Last week, I talked about the “new” retro shows that are available on Hits TV. While there are some “classic” shows, like Family Ties, that I don’t really care for, there are some really good old shows, such as The Nanny and Three’s Company, that hold up fairly well considering their age. I do enjoy watching these shows as well as a lot of today’s current television programming, but watching TV isn’t the thing that primarily taking up most of my time. Most of my free time is preoccupied in freeing Gallia from the invading forces of the Imperial Empire way back in 1935 EC.
I’m talking about Valkyria Chronicles, of course, one of the best games I’ve ever played.
It actually kind of hard to define why Valkyria Chronicles is such a fantastic game because, well, it really isn’t like any other game out there. It a hybrid of a lot of genes actually. It’s mostly a strategy game where you move and position units in the battlefield. But, in order to move around, you go into this third person view where you use the controller to maneuver them to their desired location. It’s also an RPG because, as you complete missions and skirmishes, you can allocate experience points and money earned to level up your squad and develop new weapons. I guess that’s a huge reason why I enjoy the game as they mesh together the best parts of a lot of gaming tropes and styles really well.
I am aware that this isn’t a new game. I remember my brother got the original PS3 version of Valkyria Chonicles almost a decade ago when it first came out.I watched him play it and I just fell in love with the gaming mechanic and he actually finished the game already. But when I saw the game was now available for the PS4 and was in a fantastic looking “armored” case, I just had to get it.
When I booted up the game for the first time, a flood of memories started flowing into my brain. It sloshed over me like a wave of warm feelings when I saw Welkin and Alicia riding on the Edelweiss and driving along the countryside. It was magical to see Castle Randgriz and then seeing the massive Marmota barrelling through the street. Seeing Isara, Rosie and Largo once again was like being reunited with old friends after not seeing them for a long time. The instant I saw the intro on the PS4 version of the game, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed with my purchase of my first Remastered game.
The game was already incredibly pretty when it was released on the PS3 but, maybe this is just me looking at the game with my rose tinted nostalgia glasses on, but Valkyria Chronicles looks absolutely amazing on the PS4! The cel-shaded watercolor graphics look spectacular and just beautiful. I know it’s running on 1080p now that it’s on the the PlayStation 3’s big brother but, man, it’s just so gorgeous this time around!
While I did watch my brother play before, I never played it myself. I am familiar with the incredibly unique battle system where you position your units and attack in a third person viewpoint but trying it out for myself just felt really good and satisfying. It felt like I was really in control of the unit and any mistakes I made regarding positioning them was my own and not the game. I love how each unit has their own strengths and weaknesses against other units. Tanks are great against most land units but Lancers can take them out with a few hits easy. Scouts can run long distances but have little health. Shocktroopers can soak up damage but lack range and can’t move very far. Engineers can repair tanks and resupply units with grenades but have low health. Snipers have the ability to strike from a distance but can’t move very far and a few hits can take them out immediately. This mixture of units makes the selection of your squad very important and tracking their position so you know they’re safe is integral! Of course, it’s easy to get frustrated when the miss targets that are right in front of them at times, but fine. It’s a quirk.
Not only that, each squad member have their own unique traits that can hinder you on the battlefield. Some people are allergic to dust so including them in desert missions is actually hazardous to their health. Some soldiers hate other soldiers so you can’t bunch them up in the same group. Of course, there are also some people that get buffs as well. Getting the help of a City Kid during a mission in the city raises their defense. Some soldiers even love running into the line of fire as well! Taking note of each soldier’s strengths and weakness is a whole lot of fun and adds a lot to the planning of missions!
Oh, and each member of Squad 7 isn’t just defined by their traits as mentioned above. Each one of them has been given their own personal backstory, really livening up and, I hate to say it, even influenced my selection process. There are some soldiers, like Theold Bohr even though he has some really great stats. But I rarely pick him because he’s a Darcen Hater (I’ll talk more about what Darcens are when I get into the story in a bit)! And I love Darcens! I also hardly pick Susie Evans because of her Humanity “perk” which causes her to freeze when attacking enemies occasionally! I ordered you to shoot, dammit! On the flip side, I always have Jann Walker, the incredibly buff, effeminate Lancer, in my sorties, even though I don’t really need any Lancers. Why? Well, just look at him! Jann just so adorable!
The great characterization definitely extends to the main cast as well. I’ll go talk about the bad guys first because, in all actuality, they’re not so evil. Yes, they are part of the “evil” Imperial Army trying to stomp across Europa but it’s great that they’re motivations are all so varied and different. Lord Maximillian is doing it to earn his birthright and to get revenge. Selvaria Bles is in it to serve Maximillian, as the latter saved the Valkyrur from the Empire’s experiments. Radi Jaeger is just in the war to win his country’s freedom back and Berthold Gregor, well, he’s just a dick.
The main heroes are also written really well. In fact, I loved each and every of the heroes of the militia as they were just so fun to watch. They didn’t really get along but they did form a bond between each other after a few missions. It just felt authentic and believable. Even Rosie who, like other Darcen Haters, didn’t like Isara because of her race, really matured as the game progressed. And I just have to say that I’m still incredibly disappointed that heroine Alicia Melchiott isn’t included in more “best female characters in video games” lists.
While the characters are definitely fantastic and the gameplay is almost perfect, the thing that really drew me in was Valkyria Chronicles’ story and how the story is presented. It’s told like a memoir of what happened during the war. It’s shown in such a way that it feels incredibly engrossing because it’s something that already happened. It’s a part of history and it’s a world that’s already been lived in. But the struggles are based on real life events, such as fighting for ragnite, this world’s version of oil. Because of this, it really does feel like a war that I can understand, even though it’s set in a fictional time period and place.
Valkyria Chronicles also manages to delve into a touchy subject without getting all preachy about it. In the world of Valkyria Chronicles, most people generally look down upon the Darcsen race, a group of people that are believed to have scorched and destroyed the land before the Valkyrias swooped in and stopped them. Of course, there’s much more to this legend but it’s fantastic that a video game can tell a really poignant tale about racism as well as how legends and actual history can get corrupted and distorted over time. It great that a game like this can also teach about racism and hate for another race just because of preconceived notions without any real basis.
I will say that playing Valkyria Chronicles has been great. I loved watching my brother playing it before and helping him plan out where to position troops and all. But playing it myself and experiencing controlling the characters and actually participating in the battles is a whole different barrel of fun. I’m really glad Sega and Sony remastered the game and all…
…but would it be too much to ask for them to also port over Valkyria Chronicles 2 and 3 from the PSP to the PS4? Pretty please?
Anyway, while we’re on the subject of remasters, I’d like to give my thoughts on why there seems to be a lot of them lately. That’s next week! See you then!
Have you played Valkyria Chronicles before? What do you think of the game? Let me know in the comments section below!