Valkyria Chronicles Remastered review – Returning to the battlefield
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is the type of game that shows that old games can find a new life on old consoles.
8 years ago, I wasn’t writing about video games. What I was doing, however, was spending a ton of time trying to pack in as much RPG goodness into my gaming free time. I’ll never forget a friend telling me that he found this really weird RPG where you control a small army and use tanks and stuff. I picked up Valkyria Chronicles that year and really got a kick out of the unique nature of the game.
For the uninitiated, Valkyria Chronicles takes place in a place called Europa, during a what is basically World War 2. As a member of the Gallian Militia, you are trying to defend your homeland against the East Europan Imperial Alliance, who want to control the nation for the abundance of Ragnite ore, which will give them an advantage against the Atlantic Federation. In many ways, most of the fighters in the game are fighting their own personal battles while struggling to stay alive while the world’s mega-powers tear themselves to shreds.
Combat is essentially broken into third-person shooter mechanics which favor a sort of rock, paper, scissors theme. Ground troops do well against anti-tank troops and artillery. Those troops do well against tanks, but tanks will cut through ground troops like a hot knife through butter. Now these 3 classes each have a few special characters, most of which are the main players of the story, there’s pretty much a 4th class that joins the party later, but if you don’t know the twist, I’d hate to outright spoil it.
8 years ago, Valkyria was a beautiful game, SEGA’s CANVAS graphics engine felt almost unreal, like a comic book that has come to life. On the PS4 release, it somehow looks even better, which actually says a lot. While the original game felt like that living comic, the remaster is much more like controlling a very artsy anime instead. The game is now in 1080p and features 60fps. Because of the simply hand-drawn feel of the game, it truly shines with that 60fps.
“When you get really good at using your troops effectively, it’s easy to ruin the opposition’s day.”
Returning to the world of Valkyria Chronicles was a little bit of a chore. Not because the gameplay is bland, but there are some HUGE plot twists and as you go further into the game, the story and genealogical themes of the game go pretty wild, when you see this coming a mile away, it takes some of the wonder and advancement of the game out. The combat still works wonderfully but until I was able to dig into the DLC, I felt like I was going through the motions.
I will say that I did play the game on a much harder difficulty this time around, which was pretty cool because unlike a game like Final Fantasy, Valkyria Chronicles really has most of its difficulty based on your knowledge of the terrain and taking advantage of it. Positioning is everything and if you don’t place your characters appropriately, a sniper or a tank will eliminate your squad in a heartbeat. Conversely, when you get really good at using your troops effectively, it’s easy to ruin the opposition’s day by drawing out enemies into ambushes or crossfire. I’ve seen people group their soft targets into a flanking position, only to get ripped to shreds when heavy armor rolls up on them.
I expected the game to feel its age. Fortunately, the game feels just as crisp and fresh as it did the first time I played it.
This is an 8-year-old game. Which that being said, there are a few hiccups here and there, but the HD extra coat of paint that Valkyria Chronicles got works wonderfully. The original soundtrack continues to fit the game well. It’s not a traditionally heavy soundtrack that you’d expect from something like this, instead the soundtrack has a very classical feel that only continues to add to the immersion of the game.
“On a second trip through the game, each time I encountered a plot point I remembered, I had to drag myself through the bloated story to get to the next chapter.”
I’ve put a lot of praise into Valkyria Chronicles, and it really does deserve it. While the game does do a ton of stuff well, the Remaster version does also feel a bit… hollow. Sure, you get all the DLC, which is a nice bonus, and now the game has achievements, which is nice because the game has some stuff worth showing off. Unfortunately, that’s about it and that really is tucked away within the game. There’s no mini games or special character bio pages or anything like that. Also, it’s chock full of cutscenes to a point where it almost becomes a chore to follow the story. On a second trip through the game, each time I encountered a plot point I remembered, I had to drag myself through the bloated story to get to the next chapter. It’s not a deal breaker and the game has an awesome price, but it still felt a little mailed in.
If you didn’t get to play Valkyria Chronicles when the game released back in the PS3 days, picking this up is a decent investment for $29.99. It’s not a game for everyone, however, and watching most of it online on Twitch or Youtube will ruin a lot of the overall experience. I really did like the game, though, and I am pretty sure that if you are looking for a great RPG experience on the cheap, this is the one for you.