An alternative view on Valkyria Chronicles
Charm is a dangerous thing. Some of the worst, most evil people in the history of the world have been charming individuals. Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Hirohito, Adolf Hitler, King Leopold II of Belgium, Satan – they’re all charming devils, one of them quite literally. And speaking of Hitler, isn’t turning one of the most horrific and tragic wars of all time into a twee little anime story about the reds fighting the blues a bit of a weird thing to do? Yes it is, but if you’re Valkyria Chronicles you can get away with it because of your charm.
Ooh look, it’s like a water colour and everyone’s so nice and friendly to each other. Oh, and it’s told through a story book. Bless. Somehow, the above aesthetic qualities had people believing that Valkyria Chronicles was some sort of massive innovator. But it’s not. Underneath the paint or pastel or crayon or whatever it’s supposed to be, this is just like any other Japanese turn-based strategy RPG. The one difference is that you don’t move your characters on a grid, but even that is hardly a huge leap forward. It shouldn’t be, anyway.
It’s not a blend of real-time and turn-based gameplay. Neither is it a blend of strategy game, RPG and third-person shooter. The game pauses when you aim, for crying out loud. You’re not shooting, you are choosing where to aim. That’s an ancient turn-based mechanic. Now put your pants back on and calm down.
Only the movement is real-time and what’s really annoying is that it’s real-time even if you don’t want to move. If you want to stay put and shoot you have to be super fast on the aim button otherwise nearby enemies on will shoot you dead before you’ve even had your turn. And much of the time we don’t want to move because the movement control is really unwieldy. You can’t even turn on the spot properly. Instead you’re forced to run in a little circle hoping your character will end up pointing the right way before you run out of AP and end up frozen on the spot. The wrong spot. A spot where you’re going to get shot.
And the cover system’s rubbish too. You can only take cover behind set objects (sandbags mostly), and you can’t duck unless you’re taking cover so it’s impossible to order your troops to do something potentially life-saving like hiding behind a large crate. It’s not sandbags sir, does not compute.
It’s all so slow, which makes it even more upsetting when you make one small mistake after being on the same mission for 2 hours and have to start all over again. And heaven forbid you forgot to save it immediately before the mission, and so have to load up half a dozen cut-scenes just so you can skip them just to get back to the beginning of the mission, never mind where you were when it all went wrong.
Oh, but it’s so charming… sod off.