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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Valkyria Chronicles Review!

Okay, you remember that "Top 10 Heroes in Gaming" post I did? And how it had two characters from a slightly obscure hidden gem RPG called Valkyria Chronicles? Well, since I beat the main story a few days ago, I am now bringing you a review!

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Also, the version I played was the PS4 Remastered version (basically the same as the normal game on PS3 but with better graphics and DLC missions pre-installed on the disc).But what exactly IS Valkyria Chronicles? Well, aside from being the second RPG I played with the word "chronicles" in the name (speaking of which, why do SO many RPG games have the word "chronicles" in the name?), it's a game that takes place in the 1930's and is heavily inspired by World War II. Instant win points since I love history.

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Something worth noting was the success of this game. Valkyria Chronicles not only garnered a remaster, but also several sequels and even it's own anime series. But the game itself follows the adventures of Squad 7 (not to be confused with Team 7 from Naruto) as they help fight off an Imperial Invasion.

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Out of all the Squad 7 members, Welkin (left) and
Alicia (right) play the biggest role in the story.

The premise of the game is interesting. On the fictional continent Europa (guess what it's named after) a war for a mineral called ragnite breaks out between two superpowers, the Atlantic Federation and the Empire (it has a longer official name but they only use it once and I can't be bothered to type out the full name so instead I am typing out this absurdly long parenthetical sentence explaining why I can't be bothered to type out the full name).

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The war eventually spreads to a small country called Gallia (pictured above, it's the tiny blue bit), which is where Welkin and Alicia come in. After the Empire successfully takes over the border towns, Welkin and Alicia are enlisted into the Gallian Militia, as Lieutenant and Sergeant respectively of Squad 7, Third Regiment.

The rest of the game follows the newly formed Squad 7 as they are sent on various missions to help put an end to the war.

Oh, and the reason why the game is called "Valkyria Chronicles" is because Valkyria is derived from Valkyrie, which are all-female beings from Norse mythology who were said to pick and choose who lives and who dies in battle. If they choose you to live, your life continues on as normal. But if they choose you to die, they take you to the hall of the afterlife, Valhalla (Norse version of Heaven in case you are wondering). Anyone they bring to Valhalla then becomes einherjar, who must prepare for Ragnarok (Norse version of the end of the world). I really like culture in case you are wondering. Oh, and the in-game reason is because there are all-female super soldiers called Valkyria in the game. Although I guess this is a semi-spoiler, because the game doesn't bother mentioning the Valkyria until Chapter 7.

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Alicia O.P. please Nerf!

Now that we got the story out of the way, let's talk gameplay. Valkyria Chronicles has, in my opinion, one of the most fun combat systems ever. Not counting Undertale's SPARE-ing mechanics. And a certain game's half-RPG, half-Action-Brawler mechanics. I actually got a new game with those very mechanics, and I will reveal (and review) what that game is once I beat the main story of that game.

Okay, so basically, This game has turn based combat, which is good for people who like slow and steady instead of "kill everything by mindlessly mashing buttons all day". Every turn begins with a top-down (called Command Mode) view of the map, with your party members showing up as blue icons, and enemies show up as red icons.

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While in Command Mode you have these gold medal looking things known as C.P. (Command Points) which can then be used to take direct control of any one character at a time (it takes two C.P. to control tanks). Taking direct control puts you in Action Mode. While in Action mode, a little gauge at the bottom shows how much you can move. As long as said gauge does not run out, you can run wherever you want. And finally, pressing the Right Bumper (R1) button (on the PS4 controller) will put you in Aim Mode, where you can look around and shoot enemies with your currently equipped gun. Something I like is if you are close enough to inflict damage, it shows you some statistics at the top of the screen, chief among them is it shows you EXACTLY how many bullets it's going to take to kill that enemy. The only exception to that rule are the bosses, whose "how many hits to kill them" statistic is replaced with a bright red question mark (?). Also, you can keep using C.P. on the same character repeatedly to make them keep attacking, or cover more ground.

Furthermore, each of the Squad 7 members are divided into five classes based on fighting style. In order of top to bottom...

  1. Scouts - Arguably the most overpowered out of the five classes. Scouts have high mobility and can cross a lot of ground in one turn. Both Welkin and Alicia are Scouts, with Alicia being the best Scout in the game, but I will explain why later. Scouts typically have average amounts of health, slightly low defense, but incredibly high accuracy and attack. Once level up to Level 11, Scouts can use Grenade Launchers in addition to their rifles.
  2. Shock-Troopers - My personal favorite out of the bunch, Shock-Troopers are your damage dealers. Equipped with Machine Guns that often fire 20 bullets per attack (and later on get flipping FLAMETHROWERS!!!), these guys dish out a ton of damage. While I was expecting them to have terrible defense to balance them out, Shock-Troopers are also fairly tank-y (both figuratively since they have large health pools with even larger defense stats, and literally considering that Shock-Troopers can somehow survive getting blasted at point-blank range by a tank's cannon). Only downside is lack of mobility.
  3. Lancers - The only thing Shock-Troopers can't kill without assistance from the other classes are tanks. That's where Lancers come in. Lancers are equipped with anti-tank "lances" (not actual lances, just rocket launchers built to LOOK like lances) designed specifically to kill tanks. Only problem is, they are very situational. I mean, sure, you unlock a special anti-personnel lance to fight on foot enemies, but for whatever reason Lancer characters struggle against anything that is not a tank. 
  4. Engineers - Arguably the worst out of all the classes, Engineers are just a more support focused version of the Scout. They can heal tanks. Which is a good thing since, as far as I know, it's the only real way of healing your own tanks. But naturally, something that is so supportive is very easy to kill. Engineers have painfully low amounts of health and defense, and unless you want to challenge yourself, the only real reason to have a Engineer in your team at all is like I said, they are the only way to heal your own tanks. That, or have a Engineer hang out with a Sniper because Engineers also automatically refill the ammo of any teammates around them. Which kind of redeems them, I guess...
  5. Snipers - Definitely not the most "overpowered" but definitely the most "fun to use". Snipers have the longest range and sharpest accuracy in the game (they're snipers, what did you expect?) and can kill most enemies in one shot. Only downside is unlike the other classes, Snipers have a finite amount of ammo (each Sniper only carries three bullets at a time). And terrible mobility.
Another mechanic is that every Party member (there are at least 43) has special passive abilities, called Potential, that has a chance of activating depending on the situation. Most of these are really good buffs, but sometimes some characters have really bad Potentials that make them weaker. Which is another reason why I dislike Engineers. Almost every Engineer character have terrible passive abilities. But it's not their fault. A nice touch is that each Party Member get a Potential based on their personalities and origins. Example: One of my favorite characters, Largo, has a special Potential called Veggie-Maniac. What does it do? Whenever Largo steps on something natural (grass, mud, sand, etc) it reminds him of his love of vegetables. This somehow makes Largo hit like a truck. Plus every time it activates he shouts "Veg-sta-BULLS!!!". Then again, Largo has a lot of funny lines, like during the first encounter with a battleship called the Marmota ("Oh my gosh Spencer you're not supposed to mention the Marmota because it's a spoiler!". Well, the game spoils you anyway, since for whatever reason they put the Marmota in the opening cinematic) Largo says "Oh, right. We just gotta stop it. It's a battleship, boss! How we gonna stop it!?" and of course, during an optional side mission focusing on Largo himself, he delivers this line. "Vegetables are like BOMBS PACKED WITH TONS OF NUTRIENTS AND FLAVOR!!!! Kids NEED to eat veggies to grow up right! They're basically MADE of veggies!!!" (Rosie: "...Which are like bombs...?"). 

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And the final bit of this game's fun but complex combat is that Welkin can issue Orders to teammates. Orders are basically buffs that, if used at the right time, can turn a Character into a one man/woman army. Especially Alicia. She was overpowered enough as is, but give her the Order Awaken Potential (forces a Party Members passive abilities to activate no matter what) and you got a level sweeper right there. You can probably beat the entire game using ONLY Alicia. Actually, no you can't do that. Because there are two moments in the game where, because of reasons I won't spoil, she is unavailable for that mission.

Oh, and a warning. This game has a perma-death feature. In case you've never heard of a perma-death feature, it's a mechanic that some games have (especially notoriously difficult games like this one) where, if a party member dies, and they are not revived in time, they stay dead. FOREVER... Because of this mechanic, I literally quit without saving to save one of my Lancers who got one shot by a enemy sniper (Guess that sniper was a MLG Pro...). So take caution when playing the harder missions.

So now we covered just about everything, let's move on to what I like and don't like about this game. First the graphics. I know I was playing the HD 60fps remaster of this game, which is an improvement in and of itself, but the graphics are AMAZING. I really like the "book" aesthetic the game has (Spoiler Alert: The entire game is designed to look like a novel). As for the music, the opening theme is surprisingly relaxing. But overall, the music is really good. Now for voice acting. Woo boy... Well, the voice acting was mostly good, except for whoever voiced General Damon. General Damon has by far the worst voice acting in the whole game, which is odd, since as far as Japanese-to-English video game dubs go, this game's voice acting is really good. Seriously, whoever voiced Damon sounded like he had a REALLY sore throat when they recorded the dialogue. But then again, even if Damon had a decent voice actor, he would STILL be my least favorite character in the whole game because he's cocky, arrogant, moronic (Captain Verrot literally called him out on using a full frontal assault plan when that would clearly not work due to lack of manpower and weaponry, and his bio literally states that most Gallian residents believe he is too incompetent for his office), and dismisses a lot of my personal favorite characters as cannon fodder at best. Guess having the worst voice acting in the game made him even MORE unlikable. 

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Selvaria's power level is OVER NINE THOUSAND!!!

Something I mixed feelings for is the ranking system. After every battle, you are given a rank based on well you did during the battle. But here's the catch. The ONLY factor the system takes into account is how quickly it took to complete the mission, and the game does encourage higher ranks since the higher the rank, the more experience points you get at the end. I would have loved it if it took multiple factors, like how many enemies defeated, or how many Orders used, to make it a little more interesting that just speed-running the game. But I can live with it as is.

Something I love about this game, and I know it's a small thing, but it is so worth mentioning. You level your party members by class, not individually. This is AMAZING. It basically means all characters of the same class will level up at the same time (i.e. Alicia and Wavy will level up simultaneously because they are both Scouts, regardless of how often you use those characters). This makes it so you can customize your team to your liking, and never have to worry about training up weaker party members, since they level up alongside your mainstay party members. I wish EVERY RPG game was like this. It saves SO MUCH TIME!!!

I also like the story of this game, although it does get somewhat predictable if you watch anime (especially if you see how almost comically destructive the Valkyria themselves get, like Selvaria wiping out 10 tanks with one Kamehameha- Oops I mean - Beam blast). The only thing I don't like about the story is that a certain character's death/sacrifice felt kind of unnecessary. I mean, that character's death could have been avoided and the ending would be largely the same. But another character's death actually mattered, since THAT character's death leads to important character development for Squad 7, particularly Rosie.

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Rosie!

Overall, I give this game a 9.5/10.  The story was mostly good, the graphics are amazing (this game might be the prettiest game I have ever played), the music was good. The voice acting was mostly good, would have been perfect if General Damon had a better voice actor (I'm not hating the voice actor in question, I'm just saying he sounded pretty sore when they recorded his dialogue) and if the ranking system took other factors in when giving you your rank.

P.S. You remember how in my "Top 10 Heroes in Gaming" list how I mentioned that I'll let you know if Welkin and Alicia become a thing? Well guess what? Welkin and Alicia are a thing. They got married and everything at the end of the game (Only Welkin would propose to his sweetheart in the middle of a combat zone. Also, only Welkin would use a flower as a makeshift engagement ring. Good job, Welkin. *gives thumbs up*).

3 comments:

  1. Only after reading this review do I realize how often I use the word "literally". Guess that is now my favorite word because I use it so much on this blog... :P

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  2. Thanks for this informative article, I hope you will get most positive response specially for this post. . . .
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