Thank you Sega for sending us this game to review!
Valkyria Chronicles was originally released for the PlayStation 3 in 2008. It was well received and spawned two sequels and an anime series. After playing this game and getting to know the characters (even crying at the death of one of them), I’m interested in seeing the anime. The remastered edition supports 1080p visuals (with the exception of the cutscenes still being in 720p) and bundled in DLC for even more action than the thirty plus hours of game time. That thirty hours is a conservative estimate because the battles in this 3D turn based RPG can be challenging at times and redoing a few of them is almost guaranteed.
The story behind Valkyria Chronicles is that the neutral province of Gallia is invaded by the Imperial army for their precious mineral, ragnite. Many innocent civilians are killed and Welkin, a nature loving guy whose father happens to be a war hero, steps up and defends his hometown of Bruhl from their attack. A baker named Alicia stands beside him and they join the army together to save their homeland. The story and characters are really well fleshed out and the battles are challenging, but fun endeavors.
My only complaint about Valkyria Chronicles is that there is only one difficulty setting for the story based battles and people looking for a casual story telling experience may be put off by the grueling battles. On the flipside, veterans looking for an intense challenge won’t be able to do much other than try to get an A rating on all of their battles. There is a Steam achievement for doing so, but I’m perfectly happy with the Bs and Ds I’ve earned for my skirmishes. Retrying the story-based battles isn’t possible until you start a new save after completing the game.
The story telling is done in an interactive manga/comic book format. You can click on the story panels to watch (or skip if you’re in a hurry) movie sequences that explain the backstory and build up the upcoming mission and battle sequence. Each of the eighteen chapters has a mandatory battle or two that are turn based and typically require your squad to recapture a stronghold from the imperial forces. The mission objective must be completed within the predetermined turn limit (usually 20 turns) and certain characters must be kept alive or else you’ll see a game over screen and have the option to retry the battle.
Depending on how many enemies are defeated and how fast the mission was accomplished you’ll be scored and rewarded in money and experience for your efforts. The money can be spent in the R&D lab for researching and unlocking better weapons and tank enhancements to give you an edge in battle. You can also spend money on extra story content and battles by helping a reporter out on her upcoming book about the war.
Experience can be spent on training your units which helps unlock new abilities and leveling up their class which benefits everyone in it. If you find yourself needing more money and experience than the story-mode missions provide, you can replay skirmish battles as often as you like. Unlike the story-mode battles, the skirmishes have multiple difficulty options.
While your squad consists of twenty units, you can’t deploy them all in battle at once. If you have a base occupied, you can call in for reinforcements as long as you have battle slots open. Units wounded in combat have three turns to be rescued or they will be gone forever. Be sure to utilize all of the available unit types to match the battle terrain you’re facing.
There are several unit types:
Engineers: Not much firepower, but they can disarm mines and resupply ammo for everyone.
Lancers: Strong enough to take out tanks but they can’t walk very far per turn.
Scouts: They have the most movement points and can fight back if needed.
Shock Troopers: They can do a decent amount of damage, but can’t go as far as a scout.
Snipers: Good for taking out foes far away, but not very durable.
When selecting recruits for your squad you’ll notice that they have various traits that enhance or hinder their performance in the battlefield. For example, some the recruits have allergies to pollen or desert sand which will reduce their hit points if exposed to them in battle. A few of the recruits are loners while others fight better alongside their comrades. If units are next to their friends, they will receive backup fire from them during their turn. Free attacks come in handy so pay attention to who your units like to fight alongside.
Some units prefer fighting alongside the opposite sex while others clearly have same sex attraction. There are a couple of heterosexual romances that take place during the game and nothing more than kissing is shown. Since this game takes place during a war, there is a lot of battlefield violence, but not a lot of blood is shown. There are still plenty of gruesome scenes as there are people imprisoned in labor camps and it’s implied that many of them, including children, were burned alive.
Prejudice is shown towards a group of people called the Darcsens and some of the characters learn to treat them properly while others remain spiteful. Despite the negative themes there are positive ones including messages of hope, redemption and forgiveness throughout this game.
All in all, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is an excellent game that's worth picking up if you haven’t played the original game on the PS3. Out of all of the versions I’d recommend the PC one which sells for $19.99 on Steam. Though it doesn't have "Remastered" in the title, it's on par with the PS4 version which is just as beautiful to behold. The hand-drawn and water color painted visuals look fantastic. The great voice acting and character development make the story a treat to watch - so much so that I’d rather watch the stories than get my butt kicked in the battlefield. While the battles can be grueling, they are also very rewarding when you send the Imperial army retreating.