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Valkyria Chronicles (PC) artwork

Valkyria Chronicles (PC) review

"Despite its occasional campiness, Valkyria Chronicles is deserving of all of the praise it has received."

Valkyria Chronicles (PC) image

Valkyria Chronicles is a turn-based strategy game that is sort of an alternate-universe retelling of World War II. This isn't your typical war drama, though. No, this is War Lite™, where war has been sanitized for consumption by a PG-13 audience. Heavy topics such as racism and mass murder are present, but only lightly touched upon, serving as side points to the main story that focuses on the relationships of your team, Squad 7.

This is not an inherently bad thing, but I can understand why some people may not appreciate the watered-down vision of war that the game presents. Personally, I didn't mind this too much. Light and fluffy games can still be fun if they're done right, and this one is certainly no exception. If you can get over the game's anime-ness and occasional saccharine dialogue, you'll find that this game has an interesting story and likeable characters, even if they sometimes fall a little flat.

Valkyria Chronicles (PC) image

The gameplay is where Valkyria Chronicles really shines, though. It is a mash-up of turn-based strategy and 3rd-person action that works extremely well. You view the battlefield as an overhead tactical map first, and then you drop down into 3rd-person mode when you command a unit. Units have a limited range of movement and can only perform one action per turn, so you are encouraged to consider every action carefully. Staying in cover and using the terrain to your advantage is the key to keeping your units alive. If you don't, they will be ruthlessly killed by snipers or ambushed when the enemy's turn comes around. However, if you've placed your units right, you will find that they will automatically dish out intercepting fire against the enemies and kill them off as they approach. This can be extremely satisfying. You are rewarded for smart play, and that's exactly what you want in a strategy game.

The other great aspect of this game is the attention to detail that has been given to the squad members themselves. Every soldier in the roster has their own distinct personality, strengths, weaknesses, and unique voice-overs. There are dozens of them, which probably explains why this game weighs in at 20 GB on the hard drive. Some soldiers also synergize better with others, and finding the right combinations to deploy into battle is half the joy of Valkyria Chronicles.

Valkyria Chronicles (PC) image

The gameplay is not perfect, however. Tactics can be somewhat limited in the story quests, which too often rely on scripted sequences and highly linear level design. However, if you want to simply focus on the battles without that stuff getting in the way, there are repeatable "skirmish" battles available to do just that, and they still allow you to earn money and XP for your troops.

This game also relies a little too heavily on gimmicky boss battles. You know the ones. You're fighting a boss, but not really, because instead of actually fighting them you have to complete a bunch of tedious side objectives to "weaken" them or make them run away, such as destroying generators or covering them in rubble - things that have nothing to do with actually fighting them. This is somewhat necessary, because most of the bosses are key characters that need to fulfill their roles in the story later on, but this can be a bit tiresome nonetheless. Thankfully the skirmishes have none of this.

The enemy AI also feels a little lackluster at times. Enemies who are pre-placed in cover positions are your biggest challenges, but once they're flushed out they seem to lose their minds and run directly at your forces. The same goes for reinforcements that are spawned from enemy camps, who will follow predictable paths and are easily cut down by your soldiers. In short, this game relies too heavily on thwarting the player through level design rather than smart behavior from the enemies.

Valkyria Chronicles (PC) image

Another thing to note is that this game was originally designed to be played on PS3 and, like many ports, it has some problems. The most noticeable issues are with the wonky tank controls and the mouse movement on the tactical map, which is a bit buggy when your units are bunched together. Aside from those small issues, though, this game has been ported extremely well in most other respects.

With that said, Valkyria Chronicles is an extremely enjoyable game and provides excellent value for your money. You'll pay about $20 USD on Steam for about thirty hours of content, and that doesn't include the side plots and DLC's (all of which are now included in the full purchase price). With those included, you're looking nearly forty hours of content, or perhaps even more if you're an achievement hunter.

I highly recommend this game. It's a must-play for any strategy game fan!

Nightfire's avatar
Community review by Nightfire (March 13, 2016)

Nightfire is a reclusive dragon who lives in a cave with internet access.

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