Valkyria Chronicles is a Japanese RPG. But instead of turn-based, it’s a tactical RPG and heavily based in rudimentary first person shooter setups. And the cel shading looks astonishing. Vega has played tactical RPGs for a long time, but Chet has only played Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
The long awaited fourth installment in a fan favorite series has finally arrived. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Sega. And Sega has been on quite a roll this year releasing the games fans want. Released on September 2018 on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC, Valkyria Chronicles 4 delivers on the promise of continuing a war story. It’s been a long time coming, so the question is does Valkyria Chronicles 4 meet the expectations of the people? Or has the ship of greatness it was long sailed?
Cartoon graphics are no excuse for characters breaking. In fact, cartoon graphics should theoretically bring this issue to a major minimum. Regardless Valkyria Chronicles 4 suffers pretty often from this issue. The vibrancy of the playing field and landscaping quickly become muddied by mixing of terrains. In some areas the distinction between grass and dirt is beautiful in other areas it’s awful. Characters cut into environments so often that it wouldn’t be hard to believe that was an intentional thing. With all that said Valkyria Chronicles cartoon style is absolutely fun to look at. It’s hard not to enjoy the way the development team at Sega brings the 2D manga look to a 3D realm. It’s a constant battle between love and hate which more often falls in the love category. Unless you hate manga/anime.
Although the presentation can be quite annoying, the story is worth the trouble. Valkyria Chronicles 4 continues the story of the Imperials vs the Federation in a war started over the ownership of Ragnite. On the surface it is a very basic premise. The thing that drives the story is the way it is told through the experiences of childhood friends, separated for various reasons, coming together as adults in the military. The intensity grows as the stories of what separated them as children continue to unfold. Each interaction between the four lead protagonist gives another insight into falling outs and reconciliations. These little moments make every painful bit of broken up cinematic worth while. Seriously, most of these cutscenes should have been bundled together way better.
Once again, a rock solid audio performance. Every member of the cast present realistic tones that truly represent the emotions in the words. It is very easy to fall in love with the personalities of each character, to the point where watching them die in battle really hurts. The cell-shaded manga art style is coupled together excellently with the Saturday morning cartoon sound effects. Gunfire, explosions, footsteps, and motion all feel perfectly in place to feel threatening yet humorous. The only time the audio isn’t a good time is when the progression system shows what’s been unlocked or traversing the menus. These are probably the most annoying sounds of this console generation. Small criticism against what the rest of the audio delivers, but a criticism none the less.
Tried and true mechanics of tactical RPG’s are hard to change, but in no way is that bad. Valkyria Chronicles does manage to do a few things differently from it’s predecessors however. The first major change comes in the ‘let’s up the challenge” style. This is the first installment that allows units, on both friendly and enemy, to attack when it’s not their turn. This mean positioning characters after an offensive and navigating the field are even more critical then ever. Simply put, if the unit is within range it will be attacked by other units out of turn. This brings the level of strategy necessary to an even higher level. The second major update is the addition of the new Grenadier class. The Grenadier can launch grenades significantly far and do a significant amount of damage at the same time.
Fans of tactical RPG’s will find these new inclusions incredibly fun, challenging, and strategy altering for sure. However, the lack of an autosave feature is still a major downfall. Very few things exist as infuriating as completing an hour and a half long mission just to have to repeat it. Part user error, part design flaw, but completely annoying.
There is something undeniably satisfying about playing games where the task is to outwit the enemy. This innate desire to be more intelligent than everyone else becomes even more apparent while navigating the battlefield. Valkyria Chronicles 4 does an excellent job of pacing the challenge, so every battle remains fun. Things get progressively harder, but Squad E gets equally better. By never forcing the player to feel unmatched in power, the focus remains on being more strategic. The humorous banter between characters and the graphic novel visuals further the entertainment. Seriously, how could anyone not hate to love Raz’s personality? Even with his frequent bone head decisions.
The game that long time fans of the series patiently waited for has arrived. Valkyria Chronicles 4 delivers exactly what the fans wanted. Could it use a little more to make things a tad bit more exciting? Possibly, regardless the game delivers. It does everything right that Valkyria Revolution did wrong without losing the few things Revolution did well. Fans of strategic RPG’s can comfortably place this amazing game alongside XCOM and Fire Emblem. As well as past games in the series. Valkyria Chronicles 4 tells a great story with fun gameplay nestled beside it.
Stabilizers? Check. Laser Canons? Check. Frequency Blade? Probably not what its called but check. Let’s start f*cking sh*t up baby.
I’m in the cockpit of the all powerful orbital frame Jehuty and even though they keep calling me Dingo, Vega is ready to party. First objective is to get this gate open so I can get in there and see what the big hype over this other orbital frame is. I have two panels, obviously super far away from each other, and that should set things straight. Alright, let’s get to it.
Ok, alright cool, let’s try that again. This time I’m gonna go for the one on the left first.
As I proceed to destroy these robots I start to wonder “Who the hell is piloting the enemy machines?” Eh, none of my business. Keep slashing and destroying this endless supply of machine enemies. I finally arrive at the panel and with an over charged spirit bomb (it’s not really a spirit bomb but dammit thats what it looks like) I destroy it. Now I gotta travel all the way to the other side of the gate. Let me save real quick in case something goes wrong. Playing this from a first person perspective is way harder than playing in third person. And the lock on system still doesn’t work properly.
On to the other side. Alright here we go, not doing to bad.
What the f*ck! Why doesn’t this damn game lock on to the closest enemy instead of whatever f*cking random enemy it wants. Wait. Are you kidding me! It’s making me start over and I gotta clear the first panel again. Aahhh!
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is the indirect sequel to the critically acclaimed first entry which released for the Nintendo Wii. Released on December 1, 2017 Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was developed by Monolith Software and published by the good folks over at Nintendo. Featuring an entirely new cast and world to explore, the action RPG takes place in a universe where the world is an endless ocean of clouds and civilizations live on the backs of colossal titans. Does this game have what it takes to stand alongside other great Action RPGs released this year?
[Reviewed entirely in handheld mode only.]
Right out the gate, Xenoblade Chronicles looks like a Wii U game ported to Switch. Standing alongside the current generation of consoles it’s very clear that the Switch was never intended to perform at the scale of the competitive boxes. With that said, it is very easy to give a pass on the intensity of the graphics, especially because the game never felt like it was designed to be photorealistic. There are some pretty grandiose moments that are let down by the noticeable pixelation on screen. The environments look vibrant and colorful but also lack the necessary depth to bring the desire to explore out. A lot of grassy plains, straw huts, and gray scale mountains make up the majority of the settings. The cloud sea looks beautifully white in some instances and then super choppy in others. It’s easy to chalk up as a mobile game and compare it to others in that category, which is part of what makes Switch games hard to classify, but even then it isn’t doing anything mind blowing with its visuals. Even Character design seems very cliche and basic. There isn’t anything inherently bad about the graphics but there isn’t anything great either. It’s just acceptable. Rather, expected graphic performance at this point.
Xenoblade Chronicles is heavily driven by a story based in mystery surrounding the world inhabited by the characters. Questions seem to never stop popping up, which at first is very exciting. As the progression continues, very rarely do they seem to tie up the story it began. The game continues to throw interesting plot details in the mix, but 18hours in most of those elements haven’t been addressed. The concept of the cloud sea was hands down the most interesting part of the experience to that point, but even that mystery seemed to become a back story. Ultimately, Xenoblade felt like a collection of short background stories that never really turned to much. It’s very possible all the plot lines come to a concrete and hopefully good ending, however 15hours with little to know threads arriving at an impactful end isn’t very good.
After 5 minutes of playing, the game was on mute. Nothing more to say. MUTE. This game is preferable without sound on this portable console.
The combat system was absolutely terrible and unexciting. The end. However let’s look at it a little further. For some awful reason the battle system is automatic. Just get close to the enemy that’s being targeted and the character fires away building up a special meter that’s activated by pressing one of the face buttons. But wait, every special move is a quick time event that determines how much damage you do. Seriously! That’s how it works. Awful. The rest of the game plays like any standard rpg. All of those elements are executed perfectly but good lord was the combat terrible. It was pretty cool to be able to unlock new blades, which are Pokémon/Persona like battle buddies, by finding cores in the field or after beating monsters. There were also a lot of crafting and item menus and mechanics to get a grasp of, so much so that 18hours definitely felt like just scratching the surface. The one thing that’s definite, the combat system was really bad. Did we go over that yet?
Crazy thing about this whole experience: it was a ton of fun. There was nothing that really stood out to explain what made the game fun, but it was absolutely a challenge to put the game down. Completing side quest and main quest just felt like a daily task that could really be enjoyed. There isn’t really much to help justify how much fun playing the game was despite all its flaws. Perhaps it was the simplicity of drop in drop out or maybe the convenience of playing anytime any place, either way there was something inexplicable about the way Xenoblade Chronicles called for my attention. This will probably go down as the worst paragraph ever written in a review, but there are no words to use to explain why this game was so fun it was hard to put down. Best bet? Blame the plot.
Xenoblade Chronicles has this magical hook that makes it inexplicably hard to put down. For some reason, despite all of its flaws, it just keeps pulling you back to play more and more each time. With bad combat, terrible audio, mediocre visuals, and a series of plots that fly around with no direction the expectation would be to stop playing pretty fast. Truthfully though, the urge to keep playing the game still creeps up here and there. Diehard Nintendo fans will never let this review stand but unfortunately Xenoblade Chronicles just isn’t a good game.