Valkyria Chronicles Remastered for the PS4 isn’t as much of a remaster as it is a $30 port of the PC game that was a re-release of the original PS3 game. Like the PC version, this edition comes with all of the DLC and runs at 1080P and 60 FPS. So why would you want the PS4 version? If you have never played any of the Valkyria games, then this new release is a great place to jump in. If you have already played the PS3 version, then the addition of trophies may be a nice selling point. If you have the game on PC already, then you’re not missing out on anything. This is the same game that was released on Steam back in 2014.
Valkyria Chronicles was first released on the PS3, then followed by two sequels. Only one of those two were released outside of Japan and both were only released on the PSP. Sega is releasing a new Valkyria game in Japan this year and it’s obvious that Chronicles is a way to gauge some new interest in the franchise in the West.
Valkyria Chronicles follows a small team of militia soldiers known as Squad 7, led by Tank Commander Welkin Gunther. The year is 1935 E.C. and war has broken out over land that holds a valuable resource known as Ragnite. This is a special mineral that is used to power homes, vehicles, lights, weapons and even medical equipment. When the East Europan Imperial Alliance (or the Empire for short) begins attacking the people of Galia for their Ragnite-filled land, the country’s militia is forced to fight in what’s known as the Second Europan War.
Caught in this war is the game’s main protagonist, Welkin Gunther. Gunther must lead Squad 7 to victory using his wits and unconventional way of thinking. Alongside Welkin is a healthy amount of supporting characters, like Alicia, Largo and Rosie, to name a few.
Valkyria Chronicles sports a fantastic ‘canvas’ look that holds up to this day and looks even better in HD. The whole game has a nice mix of manga and anime. In fact, the anime based on the game uses the same look. You’ll notice that the edges of the screen have an unfinished look where you can see models slightly off screen that will have a sketch look to them. It’s fun to see certain effects like searchlights not show up and outlines of characters being uncolored.
If you have ever played the first Valkyria Chronicles, then you will be familiar with the BLiTZ mechanic. This allows the player to make precise strategic decisions which, in turn, allows for more than a “point and hope for the best” approach.
There are two parts to a turn, known as phases. Players will be able move their characters around, attack, call in reinforcements, or give out special orders. One turn is defined as both the player and the AI making their moves. The game has a turn limit, usually set at 20 turns, so it is important to keep up with how many turns have passed. If the player exceeds this limit, they will automatically fail the mission. Keeping an eye on the amount of turns used, the position of known enemies and allies, knowing where an enemy unit is moving, and what classes the enemy is using are things that players should be prepared to face.
Depending on their class, a character can move a certain distance. For example, Scouts have a lot of action points and can move further than any other class, whereas Snipers have very limited AP and can barely move around the map. During each turn, within a phase, a character can move around freely and attack once per turn. This can be overlooked depending on a character’s class, however. Scouts and Shock Troopers have unlimited ammo and can attack multiple times as long as the player has the turns to utilize them. Other classes, like the Lancer, has a set amount of ammo that will refill after each phase or if a engineer hands them extra.
As the game’s story progresses, new options and upgrades become available. There are plenty of things to unlock: new weapons, armor, information, order skirmishes, and medals earned after meeting certain milestones. Once unlocked, the player can train their soldiers by class to level them up and gain new abilities. Since it’s by class, everybody who is in said class will receive the experience, even if they were recruited late into the game.
The same rule applies to weapons. At certain points in the game, the R&D department will have new upgrades ready for purchase. This includes better accuracy or damage. Players must choose which weapon is important to upgrade, and after a few upgrades, some weapons will split off into paths forcing players to choose between higher accuracy or go for an upgrade that will place negative affects on the enemy.
The Edelweiss tank that Welkin commands can also be upgraded. This uses the same currency that players need to upgrade their foot soldiers. Armor can be upgraded to help protect the tank’s tread or new weapons can be installed to give the Edelweiss more firepower.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered still has some issues within the game’s mechanics. Because the game plays by chance at times, it’s possible to miss or get hit by game turning moves. At one section in the game, my tank was being attacked by a lancer. The game registered the attack as a miss, but the lancers rocket ended up hitting one of my soldiers that was near the tank. Needless to say, that character was taken out.
Very rarely does the hit detection bug out. When I sent my scout to attack a enemy at close range, the game calculated a few of the shots as misses, which happens often at the beginning of the game. But the issue is that the bullet clearly went through the enemy soldier and came out of the other side. These kind of frustrations are few and far between, so when it did happen, it was highly noticeable. This can become an issue because the game features permadeaths, so if one of your squad members runs out of health, you have three turns to reach that person before they die for good, unless the enemy reaches them first.
You must use a foot soldier to save a fallen comrade, as well. The tank cannot capture enemy posts or save friendlies though, oddly enough, the AI can take your camp using a tank. The AI can be a little wonky. Sometimes it will play smart and try to flank your squad and force you to change up how you advance, but most of the times it would just run around in a circle just to waste turns instead of saving them up. The game wouldn’t utilize tanks unless I crossed a certain part of the map, but it would send foot soldiers to their death like they were nothing. At first, I thought it made sense: why waste your tank when you know the enemy is moving up? But even the tank-killing lancers would choose to stay back for unknown reasons.
Both the player and the AI can use a turn to call in reinforcements from their own camp(s). The AI won’t hesitate to do this, though it’s too bad that it only calls in more Shock Troopers and Scouts. While the game can be challenging, it’s obvious that the AI mostly follows a set path, and the only thing that gives it the edge during battles is that it will always have slightly better weapons than the player.
A quarter way into the story, the game introduces magic, and the game goes from an enjoyable challenging strategy game to an enjoyable challenging strategy game with anime logic thrown into the mix. But don’t let that turn you away – the magic nonsense is mostly for story purposes.
While we’re on the topic of the story, Valkyria Chronicles has an issue with letting players enjoy the challenging gameplay. The game is heavily focused on its story. Each chapter of the game is filled with cutscenes and only one playable mission. A few rare chapters will have two missions that connect the cutscenes together. The game’s story tries to cover racism, loyalty and war at the same time and does a decent job at keeping it interesting, at first. By Chapter 10, the game will have beaten you with the same ideology over and over again, to the point where it feels like nothing is actually being said anymore.
There are a race of people called Darcsens. Most of Europa hates them because they are seen as an inferior race. One of the members of Squad 7, Isara Gunther, is a descendant of this race and is often ridiculed by two of her squad mates. At one moment, Largo and Rosie openly show their hatred towards Isara. The next: they make nice with her, and it seems that they learned their lesson about how Isara is no more different than them, but a few chapters later, Rosie continues to belittle Isara and her race. This would have been alright if the story would choose to fixate on that story. Instead, it introduces another Darcsen character to give Rosie an excuse to show her hatred for them…you know, in case you missed it every other time she opened her mouth.
The game just can’t seem to find the voice it thinks it has. Welkin will often go on about coexistence and nature without actually saying anything. He just keeps finding different ways to repeat himself. And that’s honestly Valkyria Chronicles Remastered‘s biggest fault: the overstuffed preachy dialogue and story. You don’t see the war take an actual effect on the characters; they never change or really grow.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered offers a fun, challenging strategy game with interesting characters that have some the most dull, repetitive dialogue. If that sounds odd, it should. I liked my time with a few of the Squad 7 members, but I never got a sense of connection with these characters. It just felt like everybody was going through the motions because they were forced to, even after running a mission to gain their trust.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is just that – a remaster, and not a remake, which is kind of disappointing. Chronicles could have definitely benefited from an online skirmish mode or, at the very least, added Chronicles 2 to spark interest in Chronicles 3 or the upcoming Japan-only Valkyria: Azure Revolution. At just $30 USD, however, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered makes for a great addition to the PS4’s library and will hopefully convince SEGA to release the rest of the series to the West.
This review is based on a early review copy provided by SEGA
Get real time updates about future posts directly on your device, subscribe now.