Until recently, I had never been a big fan of the SRPG genre. The appeal of these kinds of games was something I never really understood, as I found many of them frustrating in that one tiny screw-up could mean hours wasted. As a result, I generally steered clear of these kinds of games. When I first learned about Valkyria Chronicles, it didn’t impress me. It just looked like another generic war game. However, since there was a free demo available, I decided to give the game a try and immediately got sucked into it.
The continent of Europa, in which the game takes place, closely resembles Europe in the time of World War II. The peaceful nation of Gallia, rich in a valuable material known as Ragnite, has recently become under attack by the East Europan Imperial Alliance. They want the precious metal, and will do anything it takes to acquire it. Valkyria Chronicles tells the tale of Squad 7 of Gallia and their struggles to push back the Empire’s forces. At first this seems like a generic story, but there are some nice twists & turns that give it a fresh feel. It’s a great story filled with plenty of action, surprises, and even some sadness.
Valkyria Chronicles does things a little bit differently than most SRPGs, and that’s probably what I like about it so much. It’s still turn-based, but there are real-time elements added in. Your characters have full freedom of movement, as opposed to being confined to a grid. You no longer have to worry about leveling up each individual character; instead, all characters of the same class level up at the same time, giving you much less to worry about. There is still tons of strategy involved in this game though – unit placement, movement, weapons, and abilities all play an important role in deciding which side comes out victorious.
In the heat of battle, each turn both sides are given a certain number of command points, or CP. CP determines how many units you can move during your turn. Infantry units only use up 1 CP, while tanks take up 2. Naturally, the tanks also are much more powerful and very helpful when aiding you in battle. After you select a unit, you’re free to move them within a certain range. Be careful, though – if one of your units comes into an enemy unit’s view, the enemy will fire – even if it’s your turn! As a result, espionage is also an important and necessary measure you need to take in order to survive.
Outside of battle, you’re given the opportunity to go into town and prepare your troops for the next battle. You can purchase upgrades for your tanks, train your troops so they get stronger, and make changes to your roster. You can also take this opportunity to learn some new Orders, which are special abilities you can use during battles that offer an array of beneficial effects, making your life much easier.
By combining an excellent music soundtrack with its stunning pencil-shaded style graphics, Valkyria Chronicles promises to deliver a nice treat to your eyes and ears. With 19 lengthy missions in addition to several extra missions and downloadable content, you’re bound to get your money’s worth. Although it abandons the tried-and-true SRPG standards set by classics like Final Fantasy Tactics, Valkyria Chronicles still is a very well-designed and balanced game that’s not too difficult, yet not too easy at the same time. This game is an under-appreciated gem that RPG fans of any kind should not miss out on.
Valkyria Chronicles is available for the Sony PlayStation 3.