One and Done is a series where I play games from my Steam backlog for roughly 1-2 hours and give a quick review of how it went, along with a “score” of how likely I am to continue the game.
Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4 (forthcoming)
Release Date: November 4, 2008
Overall Summary: Unique setting and art style, paired with a fun strategic combat system makes for an engaging experience
In light of the recent reveal that Valkyria Chronicles will be released on PS4, along with a prequel in the works, I decided to finally boot up the PC version of the game. Valkyria has been a game I picked up in a Steam sale with the intention to get around to it, but it constantly got pushed to the back of the line in the backlog. I’m glad that I pulled it out for this series, because I really enjoyed what it gave in the first hour and a half.
Valkyria Chronicles is a tactical role-playing game – with each “mission” a chess-like set piece. The twist is that instead of the typical square-grid set-up used in the genre, VC utilizes a points bar system, where each unit has an action bar that is depleted as you control their actions. That means you switch from unit to unit, moving them as their meter depletes, and finish with some action, such as attacking. Each unit has a unique class, such as Engineer, Scout, or Sniper. The classes give the units special abilities, and specialize for certain tasks. This presents my first critcism of the game – the class changing/building is not as deep as similar games in the genre. Crafting unique units is normally a cornerstone of long tactical RPG campaigns, and the system in VC is lacking.
The story explores a strange alternate World War II-era struggle, with pseudo-European nations engaging in a massive conflict. While only playing for a short time does not give a deep look at the story, the little I did encounter oozed with anime-tropes with the classic young protagonist tasked with saving the world. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing – but it certainly will irk some players.
The story is complimented by the anime art style (which is a bit close to cellshaded), which I found appealing. When tanks buzz by, they are accompanied by trailing onomatopoeias (ie. Bzzzz, Grrrrr, Vrrrrooom). Cut scenes punctuate the missions, with both static images with dialogue, along with moving animation and video. Again, I didn’t get too far, but it managed to catch my attention and successfully set the scene for each upcoming mission.
The gameplay itself melds the classic tropes of strategy tactical games, along with modern accommodation and unique twists. As mentioned, the game structures each mission in a set piece fashion, but allows for more “action” through the action bar. This sets the meter for movement, but also gives the player the ability to aim and take the shots as opposed to a simple numbers calculation. My senses tell me that this system leaves it open to potential abuse, with Scouts or other high movement units able to quickly seize objectives. But then again, what sRPG or tRPG doesn’t allow for a little abuse? It’s part of the fun. I played on PC, and quickly moved to my Xbox controller. Using keyboard was difficult and awkward, with the game obviously catered to its console roots.
Chance of continuing: 90%
+Unique tactical combat system
+Strong visual style
-Best to avoid keyboard + mouse