I love this game so much that I have written about it several times on Blistered Thumbs, shouted about it on podcasts, recommended it to nigh on every customer when I worked in a game shop, and badgered Taylor so much he picked it to open his superb Shinkara series.
Valkyria Chronicles is simply one of the greatest titles on PS3, without a doubt. Taking the JRPG tactics formula prevalent in titles such as Disgaea and Fire Emblem, and redesigning it into a wholly unique real-time system is utterly inspired. To follow the comparison to Fire Emblem, Valkyria Chronicles also went to lengths to give personalities to even the most mundane solider, creating a dynamic cast that you genuinely cared about.
In most games when a solider goes down, it’s a mild inconvenience, but in Valkyria Chronicles, it inspires elaborate rescue plans to reform your army. I would give up on clear chances to cut a swath through the enemy lines, giving up an hour’s worth of tactical maneuvering, just to make sure medical assistance reached my troopers. With Welkin, the narrative commander hidden within a faceless tank, it allowed players to really take ownership of their squadron and become invested in its continued existence.
Yet, even while you’re establishing your own link with the cast, the adventures and tales of Welkin and Squad 7 are surprisingly moving. Based in what is totally not a fantastic take on Europe during World War II, the world and people of this glorious title captured my attention for hours on end. I personal felt heartbreak equal to that of the famous passing of Aeris Gainsbourgh while playing through this title, perhaps even equal to that of the lesser known tragic moment in Suikoden 2. Japanese games make me sad.
Some who aren’t so attuned to the nuances of Japanese anime may find the story lacks pace, presenting the whole narrative through a very linear sequence of events, but none can deny the beauty of the presentation.
Several stunning anime-like titles have been released since Valkyria Chronicles, like Asura’s Wrath and the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series, but neither of these titles even comes close to the spectacular visual design of VC. Honestly, the install screen which treats PS3 owners to a still from the game being drawn in front of their eyes is absolutely breathtaking.
The whole package is rounded off with a real sense of accomplishment that is gained upon completion of even a single mission. The missions can take a serious amount of effort and forward thinking, and even then a mistake or piece of bad luck can seriously set you back. Thankfully though, the superb control scheme and mechanics rarely make these losses feel unfair. As the previously listed Demon’s Souls proved, it’s often the toughest of times that bring out the greatest rewards.
The PS3 doesn’t just have titles worthy of a 25-in-25 list, but also is home to a couple of my favorite titles of all time; a list, I assure you, it is hard to get a place upon. Yet, Valkyria Chronicles found itself a place in my heart with very little resistance. It is truly a must-have for any PlayStation 3 owner.
You can find more articles in our 25-in-25 series over here, and stayed tuned tomorrow for another look at a great PS3 title!