Developer – Sega
Publisher – Sega
Release Date – October 31 2008
Valkyria Chronicles was one of the few Japanese RPG’s in the past 5 years that actually felt new and innovative pushing forward the genre. It’s mix of turn based and real time combat with an underlying RPG component defied past conventions. Add to this an unique watercolour style art style and an involving story playing out between missions, we get a complete package for any JRPG enthusiast.
The key to the game is the fun tactical combat which feels fresh and makes you actually look forward to the combat. A problem with many RPG’s is that the combat is tedious and repetitive, this isn’t the case here with the various options you have to complete a mission. The combat starts of like a typical tactical RPG where you place down your chosen units for a mission on a 2D map and you are given a certain amount of action points that you can use to move units. But the twist is that once you choose to move a unit it switches to a 3D view and you can actively control it. You have a metre that indicates how much you can move and you get one combat or item use per turn but you are free to move anywhere or take cover.
The weapons in the games are all early 1900’s based weapons like rifles, snipers, and machine guns and the way they work is that you chose a point to aim and accuracy is determined by distance. The only thing I would add is the ability to move your weapon as you shoot like a third person shooter. The game quite often varies up the tactics so you have to make full use of your squad of scouts, shock troopers, snipers, lancers, medics and tanks. They also add new environmental elements that mix up the situation as you progress.
The first thing that quickly becomes apparent when playing this game is the amount of story, the ratio of story to gameplay is quite high but not overly different to other RPGs. I guess I’m starting to get sick of watching dialogue scenes as I get older and will often just read the text instead of waiting for the voice acting to finish (same problem in Mass Effect and Dragon Age). But I do like the animation scenes which are high quality Anime scenes and do a good job of visualising the world in greater detail. The story also doesn’t refrain from pulling any punches and deals with some more mature themes appropriate to a war setting.
The game is around 30-40 hours depending on whether you want to play the side or skirmish missions. I’m sorry to see the series go to the PSP with two sequels already out but I’m looking forward to what Sega do next in terms of action RPG’s as they have had a good track record with this and the Yakuza series.