Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Valkyria Chronicles Remastered T for Teen, ages 13 and up. It was rated as such because of mild animated blood, mild suggestive themes, the use of tobacco, and violence. The game takes place during a fictitious world war, and it doesn’t hold anything back in terms of who lives or dies. The game does a superb job of showing just how war affects and ruins people’s lives. That being said, it’s not overly realistic so the warning is rather accurate.
Plays Like: Valkyria Chronicles Remastered doesn’t play like many other games out there. It’s a cross between a third-person shooter and a hardcore strategy RPG. It’s all wrapped up in a beautiful package.
Review Basis: SEGA was kind enough to send over a digital review code for us to play through, and I did just that. Having played through the original on the PS3, it was nice to revisit this classic game.
Back in late 2008 SEGA released a strategy RPG that was so unlike anything else out at the time. It featured stunning graphics, killer gameplay, and a beautiful story with a world war backdrop. It was powerful, addicting, and challenging, and now almost a decade later, they’re re-releasing Valkyria Chronicles for the PlayStation 4. I can tell you now, if you missed it the first time around, this is an incredible game that has aged perfectly and is well worth playing.
The gameplay is exceedingly addicting. Before starting a mission players have to select which troops to deploy. There are a total of five classes you can select, Scout, Shock Trooper, Lancer, Engineer and Sniper. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and some classes are much more effective on certain missions compared to others, so it’s wise to mix and match based on the intel you receive for the upcoming mission.
Once your troops are deployed, that’s where the game’s unique gameplay really shines. At the start of a player’s turn, all troops are displayed as icons on a large map, and at the very top of the screen there are Command Points (CP) displayed, these are represented by golden medals. Each class requires one CP to activate, however the tank requires two.
Once you select your unit the camera zooms in to a traditional third-person shooter view, where you can actually move your unit. Each unit can only move a certain amount based on their Action Points (AP). That means you can take a Scout for example and race on ahead to see which enemies lay in wait. Some of the stronger units like the Shock Trooper or Lancer don’t have as many AP and therefore are unable to move quite as far.
Once you spot an enemy, you can go ahead and engage in combat. This system isn’t based on points, but rather on your ammo. Each unit can fire only a select number of times per turn. This is why it’s so important to ensure you match your units correctly. In other words, don’t have a Scout go up against a Shock Trooper or that will not end well for the Scout. You don’t need to always engage in combat either, healing, or repairing your tank all work exactly the same, one action per turn. Once you’re done with a unit, you end that turn and move on to the next unit until you have exhausted all of your Command Points, and then it’s the enemies turn to proceed. It is extremely simple to get into, but let me tell you, it takes a very long time to master.
- The minor details add up. You learn very early on that terrain is important, and so too is unit placement. Some units have a natural affinity to grass, earth, etc. and by ensuring said unit is in their desired spot ensures you will have an advantage, or what the game calls Battle Potential and Personal Potential, basically special abilities. As time goes by units will even develop bonds for one another, making them stronger as a pair, both defensively and offensively.
- Taking cover will save your life. I can’t stress how important it is to crouch down behind sandbags, or position your units behind wood fences, behind the tank, or other areas of cover. When it’s time for the enemy to move, you can bet they will single out the lone unit that is unprotected. If your units fall in combat, you have three turns to reach them for an emergency evacuation, or else they’ll be dead for good. You have a reserve of about 20 units, but still, you form bonds with these troops and won’t want to let anyone die.
- You unit base can be used to call forth new units in the event your troops fall and battle or are being healed by the evacuation team. This is extremely important to remember as you don’t want to be at a disadvantage while in battle. Be warned though, calling in new units uses up Command Points.
+ Each missions is unique, forcing you to think on your feet. You might have to take out an enemy leader, take over a base, and wait a set number of turns for reinforcements to arrive, or clear out mines so your tank can make its way to an enemy base. There are countless ways the game throws curveballs at you in what appear to be simple missions. What I really enjoyed was how simple strategy RPG mission-types like the ones I mentioned all feel incredibly fresh and unique here because of the fantastic gameplay.
- The unique gameplay all comes together in a very unique way. The entire game takes place within a storybook. Players view each chapter as a mix between cutscenes and gameplay. I absolutely loved this as it makes the game feel incredibly unique. The storybook allows players to easily navigate through the campaign, but also allows access to other areas of interest including Skirmishes, Training Field, R&D Facility, and more. Each of these is used for a different purpose. Skirmishes are missions where you can build up experience and money. Experience can then be used in the Training Filed to level up your classes. One of the best features of Valkyria Chronicles is that you don’t level up single units, but rather the whole class, meaning all characters under that class will all level up together. Money is used in the R&D Facility to purchases upgraded weapons, armor, and tank parts.
- The story is just fantastic. Valkyria Chronicles oozes charm at every corner, and while some of the voice acting can be a little stiff at times, the story is always riveting. The story deals with a small country trying to prevent a military superpower from invading and stealing a special resource that fuels virtually everything from weapons to medical supplies. You take on the role of a military strategies who is trying to push back the enemy and even though you’re in the militia and not the grand military, you’re still doing your part. That’s what makes the story so captivating, you’re essentially a group of townspeople that are doing what they feel it right by protecting their homeland. The greater world war conflict going on outside their country is no stranger to them, and once the ravages of war are at their home front, they’ll do anything to save the people they love. Wrapped inside this intriguing tale is one where a couple slowly starts to fall in love, which may seem a bit cliché, but ultimately it comes together in a very powerful way.
- The audio visual presentation is phenomenal. This game looked amazing on the PlayStation 3, and now in 1080p 60 frames-per-second it looks even better. It looks incredible. There are no technical hiccups whatsoever, from the smooth framerate, to the lush graphics, it all comes together in a beautiful package. The art design alone is amazing, from the painting-like atheistic to the little touches like seeing burr written on the tank tracks as it moves along. It’s wonderfully put together. The audio is even better than on the PS3. There’s something about the PS4 that really makes games sound incredible, and that’s no different here. The soundtrack is sweeping and powerful, and the audio effects are exactly as they should be. Overall this game has it all.
+/- The AI can make a few questionable moves at times. For the most part they will take advantage of every mistake you make, however at other times they’ll pass on an incredible opportunity to destroy you. Here’s an example, my tank only had two shots worth of life left in it, and the enemy knows that, just like you know how much life enemies have. Instead of using all of their Command Points to finish me off, they spent them moving around the map. That foolish move allowed me to position an Engineer near the tank and repair it back to full health. That never would have happened against a live player.
I’ve played a lot of Strategy RPGs in my day from Fire Emblem to Shining Force, and I can say without hesitation that Valkyria Chronicles is one of the very best I’ve ever played. This remastered version should be purchased by everyone even remotely interested in the genre. As a matter of fact I would recommend even those that dislike the genre give this one a try as it has such wide reaching appeal. It’s an incredible videogame and a true achievement SEGA should be very proud of.
Final Score: 9/10