Platform(s): Playstation 3 and Steam
Rated: T for teen
Release Date: April 24, 2008 (PS3 release date)
I am not a big war or strategy genre fan, but this game was just too good to pass up. I had it on a wish list online for the longest time, and I finally decided to pass by a local GameStop and pick it up. I hadn’t heard much about it and only checked out some gameplay online and reviews from GameRankings, but I don’t regret purchasing it. Not only is it just like an anime, but the character development is deep and involved. It touches on various topics from racial tensions to leadership and working as a team.
Let’s dive right into the story, so you can find out a little more of the background of this amazing, yet overlooked game.
In 1935 C.E., Europa has two forces vying for its territory, the East Europan Imperial Alliance (like the European Union I guess?) in the east and the democratic Atlantic Federation to the west. Ragnite is what everyone wants, and since the mineral is becoming scarce the Empire (Imperial Alliance) decides to go to war with the Federation to gain more of it.
This starts the Second Europan War in which the Empire goes on the offensive and begins to take down the Federation. They decide to attack the Principality of Gallia to take its Ragnite. The town of Bruhl in Gallia is under siege so Welkin Gunther, son of war hero General Belgen Gunther, and Alicia Melchiott the town watch captain, decide to join the Gallian militia to fight back.
Welkin is given the rank of Lieutenant to lead Squad 7, a rag tag bunch of soldiers that have to do some seriously dangerous missions to beat back the Empire and its plots led by Prince Maximillian.
There are a few cuss words (b****) but not that much, and very rare. Women are dressed modestly in the game, but one character named Selvaria Bles (you’ll know who I’m talking about) has abnormally large breasts. To me, this was just fan service but she is not under-dressed.
Violence is not gory, but there are a lot of weapons used from snipers to tanks to machine guns.
Strategy genre fans will not be disappointed in Valkyria Chronicles. It starts off simple enough but every level grows in difficulty. As you progress in chapters, you’ll notice that the enemies get smarter, stronger, and the terrain is harder to progress through.
The battle system is called BLiTZ (Battle of Live Tactical Zones), which shows you a map in Action Mode. Everything is real time and you have an AP gauge which will run out after you use it up and your turn is over. If your base is captured, Welkin is killed (if present) or certain goals aren’t met you lose. You can also issue Orders which improve skills, heal, and perform artillery strikes and more.
Before each battle you have a briefing, positioning of units, and then you deploy. The units you can choose from are lancers, snipers, shock troopers, scouts, or engineers. Each performs different skills and have various weaknesses and strengths or weapons. You have to be sure to choose the right combinations and make sure they don’t die because it’s crucial to victory. If a character dies, they are permanently gone from the game so be sure to restart the battle if that happens (unless you don’t care about said character). While you are in battle, you can aim for headshots, destroy trees or objects in your way, or hide behind a wall to avoid enemy fire.
You are able to go back and play through any areas you’ve won, and there are extra battles too that I would suggest playing to get additional experience points and better weapons (You will need it!). Make sure you train your troops at the barracks, gain new skills when visiting the graveyard, or upgraded your gear at the R&D lab.
Each battle often has its own difficulties, so don’t think that because the last one was a breeze that the next one will be. From crossing a desert landscape during a sandstorm to avoiding snipers on rooftops, you will be challenged and pushed every time. Capturing the enemies bases keeps them from calling on reinforcements, and sneaking up on them gives you the advantage before you get surrounded.
Valkyria Chronicles is full of beautiful animations and interactions with the environment. Everything you do from footsteps to gunfire to shouts of pain from the enemy is highlighted. You truly feel that you are there and every move you make matters.
The soundtrack lets you know everything that is going on, from when you are in danger to when you have won a battle. Sound effects go well with the game as well, from commands like “Medic!” to “Go, go, go!” Everything has dialogue, though it can get a little monotonous at times because of all the battles that you will be part of.
The characters are one of my favorite aspects of this game. You see them grow from chapter to chapter, and you truly get to know them and how they got to be a part of Squad 7. The game deals with the characters’ personal issues like Bridgitte “Rosie” Stark’s prejudice to Darcsens or Welkin Gunther becoming a leader that his squad can trust. There are lots of cut scenes between the fights, which are sometimes pretty long and progress the plot. They have to be watched in order to continue, but it feels like you’re watching a TV show waiting to see what happens in the next episode.
The environments the battles take place in like the towns, deserts, plains, or camps are all unique. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it keeps things interesting.
There are many types of people that will enjoy this game, from otaku to strategy and RPG fans alike. Even if you’ve never picked up a war/strategy title, you will not regret picking this one up. Prepare to get lost in the world of Europa and the war between the Empire and the Federation.
Be sure to purchase it below for a digital copy to play on Steam or get it for your PS3!
The Bottom Line
Valkyria Chronicles brings a fresh take on the strategy genre that I have yet to see duplicated. It has a deep story, realistic characters and lots of feeling. If you enjoy RPGs, anime or games about war then you need to pick up this classic.