After going over a decade without owning a console, I purchased a PS4 last year. I am currently very slowly working my way through some of the gems from the past two generations that I missed out on. I thought posting some of my impressions here would be a good way to reflect on them and to hear what others thought of them.
The first classic game that I bought when I got my new console was Valkyria Chronicles. I’ve always loved tactical RPGs and for awhile VC was the only thing that made me wish I owned a PS3. I am very nearly at the end of the game, so I thought I’d just post some quick bullet point thoughts. It will have spoilers, but, come on, the game is a decade old.
Simple but satisfying strategy: I wouldn’t say that VC has the depth of most strategy games, but there is something very satisfying about working through the missions. Finding paths to flank enemies, advancing your soldiers in teams, and taking risks on moving a soldier deep into the map. The game also has a clever way of encouraging the player to continue a battle even when things go sideways. Instead of compulsively resetting a mission, the ability to pull out injured soldiers and call up reinforcements let me make mistakes, leading to messy but interesting battles.
Historical analogies are good: I was surprised by the amount of thought that was put into the game’s depiction of racial prejudice and power hierarchies. The scapegoating of the Darcsens and the Valkryians’ distortion of history actually present some genuine insight into the ways prejudices form as a result of existing power structures. Having the prejudices bleed into your character roster was another nice touch.
A fairly mature romantic relationship: The two main characters are a young man and woman who fall in love. Go figure. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the game avoid all the common cliches of anime romances. There were no secret crushes, misunderstandings, or hornball nose-bleeding. Instead, the leads are pretty honest about their feelings towards one another, and their gradually growing affection and intimacy felt authentic and believable.
Diverse roster of minor characters: While the minor characters aren’t terribly fleshed out (see below), it was nice to see a variety of ages, body types, and sexual orientations… sort of. I mean, it might fall under queer baiting, since the characters sexuality is never explicitly mentioned. But, it’s pretty clear in some cases. Or, maybe it would be more accurate to say that they create a space for you to infer and identify with the characters as such.
Marina Wulfstan: She never misses. And she’s a bad ass lone wolf. And her name has Wulf in it. It’s pretty great.
Actually, historical analogies are bad: While the game’s commentary on race has some legitimate insights, broad metaphors for the Holocaust are probably never a good idea. I mean, its heart is in the right place, but its also pretty painfully reductive to use watered-down genocide to serve as a plot device.
Thin character development: While I enjoyed the varied cast of minor characters, the lack of customization and character development was a bit disappointing. I was hoping to develop a strong sense for the large cast of characters. I was looking forward to seeing them interact and form relationships. But outside your main cast of 6 heroes, all you really get are some snippets of flavour text.
Rounded villains: The attempts to make the villains fleshed-out, relatable characters were pretty ham fisted. Right before the final battle, the evil prince pretty much runs up to your heroes and yells at them about his shitty childhood so that we see even villains are complex and sympathetic. It’s awkward and bad.
Largo is a Veggie-Maniac: Yeah, that’s not a thing.
Really enjoyed it. Sorry it’s ending. Great light strategy gameplay that makes you feel smart and pulls you into its world. I really felt like each chapter could have been an episode of an anime, which I also dug.
I would love to hear the memories of anyone who played this when it first came out.
I love love love Valkyria Chronicles. It’s certainly not perfect, but what it does is so unique, so fascinating, that any flaws pale to its strengths. I’m curious though, did you have issues with the game’s difficulty spikes? It took me a while to get through some missions and more than a few times I just grinded up on easier missions, so I’m curious if that was the case with you.
May not be a thing but I thought it was cute in the game!
But yeah, Valkyria Chronicles was the first game I bought when I got a PS4 last year and I too enjoyed it. Having said that, I found playing a turn-based tactics game on a PS4 kind of unsatisfying. Something about the passive sort of play style and sitting in front of me TV… I think my childhood really conditioned me to equate SRPGs and the like with Gameboy Advance and so I felt oddly restless at times while playing VC. That may be way too in my head. Nevertheless, I am really looking forward to the upcoming VC release and the fact that it will be on the Switch; seems like a match made in heaven to me.
I totally agree about the flaws being really minor. I definitely found some missions to be significantly harder than others (the second part of The Clash at Naggiar springs to mind). There were a few where I got off to a real bad start or just positioned my troops poorly and had to start over. But I didn’t find myself getting too frustrated. Once I figured out that I could bring troops back in as reinforcements after I had called in a medic, I found the challenging missions to be pretty satisfying to push through.
The one thing that I did find frustrating were missions where an enemy scout would sneak through my line and make a sprint to my base. It just seemed like an anticlimactic way to lose.
It really is a unique game though. I am sorry to be finishing it.
I played the second game in Japanese first and thought it was great. Lots of systems and gameplay improvements and such. Couldn’t understand a word though. When you put it in a language you can understand you realize how bad the writing is. It’s jam packed with anime tropes, and takes place in a high school military academy. Even though there are a series of loyalty missions for each character, none of the characters develop beyond their tropey stereotypes.
Played the third one in Japanese too and really liked it, though I disliked that it reuses maps from VC2. That game had enough grinding already.
You can do that without playing VC1. VC2 takes place in a civil war 2 years after the end of the war in the first game. There are some key plot points of the first game that the premise of the second is built around but they are fairly predictable plot points.
The trouble with trying to play VC2 on Vita is that it’s not officially supported because the save games break when transferring from a PSP to Vita, and that breaks the DLC as well. You have to download it to a PS3 (maybe PC will work too?) and transfer it to a Vita.
I’ve actually bounced off this game 3 different times. Everything about it should be my thing, but I can usually only get through the first 10 hours before I give up. To all those that have finished it, do the tactics open up further into the game?
It seems like a lot of the missions only allow one or two strategies to beat them instead of focusing on using the squad you’ve built to combat problems. I know that’s par for the course during the first few tutorial fights, but even after unlocking the full squadbuilding mechanics, the missions seem to follow the same structure. It feels more like combat puzzles that need to be solved in highly specific ways instead of situations that can be approached in many ways.
Is this just early game blues? Does it become more freeform as the game goes on?
Hmm… I wouldn’t say that the strategy varies too much as it goes on. Your classes only unlock one new piece of equipment when they become elites, and otherwise stay the same throughout.
I did find that I started enjoying the strategy more after the midway point, but only because I found myself adapting to the way the game plays. I think your description of the missions as combat puzzles, as they really are presenting you with scenarios that need to be solved in a particular way.
There is limited room for variation in your approach, but there is some decision making. Figuring out when to risk sending out your tank and choosing team composition for a given mission. Figuring out what combination of soldiers to send down a street or around a bend to take out an installation did allow for some variation. And it was satisfying to figure out how different combinations of the classes could work together to take a position. But it also usually felt like I was just working towards finding the one most efficient solution to getting behind a tank or claiming an enemy camp.
I would say that if you are hoping for a game that rewards creative solutions to problems, it’s not the best. But I will say that the act of solving the puzzles got more satisfying as I went on.
How far did you get? I really started to have more fun around Missions 10 (Liberation of Fouzen) and 11(The Marberry Shore).
Hmm, I bought it on my Vita and was able to download and play it no problem, as it became recently compatible for the Vita. I really like VC2 a lot, as they make the class system a bit more balanced, and I love the melee classes, but that’s just me.