Did you see our preview for Valkyria Chronicles Remastered for PlayStation 4? If you feel like a preview before the review, then head over here.
First and foremost, this is an HD update to Valkyria Chronicles released back in 2008 for the PS3. It includes all the original DLC, including the higher difficulty mode (which I did not try), along with updated tweaks to the controls and increased video output to 1080p (from 720p). If you’ve played Valkyria Chronicles before and you were just wondering what the differences were between the 2008 release and the 2016 Remastered release, then there you go. You can probably click off the page now because you already know what’s up.
However, those of you just tuning into this game 8 years later, then you are in for a treat. Developed by SEGA, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is a tactical RPG that pits you as commander of a squad of soldiers defending the free country of Gallia. It’s tactical because you will be presented with a map of a battlefield in which you need to order your soldiers around to secure enemy bases and dispose of enemy soldiers. It’s an RPG because you gain experience and level up your team. Add some strategy and cheesy voice-acting, and you have Valkyria Chronicles Remastered simplified to its base elements.
What is immediately apparent about this game is the incredible story book visual style that tones down the brevity of the subject matter at hand… war. You take control of Welkin Gunther, son of a famous Gallian war hero, to whom war and fighting come as second nature. Or so he will quickly realize. His family comes under attack as war finds its way to Gallia and soon finds himself manning an illustrious blue tank called the Edelwiess. The games continues to tell the story of Welkin and Alicia through chapters of a book. Each chapter is filled with cut-scenes that move the story along at a solid pace and will also offer a battle map that you will have to complete in order to advance to the next chapter. The visual style goes hand in hand with the story book storytelling mechanic, and the upped graphical resolution makes it pop off the screen.
While the story is intriguing, the voice-acting is full of cheese. There are some cringe-worthy moments between your characters that will leave you laughing/dying inside. Luckily, these moments can be passed along thanks to the comic relief of Private Hans the Flying Pig. MOINKS!
Once you advance through a couple chapters, you will get the chance to set up a squad of soldiers to help you on the battlefield. There are a total of 5 different classes of soldier, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The tank unit (aka the Edelweiss) is an additional unit that will always be on the battlefield. How you make up the rest of the team is up to you. These classes include the Scout, Shocktrooper (basically a soldier), Lancer (anti-tank), Sniper, and Engineer. To further complicate constructing your squad is that each soldier you recruit has attributes that influence their performance in combat. These attributes include whether your units work well in urban environments, forest environments, with others, alone, etc. They even have members that they like, so once you start putting your team together, be sure to pay attention to these attributes to get the full effect from your soldiers.
Your squad levels up in a very simplistic way. Just head to the training camp to pump your experience points into your units by class to gain more abilities and beef them up. You won’t need to dump ability points into specific categories, so micromanaging your squad isn’t really an option. This includes upgrades to weapons and armor, as you generally upgrade damage, accuracy, and defensive bonuses. Most customization comes from your tank upgrades and modifications. You only have so much you can load on the tank as far as mods go, so you will have to be strategic in the kind of upgrades you decide on.
There are some other extras in the base camp view, including following the news articles surrounding your exploits and visiting the graves of your fallen squad members to whom you couldn’t save. There are also skirmishes available outside the main story to gain more experience and money to level up your squad and equipment. You can replay these at increasingly harder difficulties if you need to grind out some experience in order to take on the next battle.
Battles take place in a turn-based fashion that occurs in two phases: your turn, then the enemy’s turn. Each unit consumes an overall action point to move around the map and if you end up using an item or firing at an enemy, you will use your in turn action in order to accomplish this. Moving around relies an different system based on steps taken. So for example, if you run your Lancer out from behind a wall and then shoot at an enemy tank, you can still use up the remaining movement points to move back out of harms way, barring you didn’t take to many steps to begin with. You can’t shoot your gun twice unless you exit the turn for that unit, and then choose to take another turn with that you unit to shoot the gun again (hope you brought ammo).
Each class of soldier has different movement and actions, but they are all important for the battle. I found myself relying a lot on my Scouts and Snipers to get the job done, and only in some instances did I feel the need to include my Shocktroopers or Lancers. I also had to replay some missions because this strategy does not work 100% of the time. Once you get the mission brief and objective, you’ll find yourself setting up where your troops will deploy, sometimes in one group or spread out over a map. Remember to keep your Engineer and the Edelweiss in close proximity at all times, because the tank will take a beating and require repairs or removal of anti-tank mines.
I played up to Chapter 7 in the main story and several skirmishes to grind some experience. It’s important to keep in mind that your performance in the battle correlates to how much experience and money you receive, so try to be as tactical and efficient as possible. This also gives some incentive to replay missions for better scores, which may also net you a new weapon or other goodies. The story moves along a solid pace, and elements are still introduced as you encounter them in each battle. SEGA does a great job of reminding you of rules and tactics because there will be a point where a brain fart will have you forgetting to watch out for anti-personnel mines and severely crippling a Scout.
Overall, this is a great game that will scratch the itch of the RPG genre while massaging in some strategy as well. Because of its unique blend, it doesn’t do either solidly, but I think the refreshing take on these back in 2008 are what made this game such a cult hit. And for all the additional content, everything is in here for a solid chunk of time to invest.
A digital copy of the game was provided for our review.
Gameplay - 8/10
Design - 9/10
Content - 10/10
+ Great visuals
+ Fun tactical combat
+ Hans the Flying Pig
- Movement can be frustrating