun, along with completing missions for other academies. These are done to maintain and improve your relationship with them and lower the danger level of their region. As expected in a JRPG-esque game, there are progressively harder enemies with varied attack types. There are numerous boss encounters too, which will require you to level up to complete them. These give higher value chests, with the possibility of high-quality research and building blueprints in them.

Final Thoughts

I did encounter a few issues during the review. One crash took me out of the game completely, and one creature quest started me in a location where the specified creature didn’t spawn. Other than that I only saw some minor issues, such as mistranslated dialogue or jitter on some enemy animations, so overall the quality was good.

The building and research management loop ties in well with the open-world quest and gameplay loop from season to season. I took a sense of pride in graduating students consistently. Valthirian Arc feels very much like a game whose roots are in the mobile space, developed by a studio expanding its horizons into the PC and console arena. It has well-implemented (if well-trodden) JRPG-like elements and great potential for deeper character development and in-game progression systems.

Today, I’m giving Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story 2 a solid Thumb Culture Silver Award.

Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.

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