Sega have been on a bit of a downward spiral in the last decade or so. Their premier mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog has been nothing short of abysmal except from Sonic Generation which was actually all right. Still, there was a time in this descend into mediocrity when Sega released a war-based Japanese Role Playing game and it was amazing. That has been remastered and time has been very kind to this off-the-wall and sometimes ridiculous but always enjoyable game.
Developed by Sega and out now for PlayStation 4, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered doesn’t change a whole lot to the game that released in 2008. This is down to laziness or poor optimisation. Instead, it’s a testament to the almost timeless nature of the game’s aesthetic. Visually, the game is still striking with water-coloured battlefields and distinctively detailed characters.
The game is set in a fictional European war based on World War II. You take control of two main heroes, Welkin and Alicia as you command a series of ever-increasingly complicated army battles. What starts out simple enough increasingly gets deeper and surprisingly even more satisfying as the time goes on. The story itself is also bonkers. There are moments of true sincerity of the devastation war incurs on the world only to be then followed up by the absolute weirdness you would expect from a Japanese Role Playing Game. It may not always be coherent, but it never fails to entertain one way or the other.
The core of the game though is the combat. Every battle, and round for that matter, begins with a top-down view of the battlefield. Each turn sees you have a certain number of Command Points (CP). When you select a character, it will then zoom down to them and you can then freely move them around the battlefield shoot at the enemy. Each time you do this though, the character you control has a limited Action Points (AP) gauge. Once the character’s AP gauge is empty, the view moves back to the top-down perspective and you make your next move until all Command Points are used up for your turn.
It may sound complicated but it’s pretty straight forward. The game also has some excellent twists on that core combat as the game goes on that becomes an absolute treat and challenge. It’s smart, with plenty of depth as the game goes on and doesn’t feel like any other game out there. . You even get the opportunity to drive a tank into battle and wipe out enemies. There is plenty of management within the game too. As you progress through the adventure, you can manage your base and build an army of soldiers to fight for you. The strategy lends itself well to the combat and gives a meaningful sense to everything.
Valkyria Chronicles is still a shining beacon in Sega’s history in the last decade. When thinking about this game and what Sega have done with it and what they could do led me to realise that this game had two sequels, both of which landed on PlayStation’s handheld the PSP. Giving a new console this title, I can’t help but wish that Sega are simply testing the waters for a true sequel that harnesses the full power of this generation of consoles.
One of the forgotten JRPG gems. 4/5.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered at CeX
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