With the PS4 remaster of Valkyria Chronicles launching really soon, it was nice time to finally dedicate some time into playing it after putting it off for so long. Without any real expectations, what I got surpassed a lot of my expectations, but stumbled on its way to the finish line – you can find my review below.
Valkyria Chronicles has a lot going on in its main story, with various sub plots and moments of character development to really strengthen the games world. The strongest element of the game is its main cast, with each character getting their moment to shine and development. The further you get through the game, the more you understand what makes these characters tick and why they do what they do. By the end of the game the main cast have become comrades, and you can see the huge change they went through since the beginning of the game.
The character interactions are also very enjoyable, with what I can only describe as a very downplayed script. What I mean by this is that certain character interactions and reactions don’t result in over the top anime reactions like you’d see in other Japanese games but instead more subtle reactions, like how a person might actually react in that situation.
The best part of the narrative is all the side reports you can do. During the main game you can purchase reports from Ellet, a journalist who is following and documenting the many exploits of Squad 7. As you progress through the game, you’re able to purchase various reports, which are optional side stories that while not required to beat the game, add tons of characterization and development for the main cast. The best story parts in my opinions come from these reports, and I feel should be played if you want the full experience.
What might drag this down for many players is the English dub of the game. While it’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it’s inconsistent to say the least. Some of the voice actors, particularly Welkin’s, have pretty flat delivery. It also doesn’t help that some of the voice mixing is pretty bad, with some moments where the music plays louder than the voice actors.
Valkyria Chronicles has always looked good since its release back in 2008, and the PS4 remaster makes it look even better. The up scaled resolution and improved frame rate make the visuals pop out more so then they did back when they were limited at 720p. The cell shading mixed with sketch drawings style makes the game look more timeless than games that opt for a more photo realistic approach.
The game sticks with its chosen aesthetic and owns it the entire game. It’s also worth mentioning that the pre-rendered cutscenes are absolutely gorgeous and some of the best I’ve seen in a very long time. I was constantly impressed by how good they looked and kept reminding myself that this came out 8 years ago. It was pure eye candy the entire time.
In terms of gameplay, Valkyria Chronicles is a fairly standard strategy RPG, although it does just enough in order to stand out from the competition. For starters it’s not grid based, so you have free reign over your soldier’s movement. To balance this out units can only move a certain distance depending on their class. You can move the same unit multiple times, but each subsequent time they have less and less movement range.
You can only have up to eight units (excluding your tank) per mission, which you can select from a pool of 20 available units. The number of units you can recruit is actually much higher, and you can constantly interchange them throughout the course of the campaign, allowing you to experiment with different soldiers.
With a very large roster to choose from, they’ve made it so that you don’t have to grind each individual unit to make them better, allowing for a lot of flexibility. Instead you level up the specific class, which in turn affects all units who share the same class. Levelling up classes unlocks potentials and orders, and at level 11 they upgrade to elite status.
Potentials are the special abilities the units have when activated, either improve or hinder certain stats. Soldiers will start off with potentials from the get go, and as their levels increase they get more, even unlocking potentials exclusive to that character. Orders can be given by Welkin, which improves the stats and give special properties to either one unit or all units of the map. Orders cost turns, and only one can be used per phase.
You also have access to the R&D shop which allows to upgrade your tank and weapons, with the latter eventually branching off into three different versions (two for Lancers) allowing for even more flexibility on how you want to equip your squad.
The game allows for a lot of team flexibility because of the levelling system. You’ll never be in a position where you regretted using a certain unit, since you can simply swap him or her out for someone else and still reap the benefits. It’s a game that rewards experimentation and won’t punish you if you neglect specific units. What’s also a positive is that even if you don’t plan on using certain units, it’s still worth levelling them up, as certain orders they can provide can prove to be incredibly useful late game.
Unfortunately the game suffers from a pretty bad balance problem passed the half way mark. Scouts easily become the best units in the game, making almost every other unit obsolete. Lancers get the worst of it, as their job can get replaced by Shocktroopers, provided you have the right orders available. Fortunately, there are missions where Lancers shine, but they make up only a fraction of the games length.
Another issue comes in the form of the ranking system. At the end of each mission you’re given a rank between A and D. Each rank will give you bonus money and experience except for D, which gives you no bonus. Your ranking is dependent on how long it takes for you to complete a mission. The go to strategy to get an A rank is to simply rush the enemy base and capture it, ignoring all the enemies along the way. If they found a way to balance this, making it a combination of both speed and how many units you eliminated then I think the problem would be solved.
Valkyria Chronicles has all the makings of a fantastic game, but slightly falls short at the halfway mark due to some balancing issues.
Regardless of this, if you’re looking for a good SRPG with an incredibly likeable cast with a surprising amount of depth to them, then Valkyria Chronicles is not a game you should pass up on, given how much love and care was put into it.
If you already own the PC version, the PS4 version doesn’t really add a lot save the enhanced visuals, unless you simply want to own the limited edition tin, or if you simply want to own every version that exists of the game. I own all three versions of the game anyway, so I don’t see why you shouldn’t complete the collection yourself.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a digital copy provided by Sega. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 8.5
-Great cast of characters
-Gameplay allows for tons of experimentation
-Reports are by far the best aspect of this game
-Voice acting and voice mixing is inconsistent
-Gameplay becomes less balanced after the half-way point