If there was one game on the PS3 that I could not praise enough, it was Valkyria Chronicles. originally released in the early days of the PS3, the game was a strategy-RPG which used a third person shooting mechanic and cover based defences, a feature we would see expanded-upon in the later released XCOM: Enemy Unknown from Firaxis.
Now Sega has given the game some Remastered Love, bringing a game with already great graphics to the PS4 as Valkyria Chronicles Remastered. An update that brings several improvements to the game while delivering the same great gameplay and story that made the 2008 title one of the best games on the PS3.
Valkyria Chronicles tells the story of an Alternate World War 2, taking place on the continent of Europa which is dominated by two ruling factions, East Europan Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic Federation. Both factions are reliant on a multi-purpose mineral called Ragnite, which is used for everything from medical supplies to powering tanks. With the Empire’s Ragnite growing scarcely, the Empire declares war on the Alliance and immediately puts them on the defence by taking over a neutral, but rich in Ragnite, Principality of Gallia.
From here the story becomes personal as we’re thrown in the shoes of Welkin Gunther, who along with his adopted sister Isara and town watch captain Alicia, watch as the Empire roll over their peaceful town of Bruhl. After a desperate escape in a prototype tank called the Edelweiss, the trio join the Gallian militia, where Welkin is promoted to Lieutenant and is given his own squad.
The story is told beautifully over scenes of dialog cuts via Graphic Novel chats and cut-scenes which feel like watching a moving painting thanks to the game’s unique art style. The story, while Anime inspired, does not give a dull moment; it feels like almost everything character and conversation to in the game is relevant to the story and pushes us down a view of war that is both beautiful and heart-breaking at the same time.
Valkyria Chronicles is a turn-based tactical RPG with some real-time elements. Players will be able to place various type of soldiers on the map and use Command Points to take control of the characters, from there they can move them around (as long as they have enough action points) to set up an attack or defence. While moving a character, players can be shot at by enemy soldiers if they cross their field of view, making the path to the area you are looking to get to as vital as the destination. Once you’re set to attack, the game switches to a third person shooting mechanic, allowing you to manually aim at your target to start a quick back and forth gun fight. Several factors determines how successful you are in the fight, including armour, distance, type of weapon, character traits, environmental cover and class.
Aside from The Edelweiss, there are 5 main classes to fill out your squad with, the mid-range Scout, the anti-tank Lancers, close-ranged Shocktroopers, the healing/support Engineers, and Snipers. This forms a Rock-Paper-Scissors style of gameplay between the classes, as foot soldiers will have more speed over a Lancer getting more shots in, however Lancers are great at taking down tanks, while tanks will devastate any foot soldiers – or anything else – that is unfortunate to stand in its way.
To make things a little easier, your soldiers can use the environment to their advantage. Sniper Posts, buildings, tall grass, and sand-bag cover is available to soldiers for additional defence, range and stealth. Most of these elements are destructible, so taking on a tank with a wall of sand-bags as your only protection isn’t a very safe tactic.
One of my favourite aspects of building your squad in Valkyria Chronicles is the Character potentials. While most Tactical RPGs focus on the class role, Valkyra’s potentials adds an additional dimension to the characters in your command. For example, a character that “Fancies-Men” will lead to enhanced accuracy as long as they’re by a male character, while having a “Metal Allergy” will have characters lose a steady amount of health as they remain near metal objects.
Valkyria Chronicles is also well-balanced in terms of difficulty slope. During my time playing through the game, I never felt the need to grind for more experience or funds to increase my equipment or my squad levels, as the game does provide Skirmish levels to play through to assist in those aspects. Skirmishes are optional battles to test out characters, different strategies, tank mods, and to increase your resources to prepare you for the next battle. That being said, later levels in the game do put your strategies to the test that may make players second guess their squads.
Now if you have played the original Valkyria Chronicles, there isn’t much of a change from the PS3 version that was released back in 2008, however there is some enhancements. The PS4 remastered edition includes some improvements to the controls, the already gorgeous graphics running at 1080p/60fps, dual audio, remote-play with your PSVita, and all the DLC. The results of the upgraded quality with its unique pencil-drawing-like graphics continues to make Valkryia Chronicles one of the best looking games you’ll ever find.
Valkyria Chronicles is definitely a bang for your buck, as the game features a 30+ hour campaign over 18 chapters and side missions for the price of $29.99 ($44.99 CND). This is also the first time that the title will receive Trophy support, as Trophies were not introduced on the PS3 at the time of the original launch.”