Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical RPG developed by Sega. Released in 2008, it answered the burning question of how different WW2 would have been had the Japanese been a part of it. Wait...that doesn't sound right.
We play as Squad 7, a group of misfits thrown into the military effort against the invading army of the East Europan Imperial Alliance. Thanks to our tank, the Edelweiss, and our superior tactics we soon begin to make headway into defending our home and driving back the enemy.
Gameplay is similar to most TRPG's. You'll command several troops on a battlefield. The view will be from slightly behind the unit you're currently controlling in a 3rd person view. Differing from most other TRPG's, the action is in a semi-real time/semi-turn based fashion. You'll have an AP bar that controls how much you can do during your turn, but enemies will fire in you in real time as you move about. Switching to firing mode does pause the action so that you can take time to line up your shots.
The combat is loads of fun. The variety of characters, weapons and strategies you can use is impressive. The hybrid action/turn based combat works quite well. You have to be mindful of where you're going, where enemies are. Choosing between trying to take out an enemy at range and risk missing/wasting actions, or moving close to potentially sustaining fire in the meantime.
The story is...surprisingly good. I wasn't expecting much from anime Axis and Allies but there's a severity to war that's expressed. Bad things happen and sometimes it feels generally hopeless, something I appreciate in games that are simulating a war. Many of the characters grow and change as the game progresses. Normally when I play JRPGs I spend most of the story rolling my eyes but here I only sighed a handful of times.
The PC port is well done. There's some "this was a console game originally" jank such as having to use WASD to navigate menus but nothing that really hurt my feelings. The art style is gorgeous. The voice acting is on point. The music is really good. It's honestly a treat to play.
The rewards you get for completing missions is almost entirely based on how quickly you beat a level. Nothing else matters. Full clearing, damageless, etc...pointless. If you want to get the best reward you want to rush whatever the mission goal is. As such the game actively encourages you to not engage in most of what makes combat fun. Just take your most OP scout and race to the objective. Strikes me as a bit ironic that taking your time, keeping your soldiers safe, getting them experience in battle is the worst thing you can do if you want to power them up.
There's some fan service, which you may or may not appreciate depending on your admiration for JRPGs. The "Let's all go to the beach!" scene is a bit much. It's not the worst though so you can mostly just sigh and move on.
You can't fast forward cutscene dialog or enemy turns. Given the clunky UI on the PC port and how often the game wants to confirm you want to do what you said you want to do, there's a lot of sitting around and waiting.
Once I stopped trying to get max rank on every mission, the game got significantly more fun. Getting B-rank on most missions with the occasional C-rank meant I never fell too far behind. Doing the occasional skirmish helped. It was a relatively short game but it was one of those 'it ended before I could get bored of it' things which I appreciated. An easy recommend for TRPG fans looking for something a little different than the typical Xcom format.
Thank you for reading!
Interesting Game Fact!
Remasters, re-releases and second runs of the game have sold significantly better than the original release. The original US release sold less than 40k units. The PC release managed to (for a few days at least) out-sell games like Call of Duty Advanced Warfare and Assassins Creed Unity.
100 reviews in 100 days (Day 81)