It’s been seven years since I finished Valkyria Chronicles (I was late to the party and played it in 2009). Before Sega’s strategy role playing game, my experience with the genre was virtually non-existent. I ignored the flurry of SRPG titles from original PlayStation era and I never came into contact with the classic XCOMs and Syndicates of the PC world either.
I recall enjoying Valkyria Chronicles very much but it’s been so long that I don’t remember many specifics. I know the turn based and real time hybrid battle system was liberating and novel but I draw blanks whenever I think about the the WWII inspired story.
Playing through Valkyria Chronicles Remastered on the PlayStation 4 was revelatory; I was amazed how much this game got right and how similar it was to XCOM: Enemy Unknown. They both employed a strategic layer for upgrades, recruitment systems and cover based tactical gameplay.
Valkyria Chronicles differed in a number of areas though. For one, the soldiers weren’t generic fodder whom I can rename on a whim. Each recruit had their own quirks and personality and I would feel a tinge of remorse when certain ones died on the battlefield. I love Hershal’s non-chalance. I didn’t care for Noce though. His jealousy towards his superior officer, Lt. Welkin Gunther was too much. I just kept him around because he had other strong skills and was voiced by the same voice actor of Persona 3’s Akihiko.
Before I continue, I have to address the quality of the remastering. The game ran at a perfect 1080p60 and just as I suspected back in 2008, the CANVAS Engine aged beautifully. The only presentation blemishes were the pre-recorded in-engine cutscenes that reminded what the PlayStation 3 version of the game actually looked like. It turns out I was a lot more forgiving with aliasing back then.
I forgot how cutscene heavy this game was. Thankfully they were both skippable and charming. I actually found them more endearing now than before; I even got a little misty eyed in the end. My only complaint was the inability to auto-play through the lines of dialog. They’re all voiced so there’s no reason to have me button through them.
With experience comes confidence and with the likes of XCOM and Fire Emblem under my belt, I found myself attacking Valkyria Chronicles missions head on. I was no longer turtling and relying on Snipers to pick off enemies. I rushed Shock Troopers more often and used defensive Orders to buff Scouts to capture forward field bases. I was also more mindful of spacing and cover this time around as well. As a result I was coming away with higher mission rankings; I traded D’s for B’s and even saw some A’s this time around.
Better mission performances resulted in more resources to improve my squad which enabled me to continue my more aggressive style of play. I could have replayed Skirmish missions for more resources but it wasn’t necessary by the latter half of the game. I wasn’t able to develop every branch of weaponry but I had more than enough to fulfil my selections.
Another revelation which manifested itself due to personal experience was how well Valkyria Chronicles handled various topics and themes common to World War II media. Prejudice, political strife and the tribulations of war were all touched upon. Valkyria Chronicles wasn’t retelling World War II but it leveraged it to great effect. Characters grew as the war progressed and became hardened soldiers with a better understanding of themselves and the world around them, albeit through an anime lens.
Valkyria Chronicles was wonderful then and it’s just as wonderful now. Fans looking to revisit the game can do no wrong with this remaster; it’s just as I remembered it in my mind. For those who have never played it, they’re in for a unique experience that I’ve yet to see replicated. It treads familiar territory with World War II but it executes it better than most “authentic” World War II games that I’ve played. Just look past the overly busty silver haired woman wielding a lance.
I love it
Thanks to Sega for providing me a review copy of Valkyria Chronicles Remastered.