Originally released two years after the launch of the PlayStation 3, the original Valkyria Chronicles was met with some measure of success and was even given a set of sequels for the PSP. Unfortunately the second game did poorly enough in the West that the third title in the series was never even localized. For years after fans of the original Valkyria Chronicles strategy RPG have been hoping for the series to be revitalized and after first bringing the game to the PC, Sega has now delivered Valkyria Chronicles Remastered to the PlayStation 4. The question is, does this that originally debuted back in 2008 still hold up?
The story of Valkyria Chronicles Remastered primarily follows Welkin Gunther, the son of a great general, and Alicia Melchiott, a determined girl who first meets Welkin while serving as a member of the town watch and suspecting him of being an enemy. You see, the town of Bruhl exists on the border of the neutral Principality of Gallia and although they may not have aligned themselves with either of the two giant nations that exist in Europa, the Federation and the Empire, it isn’t long before they are dragged into the war that begins between these nations over the precious resource Ragnite.
When Bruhl is invaded by Federation forces, Alicia and members of the militia hold off the invading force while the civilians escape with the help of Welkin, his adopted younger sister Isara, and his father’s prototype tank, the Edelweiss, before evacuating themselves. Left with nowhere to turn, Welkin, Alicia, and Isara join up with the Gallian Militia and thanks to his father’s name and his actions in the previous battle, Welkin is assigned as the Lieutenant commander of a brand new Squad 7.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered’s storyline holds up incredibly well by today’s standards and is almost entirely told through scenes that are spread out between the various storyline battles that will take place. This means that there are certain times that the game ends up delivering quite a bit of development while leaving the actual fighting off of the table for upwards of a half hour depending on how fast you can read.
Thankfully, as mentioned before, the storyline manages to deliver a satisfying storyline of an alternate World War scenario following a small band of fighters that grow close as they struggle against a dominating force. Outside of the main story development, players can spend a bit of in-game currency to unlock side-story content for their squad and the more the various members of your team take part in battles the more information about their histories are revealed, encouraging players to learn about their squad mates even if they might eventually fall in battle.
At its core Valkyria Chronicles Remastered remains untouched as far as the gameplay is concerned. This is a strategy RPG that features a turn based battle system with some real time elements mixed into the fray. Every battle players will choose which units they wish to bring into a fight, with each unit falling into a certain class type such as scouts, shocktroopers, lancers, engineers, and snipers. A few special units even add an extra “Action Point” to the player’s total. With every move taken by a unit costing one AP, these units, which are usually the characters focused on in the story such as Alicia, are often quite vital to your success.
When choosing a unit to move, players are presented with an overhead view of the battlefield through a map and when a unit is chosen, they are given direct control over that character. This allows them to move a certain distance, taking an action such as attacking, healing, etc., and then potentially moving back into cover if they still have movement points left. The thing is, whenever players move around the field they run the risk of being targeted by enemies who will begin shooting when the unit is too close to them. Generally only tanks, scouts, and shocktroopers can deal out this bonus damage but this means players will need to be extremely careful not to overextend their forces or risk losing valuable fighters.
Players can choose to select the same character multiple times though the character will have a smaller movement meter and will not have any additional ammo for their weapons. This means that while it is entirely possible to select your favorite sniper (Marina) for multiple actions, she is only given three bullets at any given time, meaning at best you’ll only have three shots in a round and any extra selections will just be used to either move her into cover or into a base.
Speaking of cover, players will need to keep a real close eye on how their characters are managed. Both allies and enemies can take cover behind sandbags and even hide in tallgrass which eliminates the option for critical headshot damage. This means that although an enemy might have been killed with two shots to the head, if they are in cover even ten headshots might not drop them. Of course using your tank or even grenades to destroy or flush them out of cover is always an option.
In fact, the versatility of Valkyria Chronicles Remastered’s battle mechanics remain as wonderful and punishing as ever. This is a game that players will need to play smart in order to succeed and it is entirely possible to have a series of bad luck ruin an entire battle for you. This is especially true since this is a game that features possible permanent death. Any time a unit is downed in the field, if an enemy touches them or they are not touched by an ally within three turns, they will die and no longer be accessible. The game does alleviate this issue slightly by allowing players to, by reaching a fallen ally, call in a medic to evacuate them, multiple times in a fight and by allowing every unit to be trained by class rather than individually trained.
Outside of combat, players can spend their earned experience points to level up the aforementioned character classes, recruit more units (who come in at the same level of your current units) to replenish a weakened squad, research better weaponry, and even partake in skirmishes to grind if you find yourself butting up against a wall. You can even challenge yourself with the various bonus content that is now included in the game, though these are extremely challenging. This is a game filled with various complex elements that will come into play and learning how to tackle them is an extremely rewarding experience and is that combat system that helped make Valkyria Chronicles so memorable.
Visuals & Audio
It is rather doubtful that back in 2008 when the original title was created that the developers believed that the art style would be still benefitting the game eight years later. By choosing to go with a watercolor anime styled presentation this title continues to look amazing by today’s standards. There are very few instances where players will notice any kind of issue with the graphics, though a few stages are a bit standard looking. The main upgrade for this release comes in the form of a constant sixty frames per second as well as the 1080p graphical upgrade and thankfully both of these help make this great looking title all the better.
As far as the soundtrack is concerned this title features quite a memorable one and as for the voice work, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered features a satisfying voice cast with plenty of voiced dialogue throughout the many cut-scenes that play throughout the game and the ruckus that is raised on the battlefield sounds great.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered may not have much in the way of new content outside of some challenging Trophies to aim for, in reality the only new content for most will be the included DLC missions, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that this is a strategy RPG that stands the test of time and thanks to its art style and smooth gameplay mechanics, it is also one that any fans of the genre must try out. The original release may have slipped under the radar for some but now that it has arrived on the PlayStation 4, there is little reason to pass up on this title.
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