Review: Valkyria Chronicles Remastered [PS4]

Release Date
17/5/2016
Platform
PlayStation 4
Publisher / Developer
SEGA
Genre
Strategy Role-Playing
Player(s)
Single-player
Rating
PEGI 16

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is finally here and I’m excited. Sadly, I never got round to playing the original version on PlayStation 3, but was always attracted to the unique art style – as well as the strategy role-playing aspect. Now, I finally get my hands on this exciting title, and in 1080p at 60 frames-per-second no less!

Set in what is essentially a re-imagining of World War II, Valkyria Chronicles follows our unlikely hero Welkin Gunther, as he and Squad 7 try to stand up to the unstoppable Empire. In a world where all technology runs on an all-purpose energy source known as Ragnite when this starts to become scarce war inevitably starts to brew. In the fictional setting of Europa, loosely based on Europe, a conflict is already gripping the continent between East Europan Imperial Alliance (The Empire) and the Atlantic Federation. The Empire, where Ragnite has indeed become scarce, has set their sights on the small and neutral country of Gallia for their Ragnite rich soil.

In the initial stages of invasion, Welkin’s village, Bruhl, which sits on the border between Gallia and the Empire, is attacked and quickly overrun by soldiers. Thankfully, the village had already been mostly evacuated save for a few including Welkin, Alicia Melchiott and Isara Gunther. With some civilians still not evacuated, Welkin joins Alicia in holding off the Empire and eventually reunites and commands his and Isara’s fathers tank, the Edelweiss. After this valiant effort, Welkin soon finds himself in command of Gallian Militia’s Squad 7.

The story of Valkyria Chronicles starts rather simple but quickly delves into topics such as patriotism and racism. It plays out in chapters that feature bitesize episodes that you can take one at a time. The game does a great job of separating the main overarching plot and the more personal character interactions. If you felt so inclined you could bypass the little side stories altogether although they don’t take up too much time and are pretty interesting. The menu system is also a nice touch as it’s laid out as a history book where the story is progressed through each chapter but you can switch tabs to visit the headquarters, play skirmish and glossaries for characters, weapons etc.

Missions can be a real shock to the system at first but you quickly fall in love with the wonderfully unique system. It’s like a fusion of turn-based strategy and real-time third-person shooter. Each turn you get a set amount of command points which allows you to move your units. Once you have taken control of a unit you appear on a fully 3D map in the third person where you can move said unit into position and perform an action. The difference to normal turn-based strategy games is that in Valkyria Chronicle you’re susceptible to gunfire while moving. This gives the strategy element new depth as knowing when to advance or retreat is never more important; never underestimate the value of taking cover. Each unit class has its own strengths and weaknesses and knowing when and how to use them will be key in taking down the Empire.

The difficulty can spike pretty hard but having the right units with you can be the difference-maker. If you have to make trouble on a particular mission then playing some skirmishes to gain some experience and money would not be a bad thing. Interestingly, experience is used to level up whole unit classes rather than individual units. Money can be used on upgrading your weapons and tank loadout giving you a real edge in battle, but make sure to keep updating or you might find yourself getting taken out easily.

Missions become quite lengthy as you progress through the game, but as the story gets deeper and a lot more intriguing you can’t help but push through. The watercolour art style just looks fantastic and while graphically speaking it’s not the most impressive by today’s standards it positively jumps out of the screen. Now running in 1080p at 60 frames-per-second is definitely the best way to experience this game and it’s a great chance for those like me who missed out first time around.

Verdict
Having missed out on Valkyria Chronicles during it initial release on PlayStation 3 back in 2008, I'm overjoyed that it’s now available on PlayStation 4 in the form of a remaster, boasting 1080p at 60 frames-per-second. This brilliant real-time, turn-based strategy fusion has quickly become one of my favourite games of the year. It’s been a real joy to play and I’ll be playing it to death for the foreseeable future. Now we just have to wait for the sequels to get remastered for PS4 too.
9
GREAT