Game: Valkyria Chronicles Remastered
Consoles: PS4 (reviewed)
One of the more slept on releases from last-gen was a fresh take on traditional strategy RPG mechanics. Sega brought along a new IP that allowed players to not only plan out their tactics, but actively participate in moving around and eliminating their threats. That game was Valkyria Chronicles, a release that garnered plenty of praise but not enough commercial success during its initial launch. Now that we’ve entered the next-gen, past games that were criminally ignored are getting second chances in the form of HD re-releases. It’s a blessing that this is one of the many games that’s receiving such a well deserved treatment. Valkyria Chronicles Remastered gives players that passed on it the first time around a chance to finally realize its brilliance.
For those unaware, Valkyria Chronicles’ plot essentially breaks down into a conflict between two neighboring nations. An essential mineral is getting scarcer and scarcer, which forces one of those empires to begin an assault on the other to gain the majority of its last remains. After an attack on a small peaceful town takes place, the son of a celebrated war general must fight to fend off its attackers. Along the way, you’ll come to know a bunch of interesting characters who have their own motivations and reasons for fighting. The story starts out strong and gets increasingly heavy as topics such as racism, the costs of war, classism and more come into play. While the plot is strong, having to sit through so many cutscenes back to back is a bit tedious. There’s a lot to take in during each scene, but there’s just far too many lengthy instances of watching rather than playing.
When it’s time to embark on a mission, the game’s best qualities truly take center stage. With this HD remaster comes improved visual fidelity, which makes the cel-shaded visuals shine while the action unfolds. This strategy RPG doesn’t just ask you to move your soldiers around from place to place; it requires you to actively participate in their actions. You’ll line up well-placed shots, aim your grenades with a perfect arc, run up to your tank to repair it, head to high vantage points to pull off sniper shots etc. The battles are tough, but the sense of gratification you get from completing a mission with little to no causalities is extremely gratifying. What makes this re-release worth playing for the first time or revisiting it is the addition of additional skirmishes (the DLC episodes Edy’s Mission: “Enter the Edy Detachment,” Selvaria’s Mission: “Behind Her Blue Flame” and the Challenge Edy Detachment). And for those who want to truly challenge themselves, an Expert difficulty mode is available. With such a lengthy main campaign and extra missions to play, this re-release will give you so much bang for your buck.
While the main gameplay features are still top notch, it’s puzzling that the addition of mid-mission quick saves weren’t added. Failing a tough mission when the finish line is right in sight is truly defeating. It would have truly been helpful if new and old players had the option to save during some of the game’s longer missions. That mechanic would have been extremely helpful and cause less headaches for everyone involved.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is an admirable re-release. It’s new HD visual sheen gives the cel-shaded art style even more life than before. The plot is shockingly deep and focuses on several mature themes that more games need to adopt. The game relies too heavily on cutscenes though, which may push newcomers away. But the extremely entertaining battles are a treat for traditional strategy RPG and 3rd-person shooter fans. All of the original game’s past DLC missions are here, plus the existence of an Expert mode adds even more content to a game that’s already filled with it. The lack of a mid-mission quick save option is a puzzling omission, though. Still, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is worth experiencing for the very first time or revisiting just for old times sake.
- The remastered HD visuals makes this re-release look amazing
- The plot intensifies and gets even better over time
- The smart mix of 3rd-person shooting and strategic maneuvering is still entertaining
- The overabundance of cutscenes is a bit much
- There’s still no option to save in the middle of a battle