Valkyria Chronicles Remastered (PlayStation 4) Review

By Az Elias 10.05.2016 2

Review for Valkyria Chronicles Remastered on PlayStation 4

A beloved strategy title from 2008 returns, remastered on PlayStation 4. SEGA's Valkyria Chronicles was received remarkably well upon release, but didn't perform as hoped financially. Although a sequel appeared on the PSP, the third entry on the same platform didn't make it outside of Japan. Perhaps things could have looked quite different for the series had the original title sold a few more copies, but the recent news of a spin-off for PS4 in the form of Valkyria: Azure Revolution bodes well for the franchise looking to return to the home console front. Eight years on, the original is released once more, following a Steam version, under the guise of Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, which was given an early look last month. Is it all it was made out to be, and how does it fare today?

Basing itself loosely on the events of World War II, Valkyria Chronicles makes it a point to drive home the tragic events of war, beginning right from the outset when the lead characters' peaceful hometown in Gallia is invaded by the Imperial Army. Welkin, Alicia and Isara soon find themselves enlisted into the Gallian army, hoping to drive back and defeat their powerful enemy, whose goal is to conquer not just Gallia, but the entire world. Before long, it comes to pass that the foe has an incredible weapon on its side, bearing a striking resemblance to a legendary lance of an ancient race long thought extinct, wielded by a dangerous silver-haired woman.

Not entirely memorable, but not exactly bad, either, the story passes the acceptable route it needs to take in order to convey what it needs to. Various trope characters fill roles in order to show development, but the voice acting gets particular mention for being on the decent side, especially as far as pop-up dialogue boxes go, with characters speaking only after player input to advance text, whilst cut-scenes fill up the remainder of the game, including the more important parts of chapters that set up and follow each mission. Leading man Welkin is a bit of a soft lad and not the most appealing main character, with his obsession for nature often being force fed into every opportunity possible. It's his kindness that takes precedence over everything else, though, and that's not a bad thing at all, of course.

Screenshot for Valkyria Chronicles Remastered on PlayStation 4

The members of Squad 7 are generally all pretty likeable characters, and it's actually the sub-characters that only appear for battle selection that provide plenty of the laughs with their various one-liners that are totally out of place in the battlefield, but add to the light-hearted tone that contrasts the dark side of the coin. Whilst death and loss is the prime theme, there is a strong racist element that contributes to the harsh climate, and naturally helps progress character personalities later in the game. There is also excellent balance in terms of male and female representation throughout the squad, although it is sad to see some of the main female characters being rather submissive.

Where Valkyria Chronicles steps up its originality is in its strategic battles, which come around surprisingly quickly between cut-scenes, to say this is still a game in the RPG vein. Spread over a number of chapters, a squad of units is picked and positioned onto the map at fixed points (although some battles use predetermined units, depending on the scenario), with players picking the best or their favourites from a range of types, including scouts, Shocktroopers, Lancers, engineers and snipers. Each has its pros and cons, with only Lancers able to take down tanks with considerable ease, whilst Shocktroopers are ideal for defeating other foot soldiers with multiple shots.

From the bird's eye view map, a unit is selected, and the action then switches down into third-person format, with the chosen character able to run freely to wherever is needed. Movement is limited to an AP bar, which drains as progress is made over the map, and only one instance of firing at the enemy can be made per character turn. Everyone else remains still and fixed in their positions whilst control of the unit is performed, but enemies will automatically attack should their range be entered. This still very much functions like a strategy RPG, but it is so seamlessly brought into third-person in the most natural way possible. Crawl through grass, hide behind walls, crouch behind sandbags, sneak up on enemies - this is all an option during the single move of a unit and thought must be given as to where to leave the character before its AP runs out, else be left in the open and possibly slaughtered during the enemy's phase.

Screenshot for Valkyria Chronicles Remastered on PlayStation 4

Despite remaining tactical, with potential for satisfying taking-outs of enemies through well-thought turns, a lot of the need for clever tactics is offset by, at times, ridiculously poor AI that has the ability to shoot its own comrades or just flat-out ignore its opposition soldiers. Additionally, headshots do increased damage and, therefore, kill foes quicker than going for body shots, so there is never any point to not aim for the head in any given situation. Luck also plays a factor in determining the outcome of battles, with units randomly evading shots and Potentials (special abilities that activate under certain circumstances) applying when they want. It takes the strategy element out of the game, where battles should be decided on skill, and not luck.

This also plays into how Valkyria Chronicles calculates its parameters for achieving an A rank at the end of missions. Bizarrely, getting the best score is not achieved through skill or masterful tactics; it is gained by simply completing the mission objective in as few phases as possible (once all CP has been used, which is required to move units, that is the end of one phase). There is no indicator on how many phases a mission must be done in to get that coveted max award, but it can most often be won by placing a Defense Boost Order on Alicia and using her as a one-woman army, ploughing her through to the goal, which usually consists of claiming the enemy's base by clearing any foes out of it and raising a flag.

Screenshot for Valkyria Chronicles Remastered on PlayStation 4

This is quite odd for a strategy game, where actually performing tactfully doesn't reward the highest marks, but, instead, encourages going on a suicide run and reaching the end in as few phases as possible (usually one). Since most EXP is dished out for A ranks, and since missions cannot be replayed until New Game+, there is a slight dilemma in judging whether to play as the game intends its strategic design to be used, or just charging full steam ahead and throwing everything learned out of the window. To counteract the luck-based gameplay and attempts to score the A ranks, save scumming (saving and loading mid-game) is a well-known method that any previous player will be all too familiar with. With the permadeath system removing KO'd characters from the game forever (albeit only if not being rescued after three turns have passed), it is a trick way too hard to pass up. It should be mentioned that this version does introduce the Expert difficulty mode, removing the option to use Orders, which grant boosted abilities to units, and causing a rethink of strategy all around in many situations.

New elements are introduced at a steady pace, giving time to put each aspect into practice as missions roll around, and whilst the majority of early chapters can be handled easily enough, there is a large difficulty jump in Chapter 7, which has the power to turn people away. This is an important stage in the game, though, because it is when the story finally begins to pick up, and ending here would be doing Valkyria Chronicles a disservice. It is also in this mission that Selvaria shows up to strike genuine anxiety into the battle, as she is capable of wiping units out swiftly. It's unfortunate that there isn't more of that across the game.

Although the main plot may not warrant many further replays, extras packed into the Remastered edition include DLC scenarios featuring Edy and Selvaria, new skirmishes and the aforementioned Expert difficulty setting. On top of this, Trophy support has finally been added, after being absent from the PS3 version, so there is incentive to come back for multiple reasons outside of the central storyline.

Screenshot for Valkyria Chronicles Remastered on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Unique in more ways than one, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered should not be missed by any strategy fan, although is perhaps geared more towards those less experienced in the genre. The dark themes are contrasted through a slight anime-styled and humorous set of characters and gorgeous visuals that give off a comic book impression. It needs sticking with in order to reach the meat of the plot, because there is a decent story in there, even if a little predictable. An overreliance on luck and a gameplay design that goes against the nature of skilful strategy in order to achieve A ranks lets it down, but it is a title that is worth experiencing for its clever take on the SRPG formula.

Developer

SEGA

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

If I have the oringinal on ps3 anything I miss here?

 

Dragon0085 said:
If I have the oringinal on ps3 anything I miss here?

Don't think so. The DLC is available on PS3, right? In which case, apart from slightly smoother graphics and 60fps, not missing anything. This has released pretty cheap, though - like £15 I've seen it going for on PS4 - so could be worth an impulse buy at some point, just for the hell of it.

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