Back in 2008, SEGA released Valkyria Chronicles, a game that was without a doubt one of the best JRPGs of the previous generation. Although critically acclaimed, the game fell under the radar for many players, becoming one of the "˜PS3's hidden gems'. Two sequels were later released on PSP, with the third chapter in the series never making it to the west, leaving many wondering if SEGA had given up on the series. Clearly that's not the case, as SEGA Valkyria Chronicles on Steam and brought a remastered version to PS4 in preparation for the next game in the series, Valkyria: Azure Revolution.
Valkyria Chronicles is set in Europa, a fictional version Europe during World War II where the continent is dominated by two superpowers: the Imperial Alliance in the east and the Atlantic Federation in the west. The survival and economies of both powers depend on a precious mineral called Ragnite, and it's this mineral's scarcity that results in the Empire declaring war on the Federation. However, the Empire also sets its eyes on the neutral nation of Gallia due to its rich Ragnite deposits.
The Empire invades Gallia, beginning its strike in small towns such as Bruhl, the hometown of main characters Weklin Gunther and Alicia Melchiott. Along Isara, Welkin's younger sister, the trio fights back against imperial forces and eventually manages to escape from the army. They later enlist in the Gallian militia, with Welkin being put in charge of Militia's Squad 7, while Alicia becomes his sergeant and Isara the driver of the Edelweiss, the tank that Welkin's father used during the previous war. It's a simple and charming story with a great cast of characters, but one that also delves into the horrors of war, exploring themes such as death, racism, slavery, honor and sacrifice.
Valkyria Chronicles's gameplay can be seen as a mix of tactical role playing and real-time action sequences. In each turn, you are given a certain amount of CP (Command points), usually around ten, which you can then use to move your characters and attack the enemy in a similar way to third-person action shooters, with the difference being that the game gives you all the time in world to carefully aim at the enemy. Moving a character and/or having them do an action such as attacking or healing costs one CP, while selecting tanks costs two CP. You can also use CP to perform Orders, which temporarily increases the stats of one or more characters. Once you run out of CP, it's your enemy turn to attack.
It's a simple concept, but one that's quite challenging when you take into account all the strategy involved. For starters, you have five different classes: Scouts, Shocktroopers, Lancers, Engineers and Snipers. Scouts have high mobility but low firepower, while shocktroopers are the opposite with low mobility and high firepower. As for the remaining classes, Lancers are anti-tank warfare specialists, Engineers can disarm mines and repair your tank in mid-combat, while Snipers allow you to perform long-range kills but they have very low defense and mobility. Having a balance between these and carefully plan where to place them is the key to victory. In addition, each character has its own inner abilities and traits, which sometimes give them temporarily stats boost or extra ammo, while other times it's the opposite.
You will have to be careful of enemy fire when you are moving, as Scouts, Shocktroopers, Engineers and tanks will still attack during your turn when you are in range, making the use of cover crucial to progress. Cover greatly increases your defense, a mechanic that also applies to your enemy. In addition, using your tank as a shield to protect your soldiers is also a good strategy to progress through the battlefield.
You can select the same character several times during the same turn, which allow you to attack multiple enemies with the same character in one turn. The only handicap to this is the fact that that character's mobility decreases every time you selected him/her, which means you can't just go from one end of the map to the other with one character. This is unadvisable anyway, as it would only leave your character alone and vulnerable to enemy attacks. However, the risk is worth it if you manage to capture an enemy camp without any casualties.
Speaking of camps, this is another factor that plays in the whole strategy of the gameplay. In each battle there are several camps scattered around the map, and the more you have in your control the easier the battle becomes. Camps not only give stats boost to the characters inside it, but also allow you to call reinforcements. The downside to this is that you have to wait a turn for the reinforcements to arrive.
When you complete a mission your earn experience and money, with the amount depending on your rank and how many soldiers and tanks you have killed/destroyed. Experience can be spend to level up each class of soldiers. This means that if you level up the Scout class, every Scout soldier will level up, even those that you don't use in battle. As for the money, you can use it to purchase new weapons get some equipment and tank upgrades.
The game doesn't offer much variety in terms of missions and objectives. Pretty much all the missions in the game, aside from one or two, require you to either defeat all the enemies on the map or conquer the enemy's main camp. Despite lacking in objective variety, the gameplay offers a very fun and enjoyable tactical experience that makes up for it.
From a visual perspective, this remaster doesn't look that different from the original PS3 version. While the game is now displayed at 1080p and 60fps, although cutscenes are still locked at 30fps, the game didn't receive any other kind of improvements, so don't expect more detailed backgrounds or characters. This doesn't mean that the game looks bad, quite the opposite, the watercolor-toned visuals and art style are lovely and very impressive in some occasions.
As for the soundtrack, this another of the game's many strong points. It's simply superb, with each track fitting perfectly with the mood of each occasion, be it during the intense battles or the calmer and relaxing moments of the story.
In addition to upscaled resolution, the PS4 versions of Valkyria Chronicles also comes with all DLC content originally released on PS3. These includes a few missions dedicated to some of your squad's less important characters, new missions that reveal more about one of the game's villains and actually lets you control her during a few missions, and a hard mode. While the first is easily forgettable, the missions where you control Selvaria are by far the most interesting and fun of the three, while hard mode is just a new mode created to test the skills of veteran players.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered brings one of the best JRPG from the previous generation to PS4. Those that have already played the game on PS3 will find that the game looks almost the same on PS4, but as for everyone else, Valkyria Chronicles is a game that delivers a simple and charming story, beautiful visuals, and an engaging and challenging turn-based gameplay.
|Engaging gameplay that offers a unique mix of tactical role playing and real-time action.|
|Wonderful story with a great cast of characters characters.|
|Beautiful visuals and superb soundtrack.|
|Lacks variety in mission objectives.|
|Having to wait one turn for your reinforcements to arrive.|
|Valkyria Chronicles doesnâ€™t look much better on PS4.|