Valkyria Chronicles Impressions

We get a good look at the blitz battle system and beautiful watercolor aesthetic of Valkyria Chronicles.

Take even the briefest glance at any image from Valkyria Chronicles and you'll find yourself looking again. The unique visual aesthetic is a sort of anime realism, with pencil-drawn lines and shading, and a color scheme that is reminiscent of a watercolor painting. This style pervades every element of the game and looks even better in motion than it does in a still image. We were delighted with the visual appeal of Valkyria Chronicles when we saw it in action at Sega Gamers' Day, but that wasn't all that caught our eye. An engaging battle system that blends turn-based tactics with third-person action added a good deal of substance to a game already heaping with style.

Valkyria Chronicles tells the story of the small republic of Gallia, which is caught between two warring superpowers on the continent of Europa (a fictional version of Europe in the 1930s). The Atlantic Federation is clashing with the Eastern European Imperial Alliance over a precious resource called ragnite that is used for everything from fuel to food to construction to weaponry. Gallia tries to remain neutral in the conflict, but their large reserves of ragnite ensure that the conflict comes to them whether they like it or not. You'll follow a handful of main characters through a long story arc as they desperately try to defend their homeland against the invading forces. This story unfolds through an in-game storybook, and each page includes expository cutscenes and one or two battles.

The invading empires brought some toys with them.

Sega has dubbed the combat system in Valkyria Chronicles the blitz battle system. The traditional grid- or hex-based battlefields of many turn-based role-playing games are nowhere to be found. Instead, when one of your units comes up in the rotation, you'll switch to a third-person view and be able to run wherever you like in the battlefield. How far you can run will be limited by your action meter, a bar on the bottom of the screen that drains with your every step. In the early countryside battle we saw, the battleground was not very big and a character could easily cover most of it in one or two turns. However, just because it is your turn to move doesn't mean that the enemies aren't paying attention. If you run through their line of sight and within their range, they'll fire off a few shots of opportunity. These didn't seem to be terribly damaging, but they serve as good incentive to move quickly from cover to cover and end your turn in a (relatively) safe location. Your units return the favor to exposed enemies, and it seems as if this will lend a more urgent tone to battlefield encounters.

Attacking your enemies requires you to use a command point. These are represented as copper medallions lined up at the top of the screen, and you're afforded one to two per unit per round, depending on that unit's importance. Attack with a gun-toting unit and the camera will zoom in to an over-the-shoulder scope mode so you can gauge your aim and fire when ready. Command points can also be used to heal, throw a grenade, or use an item. By pooling these command points rather than attaching an action quota to each unit individually, you'll have some flexibility to use more powerful or strategically positioned allies more than once per round. However, be warned that their action meter won't fill up to 100% the second time around, so you'll have to be more frugal with your motion.

There are 50 characters in Valkyria Chronicles, each one belonging to a particular class. There are soldiers, heavy machine gunners, snipers, artillery (tanks!), and engineers. We saw all but the last class in action, and were told only that engineers can help resupply units with ammunition. Characters level up along with their classes, but you can tweak them individually to specialize their skills. They'll also have little quirks, such as being allergic to grass or really liking urban environments, that will affect their performance in battle. If one of your characters falls in battle, you'll have three turns to reach the downed character before he or she dies. When a character dies in Valkyria Chronicles, that death is final. If that character is critical to the storyline, your game will be over and you'll be sent back to your previously saved state.

Your goal in battle is to eliminate the enemy, but there are a few indirect things you can do to help your squad along the way. Larger battlefields have flag points that, once captured, can be used to maneuver troops more efficiently and call for reinforcements if you lose any units. You can also use grenades or, better yet, tanks to destroy walls to expose the enemy or open up a flanking route. In urban battlefields, your units will be able to climb towers or buildings to get a better shot at your foes.

The blitz battle system aims to present a healthy diversity of tactical challenges across a number of varied locations. Though the artistic style may seem whimsical at first, this seems only to underscore the prewar innocence of Gallia, which is swept away all too soon by the ravages of war. Valkyria Chronicles, released last month in Japan, will be coming to North America in November, so keep your eyes on GameSpot for more coverage.

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Chris_Watters

Chris Watters

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.
Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles

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44 comments
Falru
Falru

Sounds a lot like a sort of industrial-aged Fire Emblem with an awesome visual style. Hope it's great! (I don't own a PS3 so I probably won't play it but I still hope it's a good game :) )

JJPasadena
JJPasadena

I just played the demo and I gotta say that I had a pretty good time playing it. It reminds me a lot of a game (that I still own) for the PS2 titled 'Ring of Red'. Both have that same alternate-history strategy RPG thing going on. I don't know if I'd buy the game, but I'd definitely rent it from a certain company which sends you titles in the mail. ;)

dreaminstereo
dreaminstereo

I'm on the fence with this one. I played the demo and it was alright, but didn't really strike me as fantastic. I do love the graphics though. I'm not totally adverse to strategy games (I love the FF Tactics series) but the pace seemed a little slow to me. I might borrow it off a friend when it comes out and see if a more indepth look convinces me.

Marder-I
Marder-I

WOW, I thought I saw something on this a while ago, but I forgot about it, til now, LOL!! Now this game could just make me pick up a P-3 by November regardless of no price cut as of yet....... Cheers, lookin' good here for this game! Tom

SaintAjora
SaintAjora

Great art style and great gameplay. I'm very excited about this game! Go Go Sega! =D

sakuranoame
sakuranoame

I'm playing the Japanese version right now~ It's awesome~ The battles involve lots of strategic planning; often times you need to play the battle twice to get a higher score (rank). There are a total of four ranks: S, A, B, and C. Ranks are determined by how soon you win a battle. However, a higher rank doesn't necessarily give you more experience points and money. If you won a battle too quickly, there probably wasn't enough time for you to eliminate more enemies. To get more experience points and money, players need to blow up tanks and eliminate higher ranked enemy soldiers; killing the lowlies won't give you anything (but of course, you still need to kill them first, otherwise you're the one dying). Another thing that I really like about this game is that we get to decide how experience points are distributed among the soldier classes. So basically, I can make the heavy machine gunners stronger if I want to. Money is used to develop new weapons, new armour and tank equipment (new parts that give better protection, higher HP, better attack power or higher mobility). We can also obtain special weapons by defeating one particular enemy, and only in a certain chapter, on a certain battlefield. About the "little quirks" that GameSpot has mentioned above, some of them are kinda funny actually. Not all of them are negative status ailments. For instance, a gay soldier will temporarily gain higher attack power if he runs pass by a male comrade on the battle field. Or a womanizer will aim better when he's close to a lady comrade because he wants to show off his skills. There's even a *sadistic* female machine gunner who gets pleasure by killing enemy troops, and therefore boosting her attack power. Overall, this is a great game, but I wish it could be longer. There is only one major battle in each chapter, and there are only 18 chapters. There are also side quests that you can fight, and you can choose the level of difficulty. Each side quest battle can be fought repeatedly, in case you didn't get enough experience points or money during the main quest. Oh, and by the way, the game features a wonderful cast of (Japanese) voice actors, and quite a few are famous. You'll recognize their voices if you love anime.

lew_0911
lew_0911

Reminds me of the art style in the Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions. That was a really impressive style.

Liverpoolred
Liverpoolred

I have a jp version of the game as I lived in HKG, it is a cool game that is all I can tell. However, I may also buy English version too if add additional features.

Zzunbao
Zzunbao

Wow! I was troubled that I might miss this one when I saw the game on some English version Jap-game sites since I don't understand Japanese well enough to know the whole plot, but now, am I delighted to see the possibility of localisation? Oh yeah!

phase4illini
phase4illini

Gameplay looks to be shaping up well, and I'm always a fan of new art styles (see: new PoP). So long as the gamplay's "action meter" doesn't turn this into another Future Tactics. As I have a PS3, I'm happy to see that some good looking RPGs are beginning to return to the system, because the the genre has been lacking so far.

Nexeus
Nexeus

ONLY PS3 BS!!!!! oh wait, Disgaea 3 will be out by then so Ill have a ps3. Silly me. Nice to see tactical RPGs going someplace new, I like it

Nineball2112
Nineball2112

Wow... I didn't think I'd care for the art-style of the game, but looking at the trailers for this game... it looks really cool. I'm not normally a fan of these types of games, but this one has me interested... PS3 is getting some great variety of games! There are going to be too many for me to even begin to play this year, but that's cool... I'll have a huge backlog of titles to choose from in the coming years.

FlashCharge
FlashCharge

Looking forward to seeing more on this game.

Takibi
Takibi

The battle sysytem sounds wicked awesome should be cool to try it

Sokol4ever
Sokol4ever

Ah November eh.. I'm a bit sad we have to wait that long, I'm really looking forward to it. Hopefully they have original Japanese voice acting with subtitles.

FallenAngel
FallenAngel

With this for my PS 3 and Operation Darkness for my Xbox 360, I think I'll be quite busy strategering in alt. history Europe later this year. Boy, there goes my PhD :D

newb16
newb16

Who here thinks this is a ps3 version of advance wars? Huh anybody?

SnowFarmer
SnowFarmer

This game is looking really good, especially when you see some of the gameplay videos that are up around the web. The 3rd person view for moving your troops is a nice addition to the SRPG genre, it brings the action more to life than moving around on a grid and then watching a battle animation.

jknight5422
jknight5422

Definitely looks like one of the best exclusive games for the PS3. However, the Xbox 360 is coming out with Atlus' Operation Darkness at the end of June & it's pretty much the same storyline: a WWII/fantasy-style game. Unlike this game, Operation Darkness is using a grid system for moving around. However, I've never seen a turn-based grid style game like this on an Xbox or Xbox 360 before. This game states it uses First/3rd Person to move the people, so they've gone an extra step to make it easier to move your troopers around. November is a long time to wait for it though since Operation Darkness is just around the corner. Who told? I'd also like to know who gave up the secret about doing a WWII / fantasy game since two Japanese gaming companies had the same idea at the same time. Somebody is blabbing secrets.

DesertClawX2X
DesertClawX2X

Darn it! I want this game so badly....it looks great.....all I have is a Wii....Drat.....

LatusItani
LatusItani

I cant wait for this game; its kinda like a second Kingdom hearts to me, the hype and all.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Interesting, It just keeps on getting.

GDCalibur
GDCalibur

Can't wait for this game. The gameplay seems really fun.

TrueProphecy22
TrueProphecy22

Last month's trailer still gives me goose bumps when I watch it. It looks fantastic! I cannot wait for this game! :)

nf1994
nf1994

This looks good and has an interesting story.

StanAce
StanAce

Will be looking forward to this game for sure, but I can't help but feel that there's a similarity to worms here xD

AzelKosMos
AzelKosMos

This game looks like Sega of old. When they made good RPG's like Skies of Arcadia, Panzer Dragoon Saga and Shining Force. I can't wait for this game!!!! :D :D :D

acidrain1976
acidrain1976

That screenshot looks FANTASTIC. So nice to see something original. Keep that up, fosho. :D

KingBahamut
KingBahamut

Those are some amazing graphics I hope more games follow that example

7loo
7loo

it doesnt look that great to me,but i could be picky about games, anyway its too early to judge

dutch777
dutch777

different concept, could be worth a good look

njean777
njean777

looks great cant wait to play this one

Rhen_Var
Rhen_Var

Well I'm glad it's exclusive at the very least. The art and gameplay are shaping up nicely ;)

Dark_Link142
Dark_Link142

Looks exciting. I really like the graphics and art direction. Plus, the blitz system seems to be pretty strategic and exciting.