Hey gang, Valkor here. I’ve gone through all sorts of video games here at TOV from action, visual novels and RPGs; but the one genre that I usually steer clear of is strategy types, which includes strat/RPGs; I’m not against them, they’re usually not that much fun for me save for Warcraft 1 and 2 and Starcraft. But then Valkyria Chronicles 4 came into my world, which was supposed to be a Blackice piece seeing as he’s done the previous titles. However, since he wasn’t available for this one, it was up to me to take the helm. And I’ll be honest, it wasn't as painful playing through it as I thought it would and makes me wish I had played the previous games.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a blend of turn-based tactical battle with RPG elements sprinkled throughout. You command the troop of Squad E, an eclectic bunch made up of childhood friends (and enemies) who are led by Commander Claude Wallace and have come together for the greater good against the forces of the Empire. Claude and Squad E are tasked with taking up the front-line for most battles leading up to the big campaign called “Operation Northern Cross”. The battles can be pretty lengthy and you’ll have to utilize your squad to the best of their abilities in order to finish without a loss of life. Oh and deaths are permanent, if you can't revive a player in time!
You get to choose between six soldier types with the newest to the series being the Grenadiers; you start things out from a top-down grid map, where you can spot key locations of the enemy and the position of their base camps. Once you’ve selected your crew, you kick off the skirmish by selecting a soldier; the view then changes to a 3rd-person perspective where you control all the action (running, shooting, crawling, etc.). Each soldier only gets a set number of steps as well as a limited amount of ammo. But they gain some back when you switch to a different character. The trick is to utilize each character’s limitation to work best on the field and reach your goal. Some objectives are pretty straightforward, while others will require you to use some serious thinking.
In between campaigns, you also get lengthy animated cutscenes that gives you more insight about upcoming operations, some character backstory, as well as any romantic involvement or conflicts. Some might consider it as “taking a break” after a heated encounter, others may simply want to dive right into the next operation. And while you can’t skip the episodes directly, you can pretty much button breeze right through it if you feel the story is getting too monotonous and you want to get right into the next battle.
When you’re done with all of the cutscenes and you’ve progressed past a mission, you can head on over to headquarters, where you can start to build up your squad by training them (applying experience so they can level up). Or you can build up the equipment in the R&D section. Personally, this is my favorite area because it’s in my RPG element. There’s also side missions or “skirmishes” that you can complete in order to gain points to help build up your troop. Plus it’s another way to break up the monotony at times when things appear to be going slowly; skirmishes are quick but still require some skill to beat.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 took some time for me to truly get the logistics of the gameplay; this was an entirely different level of strat/RPG that I’m used to, which is of the top-down, automatic play variety. However, once I got used to this game's mechanics, I didn’t always win, nor did I get the highest score. But I kept pushing through with Squad E, to give you my verdict in the TOV Breakdown!
I didn’t think I’d enjoy Valkyria Chronicles 4 as much as I did; truth be told, from the jump, I wasn’t really feeling it. But before I knew it I was completely immersed in the game's story and action that I couldn’t wait to jump into the next mission. I’m a fast player that's all about getting the job done with the quickness. But VC4 isn’t about that life. It’s the type of game you need to take your time because trying to rush through it won't help you one bit. My favorite mission (which is also a perfect example) happens early on in the game where you have to tag the fake enemy tanks so that the real ones can be destroyed. I recall boldly rounding a corner with Godwin, only to be met by one of the real tanks that put me down with the quickness. Thankfully I had gotten away far enough to have another player come in and get him (Godwin lives to fight another day). But that taught me to think smarter as I progressed. The combat system is smart, which if you’ve already played the previous titles, then you might experience some difficulty (I would assume), but for us newbs, it’s a workout as the enemy AI will keep you on your toes. The characters are pretty cheesy, but in that weird, anime sort of way; they aren’t too annoying, and each character does bring their own voice and personality to the table. Graphically, VC4 is beautiful to look it with vibrant colors, especially in the early stages, with a nice watercolor blend to give it that old-timey look and feel. Finally, I think the music is just "OK", as it doesn’t really pop, nor is it memorable. However, it fits where it needs to be and that’s really all that matters. In the end, Valkyria Chronicles 4 brings enough to the table for veterans and newcomers alike to enjoy.
I think the game could do without the background chatter during missions, which is usually something I’d enjoy hearing. However, in this game, it gets repetitive real quick and does nothing for what’s happening around you. A good example is during the tank operation, you’ll hear someone yell “whoa! Oh, it’s just a fake” (meaning a fake tank), which happens a lot! You hear it once, Okay. But more than once then it becomes annoying. Lastly, I think some of the anime cutscenes go on way longer than they should; it’s a nice break after a lengthy battle, but we’re bordering on Metal Gear Solid 4 level of cutscenes here, which can be a bit too much at times.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is available now and if you’re a fan of the series, then you should already have a copy. But if you don’t then you need to get one ASAP. As a person who doesn’t play much strat/RPGs, this is one title that is seriously drawing me in. I’d highly recommend it. So, out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving Valkyria Chronicles a 4.