Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
How do you introduce a game that refuses to be bound into a category? Some games mix and mold genres to their will but some games can be difficult to even define as a mash up. Some people quickly state that today’s game is a JRPG but that’s not quite right. Others compare it to XCOM but that doesn’t feel quite right either. Whatever it is, it’s a game that you should absolutely pay attention to. Today’s game is Valkyria Chronicles, developed by Sega and released on the Playstation 3 in 2008.
Valkyria Chronicles takes place in the continent of Europa in the year 1935. The country of Gallia has remained neutral in a war between the Europan Imperial Alliance, an empire waging a war of conquest across Europa, and the Atlantic Federation, an allied group of countries trying to stop the Empire from taking over everything. After the Empire invades Gallia, the main character Welkin Gunther opts to join a militia group and fight to retake his homeland.
You probably see the allegory here just from that description but in case you missed it, Valkyria Chronicles is a very thinly veiled take on World War 2. The Empire is Nazi Germany, the Federation is the Allied Nations, and Gallia is a bit of Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium all mashed up into a single country. While the game has several anime twists to it, Valkyria Chronicles does an impressive job of capturing what it must have felt like to be a small guerrilla force up against a massive behemoth.
Valkyria Chronicles has plenty of cutscenes to tell its story but the gameplay itself has you managing your team both on and off the battlefield. While in camp, you can setup your team from a large roster available. Each potential team member has their own unique personality, along with their class and statistics. Personality traits allow characters certain boons or penalties during battle depending on how their used. One character may have increased accuracy when near their friends while another may do better off by themselves. Players can also manage what weapon each character uses and while classes can’t be mixed and matched, you can unlock a variety of guns for each class that have different strengths and weaknesses. It may be worth doing less damage to give your long range sniper better accuracy.
Once you’ve managed your team, you can go into battle. Battles take place both from an overhead tactical map and from a behind-the-shoulder third person perspective. When you start a battle, you’re given an objective and your soldiers are placed on the map. You then are given a certain number of points that let you move your soldiers. By spending a point on a certain character, the game turns to a third person perspective and you can move and shoot freely. Be careful though because you only have so much movement with your character before you have to go back to the tactical map and spend another point. You can spend multiple points on the same character but it has diminishing returns, with each point spent on the same turn giving less and less movement, so it’s important to utilize the full team in each battle. Also, if a character falls on the battlefield and no allies are around to stabilize them, that character will die and you’ll need to recruit a new team member to take their place.
Valkyria Chronicles received strong reviews when it first released on the Playstation 3. It was noted as being tough, with some battles in particular marking huge difficulty spikes, but the unique gameplay and great story were enough for most critics to recommend it. Despite the praise, Valkyria Chronicles sold pretty poorly in the west. The Japanese sales were enough to make sequels but these scaled down sequels for the PSP were not as well received by fans, with the third not being localized in the west at all. For a while, it seemed like the franchise was dead there but after Sega released a Steam port of the game, almost on a whim, Valkyria Chronicles received a huge spike in sales, prompting a revival. The game has now received a remaster on the Playstation 4 and the Switch and received a full-scale sequel, Valkyria Chronicles 4, for PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One and the Switch in 2018.
Thank you so much for listening! If you’d like to hear more about Valkyria Chronicles or the other games we talk about, go follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday. You can also request games to be talked about. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.
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