One of the most underappreciated games on the PS3 was Valkyria Chronicles. While the game received rave reviews from critics, it didn’t quite capture the audience it deserved. Thankfully the series has persisted over the years, due in no small part to the dedicated fans who have kept its name alive. Over the years Sega has released two PSP exclusive sequels (one being a Japan-only title), and re-released the original on PC via Steam. If you haven’t checked it out already, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is easily the definitive version.
Valkyria Chronicles is set in the fictional continent of Europa. The East Europan Imperial Alliance has started a war with the Atlantic Federation, and now the two sides are fighting within the small nation of Gallia. Players take control of Squad 7, a unit within the Gallian Militia who is charged with repelling the invading forces. The story is very character driven and mirrors a lot of the controversies from World War II. Topics such as racism, honour and family are all touched upon, and not for a moment is war glorified. It’s presented to the player as if they were reading a picture book, with cutscenes featuring a unique and pleasant pencil drawing style.
The game has a blend of turn-based and real-time strategy elements. On the battlefield each side takes turns commanding their squad with Action Points, which allows a unit to move and attack. It costs most units one point to move, but your tank unit will cost two points. Movement is in real-time; you’re not limited to a grid like other turned-based strategy games and you can freely navigate the surrounding area. If you walk in front of certain enemy units they will instantly fire at you, so it’s always best to approach from behind. When you press the attack button the action is paused, allowing you to aim and shoot at enemies. There are also limitations to consider such as your unit’s weapon accuracy, the distance they can travel in one move, and if you can avoid enemy counter attacks. The combat system is fluid, engaging and encourages you to act strategically. Those who plan ahead will reach glorious victory, while those who charge in carelessly will be punished.
Before each battle you can select the units that are deployed. There are a few things to consider such as the unit type, which includes Scouts, Shocktroopers, Snipers, Engineers and Lancers. Scouts can travel greater distances but have average defense and firepower, while Shocktroopers are the reverse and excel in defense and firepower categories. Snipers offer long-range offense, Engineers can repair vehicles and disarm landmines, and Lancers can damage enemy tanks. Additionally, squad members will get on better with other specific teammates. If the two squad members are near each other on the battlefield, they will support each other by jointly attacking enemies. It’s a great tactic to double your strength while also reducing the number of Action Points used. There are literally hundreds of combinations to take into consideration, and it’s appealing to experiment with what suits your play style. Once again strategy is highly emphasised here, so it’s good practice to have a balanced team.
Valkyria Chronicles also features a robust upgrade system. Between battles you can access the game’s Headquarters hub where you purchase upgrades and level up unit types. Any experience that is applied to a particular unit type is universally shared by that group. This means that if you switch out characters of the same unit type, you won’t have to worry about them being less effective than the others. The same applies to general upgrades – if you purchase extra defence, better accuracy or magazine sizes, these are applied to the whole squad automatically. It’s very user friendly and means you can spend less time navigating menus and more time on the battlefield.
Despite originally being released in 2008, Valkyria Chronicles has held up quite well by today’s standard. The cel shaded art style is still incredibly beautiful to behold, though there are some jagged textures here and there if you look at character models closely. The PS4 version in particular runs at a solid 1080p and keeps a fairly consistent 60fps. This brings it inline with the PC version, though the PS4 version benefits from a slightly clearer image overall. Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is easily the definitive version, but having said this if you have already played it on PS3 or PC then there’s not a lot here that warrants a second purchase.
If you haven’t played Valkyria Chronicles before then now is the time to do it. The game has held up well over the years and is still an engaging experience, particularly for those who like a strategy-focused experience. If you’re a returning veteran then there isn’t much new content to warrant a second purchase.
The definitive version Strong strategic focus Beautiful art direction
Some jagged textures Not a lot new for returning players