Love in the time of battle tanks.
“Valkyria Chronicles is a game that all PS3 owners should at least try out, especially considering its unique blend of genre forms. With such a robust collection of extras to back up an already impressive mission roster and gripping story, Valkyria Chronicles comes highly recommended. I strongly encourage you to try it out and see the beauty of Gallia and its people.”
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is a remaster done right. It’s a great way to experience a truly brilliant tactical RPG, or an excuse to revisit a cult classic that has aged with grace and beauty. And while you’ve likely encountered some of its themes in similar stories, Valkyria Chronicles’ war tale is told with such charm and wit that it’s hard not get wrapped up in Squad 7’s adventures from the jump.
Valkyria Chronicles adds a nice twist to the turn-based strategy formula by allowing players to take direct control of individual units and move them on the map in third person. This system puts each encounter somewhere between traditional tactics and shooters, as you line up head-shots and subsequently run for cover, hopefully before your Action Points run out and you potentially find yourself stranded in enemy crossfire. Your squad-mates only get one action per turn, which makes for some painstaking decision-making in the face of relentless enemies. Do you heal now to prepare for a counter-attack or fire off one head-shot at the risk of immediate retaliation?
It’s a great way to experience a truly brilliant tactical RPG.
There are dozens of these moments in every battle, and each is as nerve-racking as the one before it. It’s a brilliant mechanic that encourages careful unit management, rewards precision, and keeps combat genuinely exciting from start to finish. This is particularly important, as you’ll probably wind up playing more than a few of the game’s encounters multiple times before achieving victory.
The challenge here is rarely frustrating or repetitive, and while the learning curve is steep, it never feels unfair. Even when you find Squad 7 facing giant war-machines, fighting a seemingly insurmountable number of enemy troops, or crawling through the tall grass to avoid enemy spotlights, I found that if I took the time to prepare my troops and choose the right number in each class that victory was always within reach, even in the most daunting battles.
All that tension led to a true feeling of accomplishment when all my smart decisions culminated in white-knuckled, down-to-the-last-man victories. Conversely, if you don’t bring enough Lancers and Scouts to take out enemy tanks and shocktroopers, you can find yourself staring at a game over screen in a handful of turns.
Outside of Valkyria Chronicles’ battles, the rest of the game is mostly comprised of cutscenes. You can return to headquarters to reallocate troops, upgrade weapons and armor, and pay your respects to fallen soldiers, but the rest of the game is mainly comprised of cutscenes – loads and loads of cutscenes. Granted, the story told here is engaging and thoughtful, with a rich cast of compelling characters, even if the voice acting is occasionally hit or miss.
It’s the little touches that make the world of Valkyria Chronicles so captivating.
Even the lowliest grunt on your squad has a backstory or interesting quirk that further compelled me to keep them alive. By the end, I found myself rooting for random scouts and snipers that I had taken with me onto the field and watched rise through the ranks. Each of these characters has innate buffs or weaknesses based on these backstories, and they even perform better when they’re paired with troops they are pals with. For example, if your fight is in the desert, you want to take someone with an affinity for fighting in the sand and couple them with a friend to add an easy bonus to their attack or defense. It encourages mixing up your team and taking different troops to different locales. It’s little touches like this that make the world of Valkyria Chronicles so captivating.
Valkyria Chronicles’ art direction is easily one of its most impressive aspects, and now that it runs at 1080p and 60 frames-per-second, the Canvas engine that powers the gorgeous “sketchbook” art style looks better than ever. It’s surprising how well the visuals have stood the test of time, and even more impressive is how instantly recognizable they are here. Saying that Valkyria Chronicles is inspired by World War II is a bit of an understatement and the cel-shaded battle tanks and armor are lovingly rendered, lending a genuine believability to the game’s alternate history motif.
Unfortunately, as far as re-releases go, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered delivers the bare minimum. The original DLC missions and an Expert difficulty are also included, if you’re a glutton for punishment. Outside of that there are no additional bells and whistles, which is a bit disappointing, but it doesn’t tarnish the overall shine of the game itself.