Valkyria Chronicles was an absolutely beautiful tactical RPG that released on the PS3 back in 2008. It was lauded for the sketchbook-style artwork of the game, as well as its story and characters. Sega decided to, by way of preparing us for the next home console sequel later this year/early next year, release a PS4 version of the original called Valkyria Chronicles Remastered. For those of you who missed it and wondered whether it’s worth buying, read on.
The story, which is told across many, many cutscenes in a book, is the story of the small country of Gallia, caught in a massive war between two superpowers: the Atlantic Federation and Imperial Alliance. Since all the action takes place on the fictional continent of Europa, this war is called the Second Europan War. The entire war engine runs off a mineral called Ranite, and it’s poor Gallia that seems to be rich with the stuff. To the defense of their home country come Welkin, who joins Squad 7 in the Gallian military, and with his team mates must find a way to end the war. Valkyria Chronicles is so plainly an allegory for World War II that it might as well be labelled as “World War II: The JRPG”.
If you’ve not played the game before, it’s an interesting take on the tactical RPG genre. To plan your attack and your moves, you’re presented with an overhead map of the action. From there, you can zoom down to a chosen character where you are given a particular amount of points to move these characters around a battlefield. These points expend quite quickly as you move, and while you’re moving the action is all in realtime, so it behooves you well to make your actions quickly while you’re down there. If you’ve played something tactical before, such as Fire Emblem or Codename S.T.E.A.M, you’ll become comfortable with the game’s mechanics very quickly.
As a remaster, the game’s not a massive improvement over the the original. It runs at a nice and smooth 60 fps, and includes all the original game’s DLC, but the graphics can still be a bit jaggy, especially in the cutscenes. Of course, if you’re playing a tactical JRPG, you’re not exactly in it for the visuals; you’re here for the gameplay and the story, and this game has oodles of both. Despite that, the graphics engine that shows the cutscenes as if they moving sketches are still as stunning as they were back on the PS3. One feature I’d have loved to see included here is a way to skip the enemy turn animations. Sometimes you want to just get back into the action, not watch a moron run around the battlefield like a headless turnip trying to figure out the best way to get to you. It seems the main way the game stacks its difficulty against you is in overwhelming numbers and tricky environments, and not through overwhelmingly tricky AI.
Tactical RPGs take a certain kind of person to enjoy, so Valkyria Chronicles Remastered not for everyone. People who enjoy these sorts of games, like I do, will find that there is amazingly beautiful depth to the story and the battle system. I was initially quite surprised to find that it was by Sega, who are more known for Sonic the Hedgehog than for tactically rich games. The best part of the game? You get to drive a freakin’ tank around. How awesome is that? And if you find after you’ve played it that you still haven’t had enough, you can find the game’s two sequels on the PS Vita’s PSN under the PSP games section.