The original Valkyria Chronicles was released back on the PS3 back in 2008. However, due to bad sales, SEGA decided to cut losses. Since then, SEGA released Valkyria Chronicles 2 and 3 on the PlayStation Portable, with the third entry that was never released to the West. While the PSP entries were well and fun, fans of the series clamored and desired for an entry back on the home console. It was then SEGA remastered the first game for PS4 with trophy support and updated performance on May 2017. We did receive a spinoff title of Valkyria Revolution on June 2017, but it was not the traditional gameplay that fans love of the series. In fact, it wasn’t received well at all.
Not long after that, SEGA announced Valkyria Chronicles 4 would be coming back to home consoles in September 2018. Fans rejoiced at the news and now wait in anticipation for it. It was shown as a game that would be going back to its roots while improving the framework that the series has established. I’ve played the original and the second entry of the series, so this is good news overall. After the long wait, is Valkyria Chronicles 4 the games that does the series justice? Is it the game that will revitalize the series for newcomers and fans?
Welcome Back Soldier
For the uninitiated, Valkyria Chronicles is a Tactical Turn-Based RPG mix with a 3-rd Peron shooter that utilities the “BLiTZ” battle system. Players will choose a character from a top-down perspective on a map with a certain amount of turns. This is labeled as Command points or CP. After picking a character and using CP, it then shifts to a 3rd-person perspective and you act on the turn. You move and either shoot, heal, repair, or other actions in that turn within you allotted action points or AP. Once you use up your AP, you end your turn, goes back to the map overview and the cycle repeats until the objective is complete.
Once completed, you will be graded a letter score from E to A. This depends on how many turns you take to complete the stage. This is always interesting. Even puzzle-like to say the least. Figuring out how to complete a stage quickly while also targeting enemy aces and tanks to add to your experience and Dacat (Europa’s currency) bonus.
The control scheme remains the same as the first game. R1 puts you in target mode, whether you want to shoot an enemy or to heal your allies. You got your grenades, ragnaid, engineer tools, all major weapons and tools are back. Taking cover behind sandbags, hiding in the grass, if you have played any in the series, you will feel right at home.
Before that, I like to mention that the APC returns here. As usual, your APC can transport units while conserving the units AP to get them farther on the map. However, it’s not just the APC that can do that. There is a new feature that was only added to the third game: The Direct Command. Main characters can direct command two more units to follow suit and travel with you till the end of the turn. Till then, they can also join you in joint attacks in case you need the firepower. No longer do you have to be near an ally to do this. This, however, uses a Special point or SP, which you unlock in a later chapter.
Note that there is friendly fire! I had a moment when I used Raz and direct command Kai and a scout to join me. When I took the shot at an enemy, Kai was behind me and shot me in the back. Take note that a friendly gun shouldn’t be aimed at your comrades, but instead the enemy. Another new feature is that the sniper class can now do interception fire. I repeat! Interception fire! So instead of being dead weight like lancer class, they can retaliate and conduct overwatch.
There is also a new class that has been added to the game; the Grenadier class or mortar squad. As the name implies, this class support you with mortar strikes and is able to take out groups of enemies when called upon. No longer will the mortar function will be exclusive to the tank. On an enemy’s turn, if the enemy is in the general range of a grenadier, they will pelt them with an artillery strike. Course these are mortars, so there is a chance they can dodge the strikes and still make through. If one does hit, it also adds a slow effect to them, making them even more vulnerable. Of course, if you can do it then the enemy can do it as well, and they do, often. A nice detail is that if a mortar hits you, you will hear the ringing in your ear effect. As would you experience if an explosion occurs near you.
Overall, SEGA basically went with the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. This is much appreciated. With the newly added features to this entry, it feels like a new product of its own.
War Never Changes
This takes places during the events of the first game. Europa is split over the precious resource of Ragnite. You have the fascist Imperial Forces of the East, and loosely united democracies in the West called the Atlantic Federation. We did encounter the federation as an enemy in the first game on one mission. This time around you are part of the federation. You play as Claude Wallace, commander of Squad E of the Ranger corp. Alongside is your Darcsen sergeant and childhood friend Raz, a hot-headed based, but loyal shock trooper. Course you got to have your trusty sniper and yet another childhood friend, Kai Schulen. Then you have your main grenadier, Riley Miller. She is also, you guessed it, childhood friend as well. Noticed the pattern here?
These four childhood friends share the same birth land of Hafen, which was shown in the first game. You will witness these characters as they go through the trials and tribulations in the game. Naturally, each character has their own backstories and motivations for fight9 against the empire. Nothing original or groundbreaking, but its always fun to see how these characters progress and development during the progression of the game.
While it mostly focuses on these 4 main characters, Valkyria Chronicles 4 puts a greater spotlight on your entire cast. In the first game, your other team members do have their stories, but you had to go read about them. The only development shown is with the DLC “The Edy Detachment” which only gives insight to 5 squad members. Here, everyone gets a turn to shine.
Once you play your other characters enough, you will unlock a squad story involving three members of your squad. You will see a gambling addict who learns the value of restraint and conservation, a Darcsen scavenger who learns to not always be realist about survival, a brother and sister who is trying to support each other while their best friend is learning that the world is not always good vs. evil, squad stories like this you will see. Some that are even self-aware.
A personal favorite is one of a chuunibyou case of Thomas Kevin, but calls himself Odin, God of Battle. Yes, they are hammering the Norse influence here. The reason he is the army is that his parents signed him up. He acts like an almighty god, but in truth, he is a coward. His squad story is one of the funniest ones and the end is just simply enjoyable.
There is also a reason to do these squad stories. Once you complete them, the three concerning members will have a negative potential change into a positive potential. All members have their own potential and boosts on the battlefield, positive and negative. This ranges from extra strength against enemy personnel or tanks, buffs of defense or evasion, damage taken by half from interception fire, to more advanced perks like acting again in the same turn, or refill you AP gauge fully when depleted. Obviously, you what to go out of your way to complete these stories as it will only help you in battle.
Let it be clear, the story itself is very anime. If you have seen your fair share of anime, then you know what you are getting yourselves into. The main story and squad stories sometimes follow the usual tropes and stereotypes that you expect from anime or media. There are even times when crude and sexual humor are used in comedic effect. Some effective than others. This comes mostly from Raz and his base nature. Personally, I’m all for it, but warning if that kind of humor is not for you.
Voice acting is superb and the voice actors pretty much nail their roles well. Though if English dubbing is not your preference, you can change it to the original Japanese should you choose in the options. The localization did a wonderful job with the script. There are some pop culture references and some lines that I just laugh out loud.
I must also applaud the sound design. Composer Hitoshi Sakimoto, who has done the music for the series, returns and his work shines. In moments of dread and panic, it would be accompanied with loud horns and percussion instruments. In heartfelt and profound moments, piano and wind instruments would emphasize the peace and calm of the event. The music and sounds really put you in the moment and is a highlight for this game.
If there are any negatives, its all just personal nitpicks. I wish that a certain trio of sky pirates makes a cameo here. However they are fighting in the principality of Gallia of the first game, so they cannot exist in this location. There is a cameo of a certain enemy that makes an appearance, but I will let you figure it out. You can find him in a squad story.
Another negative is regards to the DLC. They have the obligatory beach episode… as DLC. The first game had a beach episode included. You watch an anime and you expect it to have the beach/hot spring episode in the lineup. From what I played so far, it is not here. Not sure why, but to cut off some fan service and sell it just leaves a bad taste for me. While there will be a DLC that will include a crossover with the original game, and Squad E will meet Welkin Gunther and Squad 7 for a mission, I feel that there should be more involved with principality of Gallia. Also, there’s no John Dimaggio’s Jann Walker.
There is a hot spring scene that you can unlock post game. There is fan service already built in aside from the announced beach episode DLC.
Beauty of Europa
All of this is present with the power of the CANVAS Graphics engine. I cannot express how much I love the aesthetics of this game. While photorealism and the pursuit of 4k resolution are admirable, there is something to be said when any moment in this game can be saved as a screenshot and be view as a painting.
The watercolors and sketch lines really make the Valkyria series a literal art in motion. Even when a character dies, it shows the character literally losing their color before fading to white. This can be compared to the cell-shaded styles of other games, but there is something about the CANVAS engine that sets it apart. The creators wanted to make the game a literal art piece and they succeed with flying colors (pun intended). Check out these shots I took and see for yourself unless the ones before weren’t enough.
It Will Be Done
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is by far the best game of the series to date. The addition of a new Grenadier class, a plethora of quality of life improvements and a simple coming-of-age story makes this game you cannot miss. For fans, you will feel right at home with this entry. For newcomers, you must experience this as there is just nothing like it. While the tale may not be deep or anything out of the ordinary, there is an appeal that the simple stories are all you need. The spotlight on the entire cast, the level, and upgrade system, the excellent music and presentation, this is one war tour you want to enlist in.
Welcome Back Soldier
Welcome Back To Europa
Valkyria Chronicles 4 makes it’s triumphant return to home consoles and PC with outstanding results. The addition of new features, a new class and story adds to the tale of the Europan War. Offering a perspective as the Atlantic Federation, you will experience another side to this story. While this coming-of-age story isn’t radically different, it still tried and true story that you will appreciate. Stay for its rainbow cast of characters and situations that Squad E gets into. Maybe you will laugh. Maybe you will cry. One thing for certain, it is good to have you back Valkyria Chronicles. Here is hoping to SEGA that we get another entry in the future.
- Focus of All Cast Members
- Excellent Sound Track and Design
- Added Features and New Class
- Aesthetically Pleasing
- Ragnarok, the Shiba Inu Medic Dog
- Story Follows Some Stereotypes and Tropes
- RNG Can Be Cruel
- Beach Episode As DLC
- No Cameo Appearance of Three Sky Pirates
- No Jann Walker
- Welcome Back to Europa