This is my first delve into the Valkyria Chronicles and starting with number four has left me playing catch up with the characters and world of the Federation and the Empire. And being a hugely story driven game I really do feel at a disadvantage.
After the first few chapters I pretty much had a handle on what is basically an alternate history loosely based around World War Two. Unfortunately being ex-military the behaviour and actions of just about every character had really begun to grate on me.
I get that it is fictional, Japanese, and aimed at a certain market but I just can not warm to the characters at all. Even in their totally impractical, and inappropriate, uniforms…
You take charge of Claude Wallace and the rest of Squad E of the Federation Army as they try push the Empire back from taking over the entire region, including their home country of Gallia. Squad E all seem to have links to each other in some way and even more links to others they encounter on their journey.
This is where I really feel behind the eight ball. Squad mates going by different names, nasty personality clashes, and general bullying all seem common place in this dysfunctional unit. All actions that would cause any real military unit to implode within days.
And because of the huge story arc you have between gameplay it is easy to either lose interest or build a seething hatred toward characters. Or maybe I’m just a grumpy old ex-sailor.
The gameplay itself is a turn based strategy style much like XCOM and is really well implemented. You have Claude leading from the front in a tank and the remainder of Squad E having a varied array of abilities. All the squad members and equipment can be improved via the home base with options to spend experience and credits on training and research.
Initially the options and micromanagement can seem overwhelming but it doesn’t take long to get into the swing of things. The tutorials are only text based but are always available to revisit.
The only real issue I had with the combat was getting hooked on the environment during the move phase, this included not fitting through gaps that looked big enough, thus wasting movement points backtracking.
If you haven’t gathered by now from the screenshots, the visual styling of Valkyria Chronicles 4 is in the animated styling’s we have come to expect from Japanese based studios. I like it, and the gamers that will get right into the story will no doubt like it too. There is a mix of both storyboard and animated cut scenes, which I found myself skipping through very fast. Again like tutorials, all the story scenes are replayable via the Book Mode, the name for the menu system here.
If, like me, the story isn’t your cup of tea then there is a Skirmish Mode to get you straight into the action. Which is where I will be thanks to a game crash and failed save game. There is only manual saves so please remember to do it often.
I really did try to like Valkyria Chronicles 4 but thanks to the story pacing and size I found it really hard. The gameplay is great but takes a backseat to the story telling, which is good if you are engaging with the characters and plotline. Neither of which I did.
Skipping through cut scenes as fast as I could only to be presented with another one did my head in. I want to PLAY the game not watch it, and it is a joy to play when you do. Of course there is a huge market of fans out there for Valkyria Chronicles 4, unfortunately I am not one of them.