Valkyria Chronicles 4 Review – PC

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a turn based strategy game, where you control a squad of soldiers fighting for the “Atlantic Federation“, and the “Autocratic Eastern Imperial Alliance” filling in for the Allies and Axis respectively.  Claude is the main character, but you’ll quickly get to know all of the strengths and weaknesses of Squad E’s members. They will be an essential part to overcoming the battle ahead. Not all of the traits will necessarily be positive, but they do add to the immersion as you take time learn their traits.  Keigel is an otherwise solid anti-tank unit (Lancer) is susceptible to losing some of his action points [Ability to move and act] if he approaches a downed solider. At least in my experience troops can go down quickly, but it adds all the more to the satisfaction when you play through a level just right and make sure everyone gets out alive.

For those uninitiated with the series, Valkyria Chronicles plays in “Chapters” which will either be a short cutscene or a battle scenario. An example would be 2-4 chapters of story taking up 5-15 minutes depending on your reading speed and the amount of dialogue and/or text followed by a combat scenario. If you weren’t aware you should know to expect some of the usual anime tropes, unsolicited sexual advances, followed by getting smashed in the face, a trapped character that is a woman in all but bio text and so on. They even added a Beach DLC episode that sadly wasn’t included with this copy of the game. It wasn’t an issue for me but don’t expect a gritty and realistic portrayal of war. It’s like playing an alternate history WW2 anime and frankly it’s pretty fun for what it is.

The scenarios play out with you selecting a small group to deploy to an area and as they are injured you can rescue them with another unit and bring in reinforcements with certain capture points.  There are several classes with their own niches, Shock-trooper, Grenadier, Engineer, Scout, Lancer and lastly Sniper.  Personally my favorites have to be the Grenadier and the Sniper. They are great for clearing the way for your scouts and shock-troopers. It’s easy to get into the swing of things early on, although the tutorial can drag on at times, there are constantly new toys or soldiers introduced into the game to keep things interesting. Not to mention that traits on your characters will actually change as the game’s plot advances. You’ll quickly learn positioning and tactics thanks to very clear cause and effect relationships in the game-play. Keeping your troops facing towards the enemy behind cover and if possible, with their besties, will do wonders as they fire at incoming enemies on the opponents turn and sometimes even duck out of the way of incoming shots.

Each turn will involve you choosing one of your deployed soldiers and running them around the map. Clicking on a character puts you into a 3rd person over the shoulder camera with a meter showing how far you can move. Strafing and management of your action points is important when there are landmines and mortars to worry over.  Unfortunately it isn’t all sun and rainbows.  There are levels that had certain scripted events where gameplay would get clunky because the enemies might be scripted to not move past a certain point in the level. I was left guessing at times what route or actions was I intended to take in order to advance due to running into effective stonewalls in the level. Thankfully there are small things like the polish on the menus, occasionally hilarious dialogue and humorous ragdoll animations to appreciate as well.

The game sports a very stylized art style via what the developers call “The CANVAS Engine “, which I personally enjoy quite a lot. I think it will keep the game looking good long after its release date. While this game is multi-platform this certainly isn’t a rushed PC port. There is a decent amount of visual options and resolutions. Although the English audio is satisfactory with the exception of a character here and there the option for Japanese audio is always available if you are so inclined. It plays pretty well with a controller as well if you want to lean back and relax. There is controller support for Xbox 360, Xbox One, and DualShock 4 as well.

Overall I liked the game design, and the trait system makes for some very entertaining units. The art style just goes very well with this kind of game. If the anime style plotline was just slightly better I could see this getting a better score, but for where it’s at I believe this is as good as its going to get.

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