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Review: Valkyria Chronicles – Mamoth review of SEGAs epic J-RPG

We cannot hesitate when it comes to talk about Valkyria Chronicles: It is simply awesome! The reasons that turn the slope positive on that way (in our opinion) are in the words that follow along this review.

Written by Rafa

From the very start, the intro cinematic provides the sense that this is a very emotional tale. Yet, the anime style and sometimes childish, but pure, behavior of the personage and how things are presented may just not be of your liking. It’s not a problem at all.

Would you prefer to focus either on the gameplay, or maybe on your role throughout the game’s story? Well, both ways of playing are possible and both of these shall satisfy your thirst for this kind of game, assuming you’re into the genre. What we mean is that gamers that just want to jump directly into action as well as those that want to explore everything that’s offered will have a great time!
We wrote this in hope to help you get in touch with the most relevant aspects of the game. Hopefully it’s relevant and our opinions will help you out discovering if this is a game you’d like playing.

Some 7s
Some 7s

(Initial) Plot

In this game you’ll experience a tale about war (and peace!) in a continent called Europa. Love, friendship, loyalty, genocide, discrimination, affection ruling over blood relation (a contemporary tendency on the juridical sphere, in the real world) and more are also in the game, but we should not enumerate all of these so that we don’t spoil anything the storyline reveals as you play. For us, it was such a nice sequence of events that it became hard not to finish it.

You play as Welkin Gunther, son of a very important military figure that has passed away, but also, you’ll play as Gallia’s Militia Squad 7 members as soon as you advance the first stages of the game.
Gallia is a lovely, neutral small country. It has huge reserves of Ragnite, which is a scarce mineral used as energy source. The Empire (East European Imperial Alliance) and the Federation (Atlantic Federation), the two factions that rule over the Europa continent are at war and some of their interests are revealed later on.

The Empire makes a strong effort and repel the Federation back. This creates the opportunity for the Empire forces to invade Gallia and explore the Ragnite reserves.

Bruhl is a town in Gallia. Near the border with the lands the Federation control. Welkin is returning to it from his studies. He was many years away from home, but rapidly happens to be on the beginning of the military offensive for taking Gallia. Just before the act of aggression, you meet Alicia, from Bruhl’s Town Guard. She takes Welkin under custody for suspecting he’s one the Empire’s spies.

Isara, Welkin’s sister, finds the small convoy and confirms that he is a ‘harmless’ citizen, back there to help her evacuate before the invasion comes underway. All this, just in time for an Empire’s scout team to reach them and some evacuating citizens, then begin to spread horror in the form of violent acts.

In order to defend Gallia and his loved ones, Welkin enlists on the Militia and that’s when you first manage the Squad 7. That’s when we start greater deeds!

Valkyria Chronicles

Characters

The members of Gallia’s militia, Squad 7, vary on age and features. Each one has a unique storyline, pros and cons potentials that affect their yield on the battlefield.

Welkin, Isara, Alicia, Largo and Rosie are some of the most important members of the crew in terms of participation on the gameplay events. It’s also evidenced because they add one Action Point to every turn they’re part of the crew you choose for the battles. It’s always great to have them on battlefield so that the game events make more sense and also because of the tactical advantage of having more APs (Action Points) for every turn you keep them alive.

Since the first dialogs, you’ll note with the intonation and expressions that there’s an invitation for diving on the emotions the characters act for. The immersion on the story depends, pretty much, on how well you adapt to the anime like graphics and on absorbing the messages bound to the feelings brought with the heavy outbreak a war represents.

Not that this is as complex as it sounds, but we’ve seen feedback from players that just skipped the story events and went objectively for the gameplay, which is totally acceptable. Although you’d be dropping heavy content away; content that may turn your idea about the game from good to spectacular. That kind of content!

This emphasis around skipping episodes has a reason: We’d like to warn that you’ll be missing one of the features we elect as very important for the game and what it stands for, through its story. In this case, however, you’ll still have an extensive campaign to play! So, not that huge of a prejudicial merit. Just play as you prefer, but be aware of it.

The characters are awesome and we think that each of them deserve a proper presentation. We’ve decided not put it in this review, in order to conserve the taste of discovery for each advance you make in the game, for it reveals more and more info about them gradually.

Selvaria Valkyria Attacking
Selvaria Valkyria Attacking

Gameplay

The game is a mix between RPG (J-RPG) and turn based combat, over whose sections the crew is selected and disposed tactically on the field. The possible positions are preset and they should be chosen wisely if you want to achieve victory. It’s not really that easy to advance through every level, above all if you’re aiming on the ‘A’ ranks for every level.

Before each stage begins, the victory and failure conditions are presented.

On your turn, you select which unit you’d like to move from an overview perspective, then you move it and act from the third person view perspective.

Movement is limited by a bar that indicates how much one can move each turn. Using the same unit on the same turn makes it deplete the movement bar faster. The turn goes on until you use all of the available Action Points, or decide to end it before spending every APs, so that these will add to the amount of Action Points to be used on the next turn, with the maximum limit of 20 Action Points summed up.

Some complexity comes from how well you choose to position units and how you move them, as well as attack, to reach the objectives. To move until the movement bar depletes is not always the wisest pick. One should focus on strategically positioning before advancing the most.

Take care and keep saving your progress for there is no auto save feature in this game (you have to do it manually!). Therefore, it’s possible that you lose the entire progress if you don’t save it. It happened to us a few times!
Starting stages back from scratch is what we’ve been doing while playing Valkyria Chronicles, because it seemed more interesting to explore other possibilities of how well would it be if we’d done it different, positioning units, moving them, or exploring other strategies within each terrain configuration. This adds to the replayability of the game.

Valkyria Chronicles

Classes

Units are divided into classes: Scout, Sniper, Shocktrooper, Lancer and Engineer. Tank Commander is also a category, but they cannot level up like the other classes.

● Scouts are able to move much further, they’re your eyes on the battlefield;

Some 7s and Ms Ellet
Some 7s and Ms Ellet

● Snipers can damage units over the distance, exceptional keys on some stages;
● Shocktroopers deal a greater amount of damage on enemy foot mobile units;
● Lancers can damage mechanical units, essential on many stages;
● Engineers can fix friendly mechanical units but also replenish ammo for friendly units (foot mobile and mechanical), you’ll use them a lot too;
● Tank Commanders need two Action Points to move, cause a great amount damage to any unit and serve as obstacle to block direct enemy incoming fire.

Each class can carry distinct equipment and more becomes available as you pick up enemy gear or achieve certain requirements on each phase. The equipment available for every class can receive upgrades as you progress. These upgrades will cost more and more resources, so the better the ranks you achieve in each chapter, the more you can improve your gear at the R&D Facility between each stage.

Interface

valkyriachronicles12It’s been a while since this ‘reviewer’ has played games on consoles. Being this a gem from the last gen (a PS3 exclusive, ported later to PC), I think it’s fair to say that it rescues that kind of friendly interface we used to see on such titles as Zelda – Ocarina of Time, from Nintendo 64. That kind of stuff that captivates your will to come back and continue unfolding the story, although they’re not the same kind of game, nor platform.

You’ll hardly find any difficulty when it comes to explanation on what is available on every portion of the game, from the game mechanics to the availability of features offered, like the access to music and characters’ potentials.

A huge amount of background content is there to be explored. The history of Europa receive lots of detailing that justify the web of nexus that raise the written plot to a plausible baseline. Every weapon you can use has a log that defines which faction produced it, when it happened, what it is better used for, just to exemplify.

Tank Attack 1
Tank Attack 1

Did we mention that every character has also a narrative that situate them? They can be experienced or new to combat, have better sets for a determined kind of terrain and act better as a group, or even act better when they’re close to a character from the opposite sex. They may have come from a poor family that has been passing difficulties caused by war, or have lost a loved one. Everything makes sense, the ideas over which everyone is and what makes they want to fight a war is left for us to connect the points tightly.

It’s possible that you get bored to keep reading every log made available because of the constant updates as you advance the stages. The wide range of issues these logs are addressed to may get you tired from following them until they are completely revealed. Again, if that bothers you, just skip it!

Some other thoughts about this game

You can give your units Order Commands at the cost of some Action Points. They may seem to cost a lot, but the player shall end up learning the importance of sacrificing a small portion of tactical maneuverability to increase its effects once you reach a given turn objective with the adequate unit.

Players are granted Medals for achieving certain conditions during the stages. Some are very hard to get. If you plan to get them all, we recommend that you take extra care with saving your game data and handling your units on the battlefield.

Note that, on stages, taking out the enemy units assigned with the effect of adding Action Points for the enemy turns, in the fewer quantity of turns are requirements for reaching ‘A’ ranks at the end of every level.
Having ‘A’ ranks will also help a lot with upgrading equipment on the R&D Facility, revealing part of the story through sponsoring Ms. Ellet’s with her writings, advancing units up with the levels and learning new orders!
The game’s music content can’t be left behind as well! Through the sessions, you may familiarize with the soundtrack. Songs like “A Love Passed On” (both Orchestral and Original versions), “Battling Bravely”, “Breaking Through”, “A Duel Against Legend”, “Showdown”, Against the Odds”, “Awakening” are great. The feel is that they fit the game perfectly!

In addition to it all, we’d like to point that, despite it being a single player game, the time required to finish it is considerable! Took us many hours to reach the game apex (30ish hours registered in the save game, considering you won’t go for the A ranks or use any sort of guide, but around 70 hours of gameplay – this without playing the extras!).

 

Empire Army Ready for CombatValkyria ChroniclesTank Edelweiss Ready

Conclusion

In our opinion, Valkyria Chronicles stands as one of those remarkable games we’ve had the pleasure of playing. The characters are captivating (you’ll have a hard time trying to avoid losing any of them); classes and stages are richly designed and appreciable. The soundtrack is amazing, the anime art style is beautiful and the tale unfolded is just so interesting and enjoyable! This game has a lot of attention to detail − in terms of functionality; not necessarily graphically − and will entertain you for many hours, that’s for sure!

If you have the chance, go for it! You’ll infinitesimally hardly regret it.

What an astonishing game!

Making a retrospective to highlight pros and cons, we’d have

Pros:

● Charismatic characters
● Passionately written
● Great art style, voice acting and narrative
● Extremely friendly interface (*with one exception, see cons list)
● Well-designed stages
● Game extension despite it is a single player
● Music fits the game perfectly
● English and Japanese audio available

Cons:

● *Can’t exit the game via menu (Need to press Alt+F4)
● You have to watch every enemy turn (Not that bad)
● No auto save (Don’t forget to save your progress!)
● 30 fps port (the reviewer didn’t really think this matters)

P.S.: Please, note that some of the main themes of the game, such as the Darcsens, the Valkyryans, and the relations these may have with real historical events are not being clarified in order to maintain the game storyline completely unspoiled!

Hopefully, the insight we intend with this review has been achieved.

Do you think this is a game you’d like playing? Have you already played it?
Comment below!

Valkyria Chronicles
Genre: Action, RPG, Strategy
System: PC (Also available for PS3)
Price: €19.99 / $19.99 / R$36,99
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA

Mega Gallery!

Every screenshot was made by us using the Steam version. This game was provided by the publisher for review purposes, check our review policy for details.

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