Valkyria Chronicles Remastered
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: May 17th, 2016
Valkyria Chronicles never really felt like it warranted much in the remastering department since its original release in late 2008. Its distinctive hand-drawn art style made sure that it’s as pleasing to the eye in 2016 as it was a generation ago.
Indeed, the work here is relatively simple compared to other current-gen rereleases. Sega has upped the resolution to full 1080p and the framerate to a silky 60 frames per second, and included all of the game’s post-release downloadable content. There are no bonus features to speak of here, essentially making Valkyria Chronicles Remastered the same game that PS3 owners have loved for nearly a decade.
And that’s perfectly fine, since the timing for Sega couldn’t be much better. Valkyria Chronicles remained in cult status because the audience simply wasn’t there in 2008, as PlayStation 3 sales were still working their way up to parity with the Xbox 360’s. By the time more people bought PS3s, we’d all moved on to other things. Now things are different — the PlayStation 4 has a huge install base, and it’s one that includes many Xbox converts that simply never got a chance to play the PS3 exclusive for themselves. If the franchise is ever going to catch on, now’s the time.
I hope it does, because Valkyria Chronicles’ accolades are well-earned. The faux-World War II story of the tiny neutral nation of Gallia defending itself from an evil empire appeals even to those who don’t normally get into Japanese role-playing games, and the scrappy characters in Squad 7 endear themselves to you almost instantly. And despite being a mostly happy-go-lucky Teen-rated experience, the writing does a good job getting across the reality that the combatants mostly just want to go home and return to their lives. This is all-around good stuff.
The only problem I have with the way the story is presented is more literal than with most games — I just don’t care for the story book format Sega chose for the game. It’s a cute idea that gives Valkyria Chronicles an almost academic feel, with images on the page launching cutscenes or battle sequences. However, since many of the scenes aren’t “real” cutscenes but rather text-driven and requiring player input to advance, with no way to auto scroll through it, the pacing can feel uneven.
While the idea of a tactical RPG might be intimidating to those who don’t regularly play them, the third-person combat that anchors Valkyria Chronicles is straightforward. You position and deploy your units as you see fit, and then you take turns against the enemy to either wipe out their forces or take over their base camp. The aiming controls are a little more frustrating than I remembered — the game assigns the analog sticks a fairly large dead zone, and the aiming becomes pretty sensitive when you break out of it. Getting off precise shots proves to be more difficult than it needs to be.
Between battles, you can spend the money and experience points you’ve earned to upgrade your equipment and level up your infantry. Rather than leveling individual characters, you upgrade unit classes all at once — level your scouts, shocktroopers, lancers, snipers, and engineers as you see fit, and if one unit is lost you can put someone else in their place without skipping a beat. And as you level these classes, they also collectively learn new abilities.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is as beautiful as you remember it in 2008; if you loved it then, now’s your chance to tell all of your friends that missed it the first time to squad up and get some real groundswell. With a bit of luck, who knows? Maybe we can get the excellent Valkyria Chronicles II rereleased, this time on a home console. Hell, maybe we can just have Valkyria Chronicles III released on this side of the Pacific.