A tale as beau­ti­ful as it is bit­ter­sweet

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENT - @mitch­jay­line­ham

For ten years you’ve waited to take up arms against the dev­as­tat­ing East­ern Im­pe­rial Al­liance, and now comes Squad E’s chance to fight for what they be­lieve is right. Blood will be spilled, tears will be shed, and the emo­tional dev­as­ta­tion of los­ing an ally doesn’t get any eas­ier. Gear up and take to the bat­tle­field, but keep a box of tis­sues nearby.

Tak­ing place in the same time­frame as the orig­i­nal Valkyria Chron­i­cles, this fourth in­stal­ment sees Sega at­tempt to cap­ture a West­ern au­di­ence with its ma­ture nar­ra­tive and adult char­ac­ters. Lit­tle has changed from the series’ first for­ays into war, so those dis­ap­pointed in Valkyria Chron­i­cles II’s stu­dent-cen­tric cast can rest easy, as the cast here is, re­fresh­ingly, from all walks of life.

You can change the dif­fi­culty when­ever you’re out of bat­tle, which is handy con­sid­er­ing how tough the game can get. You’ll be laid to waste in no time if you rush blindly in, and you’re en­cour­aged to fight strate­gi­cally. Com­bat is turn-based, and the core me­chan­ics are sim­ple – you can move as many char­ac­ters as your CP (Com­mand Points) al­lows. Bat­tles can last the bet­ter part of an hour, but this is where the magic of Valkyria Chron­i­cles lies. You have party mem­bers hid­ing out in bushes, crouch­ing be­sides sand bags, and rolling for­ward in tanks, all in the hopes that you’ll be able to grasp vic­tory from an over­whelm­ing army which seem­ingly has no end of re­in­force­ments. It’s sat­is­fy­ing see­ing the re­sults screen af­ter a gru­elling bat­tle, gen­er­ally be­ing awarded a medal.


You usu­ally have ten mem­bers per bat­tle, with the op­tion to switch them around at al­ly­oc­cu­pied camps. Each char­ac­ter has their own per­son­al­ity which af­fects how they per­form. A de­ter­mined char­ac­ter like Kai may get a short burst where their ac­cu­racy rises, but the bald Aladdin will per­form worse thanks to his “Shiny Head”, which makes him self­con­scious. Each char­ac­ter is dif­fer­ent, and it’s well worth tak­ing the time to know your squad. That’s what a good cap­tain does, af­ter all!

De­spite the se­ri­ous tone of the nar­ra­tive, there are a lot of time-out mo­ments and jokes, and op­tional scenes to learn more about the char­ac­ters and how they in­ter­act with each other. Al­lies who are friendly with each other are more likely to per­form joint at­tacks in bat­tle, and these scenes serve to pro­vide a richer ex­pe­ri­ence. The hu­mour will be fa­mil­iar to Ja­panese game fans, but it’s a lit­tle less loud, where Sega has kept, us, its ea­ger West­ern au­di­ence in mind.

The wa­ter­colour-like art is ut­terly gor­geous, con­vey­ing ev­ery emo­tion, and it al­most jus­ti­fies buy­ing the game on its own. Thank­fully, game­play is tight and en­gag­ing, leav­ing no doubt that this is a must-play tac­ti­cal JPG series fans and new­com­ers alike.


The breath­tak­ing wa­ter­colour-like art doesn’t be­tray the hor­rors of war.



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