Shock Value: Valkyria Chronicles
[Shock Value is a weekly segment which runs down inexpensive titles that are more than worth the money spent.]
- Title: Valkyria Chronicles
- Developer: Sega
- Publisher: Sega
- Genre: StrategyRPG
- Release: November 2008
- Platform: PS3
- Pricing: New: $20, Used: Approx. $15
Valkyria Chronicles is just one of those titles that come along once in a while that exude charm, remain interesting throughout and are a joy to watch and play. It was released for the PS3 in the fall of 2008, amidst a very packed fall gaming season. It didn’t go over too well at launch, but picked up a lot of steam once the price dropped and people finally caught on to how awesome it is. Critics praised the game and heralded it as one of the best RPGs this generation – and I believe it still remains that way today, two years later.
You follow the story of the small nation of Gallia as they face off against an Empire bent on domination. Focusing on a small group of soldiers, the story is as much personable as it is extraordinary in nature. It’s very easy to connect with the two main characters – Welken and Alecia – because they seem so human and down to earth, both coming from humble beginnings and forced to fight in a war that could determine the fate of their friends, family and homeland. The stakes are high, but the story keeps things level-headed and relatable.
The visuals are really what stand out here, especially initially. The “CANVAS” engine creates a beautiful “watercolor”-like animations and artwork are simply a joy to behold in motion as you play through the game.
Strategy RPG fans are typically presented with an isometric, top-down view of the grid-laden battlefield. What is unique about Valkyria Chronicles is it keeps all the elements that make interesting SRPGs, but completely change the way the game is played. It kept the strategic placing of your units, but introduced more of a third-person experience which, in many ways, acts like a shooter at times – headshots and all. In a way, this title has something for just about everyone – it mixes elements of RPGs, visual novels, 3rd person action and shooter games, as well as FPS elements. This all adds up to a very unique gaming experience, which is undoubtedly why it has received such high marks to this day.
Anyone looking for a great budget title for the PS3 should absolutely not miss Valkyria Chronicles. If this game isn’t in your library, you need to find a way to get it there as soon as possible.