I’ll be honest – I missed out on the Valkyria Chronicles hubbub when it was released a few years ago on PlayStation 3. I’m not sure if it was because I was busy with other games or I just didn’t give it enough of a passing interest, but I never got around to it. However, it blossomed thanks to an avid community that rallied around the game’s storyline and intriguing strategic gameplay, and that was more than enough to give it a necessary push for an HD treatment on PS4. After all, it’s not every day that Sega remasters a game like this.
So I knew this time I would have to indulge and see what I missed out on. And despite the fact that there’s a slight timeframe with getting into its story and some enemies are a bit cheap for their own good, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is quite a treat worth discovering.
Think XCOM, but with a World War II setting mixed in with some anime for good measure – that’s the approach that Valkyria takes. It revolves around Alicia and Welkin, two characters each with their own certain desires, but with war getting in the way. They become devoted soldiers in an effort to push back invading Imperials, so that they can make their city of Gallia one of peace again.
You’ll follow Squad 7 as they deal with a number of these enemies, protecting a resource called Ragnite and managing to keep pushing back Imperials. But story takes a great hold in Valkyria, as you’ll see conflicts that manage to generate within – no one ever said that war was pretty.
The emotions run high in this game, which definitely works in its favor. Sega didn’t hold back on Valkyria’s social commentary (hey, Nintendo, maybe take some lessons here) and it hits you like a sucker punch. That’s not to say it’s super-serious, though – there are plenty of lighthearted moments as well, so the game doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on you to the point that you’re ready to surrender. It’s a well-balanced human tale – and you may even make some friends in the process.
The only thing is you’ll need time – not to just invest in the story, but also the battles. These can actually take a good amount of time in some cases, like around 30-40 minutes when it comes to overtaking a base. Sometimes this can result in enemies taking cheap pot shots at you and ending the game too quickly, but not often enough that, again, you’ll find yourself giving up.
What comes from this is a strong learning of what classes can do for you here, from Lancers to Shock Troopers to Snipers, and finding that essential balance of how to apply them to win the fight. There’s also enough breathing room for you to see what an enemy might do next, so you can plan accordingly instead of putting yourself out there to be slaughtered. It’s definitely layered, and takes some getting used to, but it’s rewarding – ask any fan that got into the game before.
Kudos to Sega for also including previously released DLC content in the same package, so that players can get the full experience out of it without having to fork over a few extra dollars. It makes Valkyria that much more intriguing a purchase, particularly to those who were waiting to pick up the “full” package, as it were. Again, though, don’t expect anything quick here – this is quite the investment, but so worth it.
As for the presentation, it looks pretty damn good on the PS4, with a package that excels the original release with more colorful visuals, sharper character design and intense action. It resembles something that’s right at home for the platform. The sound is excellent too, with great music and atmospheric effects that help you feel the sheer impact of war.
While Valkyria Chronicles Remastered’s pacing, slight difficulty in battle and huge story may not be for all types of players, it’s still worth the investment. You’ll get a lot out of your time with Squad 7, even if your friendships don’t go quite the way you’ve expected. Hey, that’s war – not everything is going to go your way. But credit goes out to Sega for treating this material with dignity, respect, and most importantly, love. After all, it’s the fanbase that more than likely helped this treatment happen – and here’s hoping there’s additional ports on the way. Looking at you, Skies of Arcadia.