Valkyria Chronicles

    Game » consists of 13 releases. Released Apr 22, 2008

    A turn-based tactics game with real-time elements, that tells the story of Squad 7 as they rally together to fight for the freedom of their country, Gallia.

    patchinko's Valkyria Chronicles (PlayStation 3) review

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    Best SRPG in Years!

    It is a rare thing to find a strategy role-playing game (SRPG) done right in this age of first-person shooters, third-person shooters, and soon massively multiplayer online shooters. But here we have a game that combines two elements many players cherish--turn-based military strategy and story-driven role playing--into one gorgeous work of art. I could not be more thankful for it.

    I started playing Valkyria Chronicles early this year after having a break around New Year's with some spare time to play it. Each battle can take anywhere from a half hour to an hour, depending on how much of a perfectionist you are, and squeezed in between them are numerous cutscenes that develop the story and characters.

    Visuals & Sound

    The first thing most people will mention when they think of Valkyria Chronicles is the visuals. They blend cel-shading, pencil-and-watercolor anime and three dimensional graphics to create a truly beautiful experience.

    In spite of being cel-shaded, pencil-and-watercolor anime, it feels completely three dimensional.
    In spite of being cel-shaded, pencil-and-watercolor anime, it feels completely three dimensional.
    Personally, I'm not a huge anime fan in general, so the anime graphics weren't a huge turn-on for me when I first bought the game. However, I have to say that they really grew on me as I progressed through it. The world that is created through the visual approach taken in this game shouts "EWII" (fictional Europa's version of our very own WWII) perfectly. Meanwhile, it doesn't leave it's anime/manga/cartoon roots, either. When a gun fires, a "budda-budda-budda" word bubble pops up, and tank engines chug along with a noticeable "RRRRRRRRR". These touches add a lot of valuable personality to the game.

    The full-motion cutscenes are truly inspired.
    The full-motion cutscenes are truly inspired.
    The cutscenes are a mix of rather bland portrait-dialogue that, while the lips sync up nicely and the dialogue itself is interesting, leaves a bit to be desired and truly inspired full-motion action sequences that really take the visual quality of the game to the next level. I found the cinematic after the last boss to be absolutely lovely, and there is one scene in the game that conveys the emotions of the characters involved at a level I admit I haven't seen in a videogame to this point.

    Finally, the music in the game is nice, mostly orchestral fare by Hitoshi Sakimoto, who many of us RPG fans have come to know and love over the years. Some of it is wonderful, some of it is just nice. A decent soundtrack that generally fits the game well. I will say because of the nature of the anime work in the game, I almost wished for a Joe Hisaishi soundtrack.


    The basics of the gameplay will be familiar to anyone who's played strategy RPGs in the past. The game is broken up into a series of missions, each with its own specific objectives, which get progressively more challenging as you reach the later stages.

    As squad leader, Welkin Gunther, you decide who joins you in Squad 7 from a long list of characters that include five major subtypes: Scout, Trooper, Lancer, Engineer, and Sniper. Plus, Welkin himself drives a tank (which he inherited from his father) that joins you on each mission.

    As with most SRPGs, there is a use for every tool. While a Scout can run farther than anyone else, she can't take a lot of bullets or output a lot of damage. A Trooper can absorb bullets better and do a lot more damage, but needs to be up close. Lancers are great against tanks, but not against enemy soldiers. And so on. The five classes plus tanks bring just enough unique utility and variety to make the game enjoyable without bogging you down with too many different things to choose from.

    I found the approach of leaving the player in the dark about the "best" units to start a mission with was an effective way to bring challenge to the game. I was usually rewarded by putting together a good mixed squadron with each of the five classes well represented, but I admit there were times that I would have had more luck with a different makeup. Regardless, with perseverence, a mixed squad can handle any of the missions challenges put forth in the course of the regular game.

    The RPG aspect of the game comes into play when the player enters the Headquarters to level up both his squad's weaponry and their ranks through the use of money and experience points. I liked this approach, as well as the ability to choose varied paths to go down with the weapons, and the customizability of the tanks. Moreover, each character has his or her own personality, and as I got to know them, I found my favorites and adjusted my squad makeup until I had a list of characters I liked. It wasn't too much or too little.

    (I will say, little is more frustrating than your Lancer, Scout or Sniper missing his or her target when it was a really high likelihood target, so I usually went for the accuracy upgrades when I could!)

    Another nice features of the game is the Skirmish mode, where you can play a premade map at varying levels of difficulty. And after beating the game the first time, the game opens up chapter by chapter and each mission can be played as much as you want, bringing a level of replayability to the game that I appreciate.

    Story & Characters

    Rosie, Isara, Largo and Alicia, some of the main characters and key members of Squad 7
    Rosie, Isara, Largo and Alicia, some of the main characters and key members of Squad 7

    It almost feels unfair to try to compare Valkyria Chronicle's story with the story of other RPGs that I typically play. No, it's not of the scale or breadth of something like a Final Fantasy game. Instead, I almost feel like it would be more fair to compare the story to a good anime film.

    The story is loosely based on WWII, but instead of Europe, this war takes place in a very Europe-esque land called Europa, particularly in a country called Gallia that sits at the crux between two superpowers called the Empire and the Federation (insert Star Wars vs. Star Trek joke here).

    We follow the tale of Welkin Gunther, son of a great general from EW1 who reluctantly leaves his life as a Naturalist to fight for his country as the commander of Militia Squad 7. The main cast of characters in Squad 7 include Welkin's adopted sister Isara, a local baker with a chip on her shoulder named Alicia, toughgirl Rosie, toughguy Largo. Character development starts slowly. We learn a little bit about the characters as the first few missions commence, but mostly we just seem to feel Welkin is out of place leading a squad when his head is constantly thinking about birds and butterflies.

    Eventually, however, the characters progress as we learn the history of Europa, from who the Darcsens and Valkyria are to the pasts of each of the characters themselves. Additionally, we meet the generals from the Empire, including the mysterious woman Selvaria Bles, and Maximillian, their leader. The depth of the characters grows a great deal through the later chapters of the story amounting to what I will say is an impressive and creative tale.

    Again, I think the story itself could as easily be made into a great anime movie as it was made into a videogame. I know there is a manga version floating around for those who like manga. Regardless, it has a strong story and, if one is patient enough to wait for the characters' backgrounds and motivations to be fleshed out, strong characters as well.

    My one gripe about the story is the ending. I wouldn't say it was a bad ending itself, but the final two battles were mostly designed around progressing the story, and I felt they were lacking. However, the ending cinematic was breath-taking, so I felt it made up for the rather lackluster final battle. I wouldn't let this criticism dissuade you from playing the game, but I put it out there just to say that the story and game aren't perfect, but they are very good.

    On a final note about the characters, there is a very large supporting cast of characters in the game, including the non-essential members of Squad 7. For example, in your roster of characters you may notice a Trooper named Vyse and a Scout named Aika. If you ever played Sega's Skies of Arcadia, you may remember Vyse and his girlfriend Aika. These two characters look very much like those ones! Moreover, when Aika falls in battle, you can hear her shout Vyse's name. All of the characters have these kinds of relationships set up for them, from the Darcsen haters who get debuffs to their stats when in the vacinity of a Darcsen squad-mate, to the probably homosexual engineer who gets a buff when she's with girls and a debuff when she's with boys, to the Sniper with no friends who gets a buff when she's on her own. These little touches of character add a lot of fun to the game. As you get to know your characters' personalities, you'll tend to group them with the types of characters they like and so forth. A novel and fun mechanic that actually works for once in a game like this.

    Bottom Line

    I really enjoyed Valkyria Chronicles and whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys turn-based SRPGs. I'm giving it five stars because I feel that it filled all of my expectations and then some, and because a good SRPG is really hard to find these days. It was a fun game that I'll play again in an attempt to achieve A-ranks on each stage, and that I intend to try out the DLC on. I encourage anyone who hasn't tried it yet to give Valkyria Chronicles a shot--I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    Other reviews for Valkyria Chronicles (PlayStation 3)

      Valkyria Chronicles: The Strategy RPG for You and Me 0

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      15 out of 16 found this review helpful.

      A Next-Gen RPG that truly delivers. 0

      Valkyria Chronicles is an interesting fusion of genres that a great time for RPG fans; when quality RPGs are few and far between on any of the current consoles. Chronicles tells a deep engaging story set amidst a WWII-type clash of superpowers as well as challenging you with a varied and deep combat system. Set in a fictional version of  Europe, cunningly named Europa, embroiled in the Second Europan War, Valkyria Chronicles follows the events of the Empire’s invasion of a small, neutral country...

      3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

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