Review: Valkyria Chronicles Remastered
If I had the powers to do so I’d pay a visit to the 2008 version of me and ensure that I don’t let Valkyria Chronicles slip through the cracks. Unfortunately I haven’t unlocked the secrets of time travel, but my present day self can at least be content in knowing that I’ve finally – finally – witnessed the brilliance of Valkyria Chronicles for myself.
Valkyria Chronicles is set in Europa, which works as a fictionalized stand-in for Europe during the 1930’s. Here we have the Atlantic Federation and the East European Alliance currently fighting over supplies of ragnite, with the small nation of Gallia caught in the middle. The story is told through the book “On the Gallian Front” and focuses mostly on the actions of Squad 7; led by Lieutenant Welkin Gunther and Sergeant Alicia Melchiott. The game does a decent job of handling mature themes, clearly demonstrating many of the dark sides of war and even racism, while still allowing the main cast of characters to have their share of lighthearted scenes. That the members in Squad 7 have their own interests and can have fun between fighting in the war helps to flesh out each character. Rosie’s character arc in particular has some great pay off when you’re able to see her start to open up throughout the story. I only wish the story didn’t take so long to pick up.
The unique watercolor aesthetic in Valkyria Chronicles is just fantastic and works really well with the storybook presentation that the game is going for. I love how the different scenes are represented on each page of the book and even the white border around the screen in cutscenes and missions helps to make it feel like you’re looking through the pages of a book into the retelling of a battle fought long ago. That said some of the preview images for certain cinematics seemed to spoil some plot elements for me a little early which I found a bit disappointing.
Missions start with a briefing that’ll highlight what you’re going up against in each battle. Here you’re able to deploy your units and setup who will be stationed at each of your base camps. Squad 7 is made up of Scouts, Shocktroopers, Lancers, Engineers, Snipers, and Welkin’s tank. Each unit naturally have their own strengths and weaknesses and will need to work in tandem to find success on the battlefield. In some fights you can use Snipers to thin out the enemy forces while your Scouts run on ahead and in other situations you may need to deploy more Lancers to deal with enemy tanks. Whatever the situation the game is really good about setting up plenty of different scenarios for you to deal with in your own way.
Once you’ve deployed your troops the game enters into a turn-based mix between RTS and TPS. Each turn starts with an overhead view of the map and current placement of each unit. You’re given a limited number of CP each turn that can be used to issue commands to one of your units. Once a unit is selected you’ll then enter an over-the-shoulder view and directly control that character. From here you can set up your positioning, fire upon enemy soldiers, or go for a stealthier approach if the situation calls for it. (While direct control over each character feels just fine I will say that I found the tank controls to be a bit clunky.) Once your turn is over the enemy will then take their turn and the mission will continue until the victory or failure conditions are met. There’s a LOT of strategy involved in each mission and the game does get pretty difficult near the end. Positioning is hugely important and it’s easy to screw up if you’re not fully paying attention. Luckily the game allows you to save at any time and allowing you to call for medics on downed troops (specifically troops that can be lost forever if they die) makes for an experience that’s far more forgiving than it is frustrating.
After battle you’ll earn experience and gold that can be used to train your unit classes and upgrade gear at headquarters. Classes level together and weapons can easily be interchanged by people within the same class. Considering that certain people have unique traits that can be used in battle I love that levels are shared as a Class rather than person-to-person. This makes it easier to build Squad 7 from mission-to-mission in a way that best suits your needs and alleviates a good bit of grinding.
Valkyria Chronicles is a deeply satisfying game and one that I really only have a few minor gripes with. By the time the credits rolled I found myself completely wrapped up in a cast of like-able characters and excited to dig into the game’s New Game +. If, like me, you never gave Valkyria Chronicles a chance then there’s no better time to see what you’ve been missing out on.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Fantastic presentation
- Challenging and deep combat encounters
- Great cast of characters
- Class/Weapon progression
What I Dislike:
- Tank controls are a little clunky
- Preview images for story scenes give away upcoming plot points