Gear up soldier, youíre about to join the front lines against the mighty, oppressive and invading force known as the Imperial Empire as you and your squad battle
your way through Valkyria Chronicles Remastered for the PlayStation 4, and hopefully make it out alive!
Whilst Valkyria Chronicles Remastered isnít an entirely new game - the hint is within the title after all - SEGA have done a great
job of porting this cult PlayStation 3 favourite over to a new generation of hardware.
Not only does Valkyria Chronicles Remastered contain the base game - with a shiny new coat of paint of course - but all of the previously
released downloadable content, and much to fans delight, trophy support; to finally add the Valkyria Chronicles Platinum trophy to your
on-going digital collectathon compulsive disorder.
Within Valkyria Chronicles Remastered you play as a young man named Welkin Gunther; son of a late war hero, Welkin has returned to his
small border town of Bruhl after a trip to examine the various plant life his country of Gallia has to offer - Welkin is clearly a lover not a fighter.
Unfortunately this isnít Welkinís lucky day, as the Empire - seeking control of Gallia and its vast ragnite resources - have decided to invade the country,
starting with his little home town. Thrust into the conflict Welkin has little choice but to take up arms with the aide of his sister Isara and - newly met -
hometown acquaintance Alicia. The trio join Galliaís militia, and you - as Welkin - will lead Squad 7 and its merry men (and women) with your tank - a family
heirloom named Edelweiss - in tow, to beat back the invading Imperial force and hopefully bring peace to your country once again.
What will first catch your eye is the beautiful art style Valkyria Chronicles Remastered employs, like a painters sketchbook, the bright,
cheery visuals are at odds with that dark conflict it ultimately manifests. But SEGA made an extremely smart choice in not pursuing a more realistic
approach - akin to a Call Of Duty - instead what they have crafted within the visuals of Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is a timeless effect, capturing just a
single frame of its beauty would sit proudly adorned within your home upon a wall.
This is further emphasised with the way in which you play through Valkyria Chronicles Remastered, each chapter of this well-spun tale is told
through a war journalists book - that also acts as your main menu - allowing to to flip through its pages and feeling like an extension of this world. Itís
clear that the developers are proud of the deep and rich lore they have crafted within Valkyria Chronicles Remastered - clearly taking
inspiration from our own real world historical conflicts - with its every pore oozing a believable world that will quickly have you enthralled.
As you leave Bruhl - which is merely a tutorial section to teach you the basics of its strategy gameplay - youíll join the militia and be given command of
Squad 7. This is where Valkyria Chronicles Remastered begins to open up, as not only is the game an in-depth strategy gem, but it also
fosters mechanics of the management variety. From levelling up your squad, outfitting them with new weapons and clothing or bolstering your tank to its
fullest potential; all by using the experience and money you acquire on the battlefield.
Thatís not to say youíll become lost within a field of menus, as thankfully SEGA have kept everything very streamlined, giving you perfect - at a
glance - recognition of what is beneficial to your troupe without the need for any specialized knowledge or tens of hours gametime.
Your first order of business though is a tough one, picking from a large pool of men and women youíll choose who you want within your squad. As you're reading
this, it may seem a trivial matter - itís just a list of names right? Youíll soon come to realise that Valkyria Chronicles Remastered treats
nothing as merely throwaway, as each and every soldier not only has their own backstory - which is elaborated upon and revealed as you progress within the
story - but they will also develop likes, dislikes and their own unique quirks. That is to say, each and every character within
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered has their own personality, this is not treated as mere fluff mind you, but has an impact upon the gameplay
itself providing them a boost or even a hindrance on the field of battle.
This is made all the worse when you lose a member; if a soldier falls on the battlefield - within a mission in
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered - they are unfortunately lost from your squad for good, then rubbing it in further by allowing you to visit
their graves at a memorial site. Losing a member of your squad with whom you have invested and triumphed is indeed a bitter pill to swallow, one that will quickly have you re-loading
your last save point to change that history.
The core strategic gameplay - that will suck up the majority of your time - within Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is what will have
enticed most gamers towards it. Interspersed within story segments, you will be tasked with a mission and given a quick briefing on the objectives, along with
the chance to allot your various squad members in the positions you see fit on the map. Your soldiers will fall under 1 of 5 classes, those being; Scout,
Lancer, Engineer, Sniper and Shocktrooper, each with their own specialties and movement range (known as AP or Action Points).
As you begin your turn as commander, you are given a set amount of CP (Command Points) to direct your troops as you see fit, with each of them costing
a single point to move and/or shoot. Vehicles such as your tank meanwhile will cost more CP than a ground unit, but regardless when deciding upon a unit to
interact with youíll be transported to the battlefield and gain direct control of your chosen unit via a third-person view. Itís here where those
aforementioned Action Points come into play, represented by an orange gauge at the bottom of the screen, that slowly drains as you move around the battlefield
- the size and speed of which being dependant on the class chosen. Once you're in position you can simply press R1 to enter Target Mode with your
selected weapon - that you can toggle through via Square - and aim the reticle at the enemy with the analog sticks.
Unfortunately the aiming in Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is where it partly shows its age, as hitting foes in their noggins can make quick
work of what might be an otherwise drawn out affair, itís a shame the controls arenít as precise as Iíd like, with no option to change the DualShock 4
analog stick speed to calibrate a more precise measurement.
But alas, once you have your shot lined up a quick press of X will execute the command and this is where pure chance comes into play. Whether you whiff and
hit the dirt or get a satisfying headshot largely depends on your soldier's potential skills, their level and class - with some being far more effective
against other troop class types than others. If the enemy survives though, they will have a chance to counterattack for a brief window before giving you an
opportunity to once again move and place yourself in cover to minimize damage. Once you have used up all your Command Points, or voluntarily ended your turn
(saving those left over CP for your next turn), the enemy phase will then begin.
Whilst all sounding simple enough - especially to fans of X-COM and its ilk - the difficulty of Valkyria Chronicles Remastered along with a
steady stream of new mechanics it introduces quickly ramps up, especially when you begin to face-off against enemy commander Selvaria and her mystical
abilities which can make quick work of your troops and strategies. Likewise mission objectives, whilst mainly focusing on capturing the enemy base, begin to
vary as the story unfolds leading to an excellent variety that will never leave you bored.
Whilst the actual turn-based strategy gameplay within Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is only half the package, gamers wanting just that, will
find vestige within the various Skirmishes you unlock - these battles you can play as many times as you wish, to try out new strategies or grind
experience for levelling up. But itís the story being told within Valkyria Chronicles Remastered that will hook both strategy fan and non
alike, as it delves into some deep topics that permeate our own world, including racism and the ultimate cost of war.
Itís a shame then that I feel SEGA missed a beat by not including any specific PlayStation 4 functionality, the touchpad combined with the in-game
book stylings or the various map locales you visit over your journey scream collaboration, but alas none can be found - but that is merely a small niggle in
what is an otherwise fantastic remaster of a game that is now nearly a decade old.
Valkyria Chronicles Remastered will draw you in with an interesting story then make you stay with a well crafted lore and some stellar
strategy gameplay that still feels fresh today - a testament to its quality - even if it can feel a little old in some places.
But it will ultimately be your connection to your fellow squad members, as you begin to understand - warts and all - each and every one of them, giving you
that push to see them through battle in Valkyria Chronicles Remastered and hopefully to a Gallian victory.
Review copy provided by the publisher for the PlayStation 4.