Valkyria Chronicles originally released for the PS3 on September 23, 2008 in the U.S. It received two sequels for the PSP in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Sadly, the third was never localized and the series was in hibernation until the first game was ported to Steam in 2014, which brings us to the present. Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is based off of that PC port. With that snippet of history out of the way, let’s get to work.
Two countries in Europa are warring over the resource, Ragnite, which brings them both to the neutral country of Gallia. The Empire strikes the border town of Bruhl and is fended off by a war hero’s son, Welkin, his adopted sister, Isara, and the town watch guard, Alicia. The three escape to the capital, joining up with Gallia’s forces to fight back the Empire as Squad 7. A story modeled after WWII infused with steampunk and anime influences, as weird as that may sound, combine amazingly well. The best parts of the narrative reside in the side stories encompassing Squad 7’s members. It can be cliché at times, and it definitely takes awhile to get going, but it still holds up relatively well.
While the story is great, the best part of VC is the battle system. It’s a combination of strategy RPGs and third-person cover shooters. Players choose members of Squad 7 to participle in each mission and said characters are placed into five classes: Engineers, Lancers, Scouts, Shocktroopers, and Snipers. Scouts, for example, have a long range of movement and are generally intended to scope out the area for enemies. Lancers, on the other hand, have a short range of movement, high defense, and are great for taking on tanks. On that note, Welkin and Isara pilot a Squad 7’s tank making them a special class all their own. Obviously some classes are more useful on certain missions, but as there’s no information prior to venturing out, it’s best to come prepared with a good mix.
Characters level up as a unit, increasing every hero in that class. Jobs even evolve through time, granting troops access to new abilities and weapons. This system is simple but inviting to players to rotate party members more often. Other RPGs with large casts, like Suikoden, rarely have any kind of experience share, making it a tough choice on whom to chose. A new hero may look great, but if they’re significantly lower than the previous party, well, the point is obvious. Valkyria Chronicles may lack individual customization, but seeing as they are soldiers in a war, it makes sense contextually.
As to the gameplay itself, a gauge of golden medals represents the amount of moves players can act in a single turn. Tanks cost two, soldiers cost one, and issuing orders, such as healing the party, vary in cost. A single unit can be used repeatedly, but their effectiveness, such as their movement range, lowers with each consecutive selection. On said movement, characters have a free range to move wherever they want, with enemies shooting freely as they do so. Attacking causes the game to freeze, allowing players to aim precisely on their enemies. Targeting the broad area of the body results in better accuracy, but aiming for the head will do more damage. Characters can also take cover by sandbags, or eve lay low in grass resulting in increased evasiveness.
While there is no permadeath like in the similar strategy RPG franchise Fire Emblem, it retains the difficulty. Grinding for levels and better gear is a must as is a tactful mind when it comes to movement. Going in guns blazing in the open will result in quick deaths. It can be frustrating at times as enemies often times have the advantage, but it’s this challenge that makes VC so rewarding and addicting.
For this writer, Valkyria Chronicles looks as beautiful as it did back on the PS3. Its use of cel-shading is more akin to a painting than a cartoon. That said, even without the improved visuals, it would still hold up. The music is great along with the voice cast. However, some of the delivery is awkwardly paced and the lip-syncing looks silly at times. Other than that it runs great, is chalk full of content, and is, well, fantastic in every other respect.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is a timeless treasure that’s as good now as it was eight years ago. It’s virtually the same game except for the aforementioned improved visuals and access to all the original DLC. It’s not new and it’s barely changed, but how can one improve a masterpiece anyway? Exactly. They can’t and they don’t have to. To those that missed out on one of the best PS3 RPGs, please, don’t pass this one up again.
Score: 5/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review copy. This article was originally published on May 10, 2016 via my Examiner account before the website shut down. Check out the supporting video review on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.