Valkyria Chronicles Remastered Review
Publisher/Developer: Sega- Console: PlayStation 4- Release Date: May 17th
*Disclaimer* Reviewer was granted a review code for the game.
Valkyria Chronicles may rely on trial and error but players will need to take advantage of this particular tactic in order to survive SEGA’s military tactical RPG title. Going into the game, I had no idea Valkyria would be such a difficult experience. On multiple occasions, I found myself replaying missions two or three times before I found a winning strategy. Regardless of how many times I found myself frustrated on the battlefield, Valkyria always managed to bring me back because at the end of the day…the game is extremely rewarding.
When Valkyria Chronicles released on the PS3 eight years ago, the game quickly gained affection from critics and consumers alike. Not only does the gameplay feature rock solid tactical RPG elements but the story itself is a heartwarming adventure. While this war story isn’t the ultimate in war stories, the game manages to produce emotions with its cast of lovable and love to hate characters. SEGA developed two sequels after Valkyria Chronicles and is currently working on a sequel/spin-off called Valkyria: Azure Revolution. With any luck, we may see the sequels get the remaster treatment too.
The plot in Valkyria focuses on two major nations at war with each other over the scarcity of Ragnite, an all important resource used across the continent of Europa. The tyrannical East Europan Imperial Alliance, also known as The Empire, seeks to invade neighboring areas to obtain the dwindling source. This in turn causes The Atlantic Federation, an opposing superpower nation, to retaliate in force; thus sparking the Second Europan War! A third, neutral party nation known as the Principality of Gallia is roped into the war thanks to their vast resource of Ragnite.
Players assume the role of Gallia native, Welkin Gunther and his allies in arms as they are dragged into this conflict. Together, they make up Squad 7, which is a part of the Gallian militia that performs joint operations with the Federation. For a good portion of the game, Valkyria Chronicles has a very down-to-Earth attitude even with the Ragnite element. It’s not until a specific junction where the supernatural aspect is made known to players.
Europa’s history is grounded in the belief that Valkyrians, an advance race of people worshipped as gods, saved the ancient continent from a race of people called Darcsens. The Valkyrians deserve to be called gods thanks to the invincible powers they wield. For newcomers to the game like myself, we eventually find out just what the Valkyria are capable of as does Welkin and his crew. There’s also a great deal of information to read up on in-game for those of whom are interested in the lore section.
I’ve played a few tactical RPG games such as Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics, Project X Zone and more. With the exception of Project X Zone, Valkyria Chronicles is the only tactical RPG title I’ve experience where the game requires additional inputs for performing actions. In this sense, the game feels like a hybrid between turn-based RPG and tactical RPG genres. Utilizing a unique turn-based battle system dubbed BLiTZ (Battle of Live Tactical Zones), players must master this system in order to survive combat or risk getting Squad 7 killed repeatedly.
Before combat even begins, players are given a briefing on the mission at hand. Afterwards, players are tasked with choosing a limited number of allies to do battle on the field. Having a solid mixture of the six unique classes and understanding each of them properly will almost assuredly win battles.
Tanks, Scouts, Shocktroopers, Lancers, Engineers and Snipers… These are the six classes that comprise of Squad 7.
Tanks are the player’s bread and butter because they do the most damage and can defend ally foot soldiers against almost any attack, while still pushing the frontline. Which means they should be guarded as if they were a mobile Fort Knox. Welkin controls the Edelweiss and if at any time, the Edelweiss is destroyed, players automatically fail the mission.
Scouts are the advancers in Squad 7. With a higher stamina bar than any other class, scouts go out into the field, searching for enemies and flanking around them. Armed with rifles, scouts can do a fair bit of damage but can’t take as much. This is where the shocktrooper class comes in.
Shocktroopers don’t have such a high stamina bar but these are troops needed for the vanguard. Think of shocktroopers as the heavy ground units needed to do major damage against enemy personnel. In addition, their flamethrowers are a godsend for dealing with on-foot personnel.
Lancers are the anti-tank personnel and are the only units that can successfully harm a tank outside of another tank. The drawback with lancers is how slow they move and the small amount of stamina they are allotted.
Engineers are crucial to any operation. These units heal tanks, fix broken barriers needed for cover and disable anti-personnel/anti-tank mines. The downside? These units are far too weak to move on their own. At least they have a medium size stamina bar to retreat if need be.
Last but certainly not least, snipers are a godsend when needing to deal with other snipers or to get that enemy off in the distance. Against the right unit, snipers have the ability to instakill–making them a useful asset. Though snipers have been cursed with a tiny stamina bar AND very poor defense.
Combat progresses as each team takes their turn and performs actions within said turn. Alternating between ally/enemy turns, players have to fulfill mission objectives before the 20th turn or else witness a game over screen. Alternatively, there are other ways to fail a mission such as getting all allies killed, etc..
The player’s team usually moves first unless a special event occurs. Turns are concluded if a player manually ends their turn or automatically when Action Points (AP) runs out. AP is used to control units or call in Orders, which functions as special abilities. Moving a tank costs two AP, whereas three AP can be used to call in an artillery strike.
To start off the player’s turn, Overhead Mode allows for careful planning and the choosing of units from a bird’s eye position. Once a specific unit is chosen, the game shifts to Action Mode, where the view of allies moves to third-person and they can be moved around the field within the limits set in place. When it’s time to attack or perform an action, target mode is then initiated. From here, players get an over-the-shoulder standpoint as this helps with aiming. This cycle of the three modes encompasses a full turn and that goes for the enemy as well.
Gameplay itself is broken up between missions in the field and managing Squad 7 at the main hub headquarters. Missions are split between story missions and skirmishes, which act as side events. Skirmishes are unlocked after specific story missions are fulfilled. I found these skirmishes to be a great help to accumulate XP and currency, which are needed to strengthen Squad 7.
The headquarter’s hub is a menu based area that contains multiple avenues on how to enhance what members of Squad 7 can do. XP points are spent on the five personnel classes at the boot camp menu and once these classes level up enough, a new rank for said class is unlocked. Upgraded ranks allow for some classes to equip secondary weapons, such as the ability for scouts to carry grenade launchers. XP can also be used to acquire new Orders from within headquarters.
Currency is used to acquire new equipment and customize tank units. That’s pretty much as simple as it goes for what job currency holds. Currency does have another use in obtaining side arcs for the main protagonists. These side stories delve deeper into the characters’ personal agendas. Better still, each side story comes with a combat mission, which means there’s extra XP and currency to be had.
In order to deal with the growing threat of stronger enemies, upgrading allies with newer equipment is a must. I’ll say this again: Valkyria Chronicles is a tough experience for those ill-prepared and even then, it’s still tough ride thanks to the ruthless AI.
Valkyria Chronicles almost received no issues from me. The hand drawn art style really clicked with me; I’m attracted to unique art styles in video games when they look and flow smoothly. The AI made me work for my victories rather than just handing wins over. And nothing can be said against the combat on my end– I found the gameplay to be well-handled and with little to no flaws. However, I can’t say I was a fan of the storytelling format.
I didn’t like how chapter segments were broken up as often as they were because the story then feels a bit disjointed. Being brought back to the main hub every time a short cutscene ended threw off the flow of story in my opinion. I would have preferred one continuous cutscene leading up to the combat mission in each chapter.
+Great cast of characters
+Challenging but not overly frustrating
+Stellar visuals and art work
+Combat is well polished and solid
+Over 30 hours of playtime
-Story elements way too broken up
It’s quite rare that I struggle to find issues within a video game. Honestly, I can see exactly why people give Valkyria Chronicles such high regard all those years ago and still do. With any luck, the remaster’s launch will be considered a success and maybe, just maybe, SEGA will remaster the sequels too. This title deserves to be more than just a hidden gem amongst the vast sea of video games. Valkyria Chronicles Remastered launches exclusively for PlayStation 4 consoles on May 17th.
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