Valkyria Chronicles is a fantasy-based RPG, and as such there isn’t room for too many classroom facts. Math does factor heavily into combat, and players are shown charts detailing their performance after each battle. When working out the details of Squad 7, too, there are plenty of charts detailing the statistics and equipment of each member, the strengths of various weapons and other information.
Creativity & Imagination
By the Gamer:
Between battles, players are given the option to return to headquarters and customize Squad 7 in a number of ways. Squad 7 contains 20 members at any given time, and new recruits constantly show up, allowing plays to swap out certain soldiers for other ones.
As players collect experience, they spend it to level up each of the five classes rather than individual units. When a class reaches a certain level, each member of that class will get a new ability, etc. Players can however equip individual units with different weapons, whether they’re weapons earned for completing certain objectives or general weapons, which are available to all soldiers and can be customized by the player.
Players can buy both weapon upgrades and tank parts, unlocking more as the game progresses. Weaponry can be upgraded in different ways; when upgrading sniper rifles, for example, players can choose to emphasize range or power or add special effects to ammunition.
In battle players are free to develop their own tactics in response to each unique mission. Players choose a handful of units from their lineup to place on the map at the beginning, and are then free to switch between each of them freely from turn to turn. Players are free to favor head-on attacks or stealthier strategies; during most missions, any number of ideas is viable.
By the Developer:
Valkria Chronicles offers a unique mix of tactical strategy design and fast-paced, first-person-shooter-esque action that makes for a highly memorable experience. The game uses a sort of simple set of basic rules – five soldier classes, with rock-paper-scissors style strengths and weaknesses – and puts them into fantastically designed levels, each of which either exploits the set rules in unexpected ways or adds totally new elements to the mix and challenges players to respond.
The game features an engrossing original story populated by some memorable characters, and is exemplary as far as music goes, containing an impressive original score. The game’s art style has garnered particular acclaim, with graphics that look like something between anime and watercolor painting.
The managing of resources is an important element of many areas of Valkyria Chronicles, though for the most part it is a relatively simple task. Between battles players can spend money and experience to level up classes, buy new weapons or unlock a few other items. It’s all a relatively simple matter of saving up enough money or experience for whatever upgrade you want and going for it.
In battle things can be a little trickier. While basic weapons have unlimited ammunition, many special weapons – such as grenades, sniper rounds and anti-tank missiles – are dealt out to units in very small numbers. Most of these weapons refill one round every turn, and there is also a weak engineer class unit that can refill the ammo of allies. This means players will need to plan carefully when planning attacks, as running out of ammo unexpectedly will quickly spell disaster.
Action Points, used to move and use units, are an even more important resource; both sides of a battle receive a set number each turn, and they are used for every available action. Keeping track of these and planning moves each turn is another important detail.
People skills are only involved in Valkyria Chronicles as far as the game’s story is involved. The story is a compelling, featuring likable characters and a war between three separate nations, and it’s fairly easy to get hooked into it. However, the player doesn’t have any say in the progression of the story, outside of perhaps choosing whether or not to take up a few optional missions. However, a good portion of Valkyria Chronicles’ story is spent on the subject or racism. While the race in question is a fictional one here, the message comes through fairly clearly as several characters – including one of the lead protagonists – learns that her prejudices are unfounded.
Valkyria Chronicles permits you to pick battles from a menu. When you're in this menu, you work on upgrading units, buying equipment and generally manage your army. Once you go into battle, though, you are moving units and leading them by hand through battle. These are the two sorts of "modes" I'm talking about. I hope this helps.
When customizing Squad 7 between battles, players will need to choose carefully which classes to focus on and how to customize each weapon. Maintaining a balance becomes important – particularly late in the game – and focusing too much or ignoring a certain class early on can make for hard times ahead.
In battle, Valkyria becomes a highly tactical affair. Landscape is always a huge factor, and whether its wide-open deserts or dense urban areas players will need to take advantage of the landscape to survive.
Players take turns moving units by hand, and as they navigate areas and fire at enemies it quickly becomes apparent that taking cover is an important part of play. Units that have taken cover become harder to hit and are immune to headshots, though there are ways around it; tanks, anti-tank missiles and grenades can destroy cover, leaving the covered units exposed. Tanks themselves are impervious to standard fire and can take a number of missiles; however if their treads are destroyed by explosives they are left as sitting ducks, and in any case their rear side is a constantly-exposed weakness that must be protected.
In many ways, Valkyria Chronicles plays very much like a board game, particularly as the player scopes out the locations of allied and enemy units from the overhead map before taking control to move and aim in real-time. The relationship between each unit is very carefully balanced, making each unit important to a successful team. Players that are careful to take all of this into account will see success.
Valkyria Chronicles is not a simulation game.
Valkyria Chronicles was received extremely well critically, being given high marks and “game of the year” nominations from many different publications. Particular praise has been aimed at its often-bold game design and exemplary audio and visual style.
A good portion of Valkyria Chronicles’ story is spent on the subject or racism. While the race in question is a fictional one here, the message comes through fairly clearly as several characters – including one of the lead protagonists – learns that her prejudices are unfounded.