Valkyria Chronicles 4 Review

Developed by Sega SC3
Published by Sega
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch (also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC)

With Valkyria Chronicles 4 Sega returns the franchise to console platforms. They’ve ditched many of the PlayStation Portable mechanics from Valkyria Chronicles 2 and Valkyria Chronicles 3 and instead focused on what made the original a cult classic.

Set in a fantasy world with WWII as the inspiration for this theater of war, we follow the story of Squad E. Their main goal is to disrupt the enemy with a Hail Mary mission that takes our characters directly into enemy territory. This is a classic setting for the franchise and is still an interesting and refreshing take on WWII. Elements of fantasy with good character development help the setting to grow beyond that of just another war game. As the game progresses, we learn the history of these characters along with their motivations, strengths, and even weaknesses. These elements are implemented into actual gameplay where the game truly shines.

The gameplay for Valkyria Chronicles 4 retains the memorable experience from the last 3 games. It’s still as fun as ever because of the many different maps that provide an element of puzzle solving with adaptability. Every mission starts with choosing which members are deployed. Once picked, the mission starts with a clear objective for every mission. Two aspects of the gameplay pop up once the mission begins. One is the tactical map where the player can see where everyone is including enemies in plain sight. Then the player can control a unit of their choosing and move freely into position. At its core, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a tactical role-playing game where the player must choose where their soldiers go and who to attack. The danger of losing a soldier always lingers in the air if playing too reckless.

However, this is exactly why it is so fun to play Valkyria Chronicles 4. As said, every mission plays out differently. The mission objective is clear but there is usually a curveball thrown at the players. This forces them to adapt to the current situation which is often stressful position. My favorite aspect of these games is how free the soldiers movements are. Every unit can move into almost any area of the map. Compared to other tactile games like XCOM 2 where the map is in tiles, it is always refreshing to play a Valkyria Chronicles game where this isn’t the case. A last solid addition to the game is the new grenadier class. This class opens up new options on the battlefield. Wielding a mortar, this new class sheds new light on the tried and true gameplay we’ve come to expect.

When the battles are over, the role-playing portion comes into play. The experience points the player earn through missions serve as currency. The player can choose to upgrade class types to make them stronger or to unlock a new ability during the battles. There is the option to upgrade your equipment as well. Choosing what to upgrade is fun and makes for interesting encounters since you never know what the next mission may need. The best part is that I never felt like I was hitting a wall when it came to upgrades. I was always able to get through a mission.

The only downfall with the gameplay is the battles can drag on if played too conservatively. It feels like the game doesn’t reward playing it safe tactics as each mission has a turn limit. The turn limit is often long but having battles last even half of the limit makes it feel like the battles are too slow. I then switched to a more aggressive style and found the battles to be much more enjoyable.

The game’s art direction is stunning and beautiful. The hand drawn portraits are always a treat to look at and the in game graphics are just as good. Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s  colorful, vibrant world that is a treat to experience. What I enjoyed was how this art direction sometimes is juxtaposed to the events going on in the game. What the player gets is a great use of color to portray something ominous going on. While the gameplay is solid with beautiful graphics, the story falls short.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 falls into the trap of having too many clichés. Early in the game, we know what the true main objective is. It’s clear cut, however the game does take a while to pick up. There is also weird cinematic moments that feel like they hurt the narrative sometimes rather than move the characters forward.

Overall, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a solid tactical role-playing game with interesting characters and fun gameplay to support the hours one will spend on the game. With aesthetically pleasing visuals and a good musical score to the game, it is a great game to play since there is no need to play the previous games to pick this up. Valkyria Chronicles 4 acts like a stand alone title so anyone can choose it to be their introduction to the franchise.