Valkyria Chronicles 4 Review War Changes You
Publisher: SEGA USA
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One
ESRB Rating: T
A Review Copy Was Provided by SEGA USA for the Purpose of Review
Valkyria Chronicles is honestly one of my favorite IPs by SEGA. This tactical JRPG mixes my love of strategic gameplay, World War II and engrossing narratives to create a mix of game that I can not help but fall in love with. Finally after nearly eight years, western fans have a chance to delve into a Valkyria Chronicles game again. For those of you confused as to why isn’t this Valkyria Chronicles 3, Valkyria Chronicles 3 was a PSP exclusive that sadly was never officially localized for an English release. That said I am glad that the fourth entry has been able to make its way over.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a strategy turned based JRPG in which you take control of Squad E, an elite squad of rangers to fight special op missions for the Federation in the second Europan War. The game is broken up into chapters. The chapters are broken up into episodes in which you can watch the story progress and go on missions in which you have to put your strategy skills to the test. Those coming in from earlier entries may be surprised to see how many battles you will be fighting in each chapter.
I am not sure where to begin with Valkyria Chronicle 4’s story. The story was something that kept me on the edge of my seat from chapter to chapter. In this war, you are tasked with seemingly impossible missions. Each mission just seems more and more impossible than the last. It had got to the point where I was honestly feeling exhausted alongside my units as we went forward, wondering if there actually was an end in sight. To be honest with you, I absolutely loved it. Of all of the Valkyria Chronicles games I have played, this would have to be the one that kept me the most emotionally attached out of the lot. The writing in the game does a fantastic job of making you feel the gravity of every situation at hand. You and everyone around you at times could die at any moment and the game never fails to remind you of that and keeps you alert at all times. However, the writing of the game would be nothing if it were not for the colorful cast of characters in this game.
The cast of Valkyria Chronicles 4 is really great. While Squad 7 will always be my favorite main squad in the series, Claude, Raz, Riley and Kai with their team of misfits honestly come a close a second. The main cast of characters in this game really bring everything together and they honestly play off of each other very well. This helps with the fact they are all childhood friends who were separated and brought back together due to the cruel mistress of life. Through the story, I grew to love all of their quirks and personalities that made them all feel like stand out protagonists in their own game. While Claude is the commander, the other three manage to make the game feel like there is not just one protagonist, but the entire team is one. This type of chemistry made the experience all the better.
Speaking of characters, while the main squad units have the spotlight, that does not mean everyone else in Squad E cannot share in the limelight. What I loved the most, and is something I wish earlier Valkyria Chronicles games did, was that almost every unit gets some sort of on screen performance. During cutscenes or flashbacks, you are bound to see one of your playable units in the midst of the scene, or part of one of the main casts backstory. I honestly loved this. It went a long way in making all of Squad E feel like one giant family. It also made it seem like I was not using everyone, they were still helping in the war effort in one way or another. The way this was handled built the world around it for the better and you can continue to learn more about them in detail through character subchapters. The character subchapters is where you will learn backstories and all the quirks of several different teammates. The game does an amazing job of developing even the smallest character in the game and is honestly a real treat.
Now onto the meat and potatoes of the game. This is war and you will be directing your squad to go out and do numerous missions. The gameplay for the most part is your standard Valkyria Chronicles fare. You select the units that you want to use for a mission and then you have to complete the objective with them. You will get a certain amount of points on each turn and depending on how many leaders you have in play, you will get a few additional ones. You use these to move your units across the battlefield. You take direct control of them and you can move them as long as they have the AP to move. This is where a lot of the strategy comes in, as each class has different movement speeds, weapons, and the like. You’ll have to make the choice if you wanna send a scout out to try and take the enemies base or a Shocktrooper to mow through a path of enemies in your way.
Since you will be playing as the commander of this band of misfits, you will also have special abilities that you can perform. These come in the form of orders. This allows you to buff or debuff your units or help get them out of sticky situations. What I appreciate this time around is the missions are much more varied compared to some earlier entries where all you had to do was buff a scout with good traits and rush through. In the game, doing that will be the quickest way to get your team killed. Some other changes to this game is the fact that vehicle units no longer require two command points to use, and now only require one like other units. This makes tank warfare much more viable in different circumstances and can add a whole new layer of strategy for things for you to do. Another cool addition to the game is the inclusion of a last stand. If your unit enters critical condition, they have the ability to make one final push before they collapse. This honestly can lead to its own level of strategy.
In a dire situation, I would often use units last stand to complete a clutch objective before passing out or successfully evacuate themselves and another unit. The last stand mechanic truly goes a long way but also in terms of passion each of your units feel as you progress.
Once you have received the spoils from war, you can use these resources to train and level up your units. In the training camp, you can level up all of your units in a single class so you do not have to worry about having to level up individual units. At the headquarters, you can also upgrade your equipment for your units. This allows you to customize how you want to use each unit individually with the different gun types you can give them. The upgrades in the game truly allows you to adapt your squad to your playstyle.
At the end of the day, Valkyria Chronicles 4’s gameplay is truly amazing and subline to play. It keeps all of the core mechanics of previous entries, keeps what works and began to enhance it and add new ideas. I honestly only scratched the surface of the gameplay changes and potential in this game, but believe me there is a lot more for you to do as you progress through the game.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a gorgeous looking game. The storybook aesthetic that this series has going on is in full shine here on this entry of the series. The levels are also really well crafted and are honestly some of the biggest maps in the series. There were times where I would send a scout out to see every nook and cranny a level has to offer. The only complaint I have with the presentation would have to be with the radio chatter you can hear in battle. Honestly the radio chatter is normally fine, but there were times where what was being said on the radio did not match what was happening in the game itself. It was just very jarring. Outside of that, everything about the presentation is fantastic, from the art style, the music, to the voice acting to the performance of the game. The game is just a real treat to go through. Also for those of you wanting the Nintendo Switch version, the game runs very well on Switch. The only thing you will have to look out for is the occasional frame dips when there is a lot of explosions or gunfire on screen.
I have only scratched the surface of everything that is in Valkyria Chronicles 4 and the journey that you will be expecting. At a certain point in the game, the story will turn itself on its head and the game you are playing after that point may feel like a completely different beast from the first half. I wish I was able to delve more into that, but believe me it is a real treat. Valkyria Chronicles 4 will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish and some of the plot twists and turns will leave you speechless at times. For longtime fans of the series, you will appreciate everything this game has to offer. For newcomers, this is a fantastic entry point for this series. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a game that will not leave my mind for a long time to come.