Let me say this way ahead of the review: Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the best strategic RPG I have played this year and it is a complete package. I have not completely played Valkyria Chronicles 1, but this iteration upgraded a lot of the previous features from the first game. It still has its issues, but at least it’s not game breaking. Anyways, let’s get this show on the road!
The CANVAS Engine does it justice
The best part of Valkyria Chronicles 4 is its visuals. It’s immaculate and a huge improvement over that of Valkyria Chronicles 1. The CANVAS Engine makes it possible for the visuals to look like watercolor paintings moving in motion and with 3D models. Anime mixed with 3D effects never looked so beautiful up until this point. There are other games with equally beautiful scenery, but for me, this is where everything looks its best. Although I see some issues with the lip syncing, it adds an unusual charm to the game. And it’s not awkward looking at all as it’s like you’re watching an actual anime where characters show genuine emotion. And the special effects look spectacular. From the small lighting system with ragnite to the big booms of ragnite implosions, it looks fantastic.
For the visuals, I give it an almost perfect score of 9. Aside from minor flaws, everything else is perfect.
A combination of almost all genres
Another great aspect of Valkyria Chronicles 4 is its storytelling. It’s not too overdramatic and it displays a healthy amount of emotions. It’s a perfectly balanced story narrated in a way that every scene can easily be understood. This might not be a game for those who don’t enjoy long storytelling as scenes tend to drag due to the many different explanations of things you should learn. However, it does only talk about two arcs and it’s very straightforward: the story of Squad E’s journey and minor perspectives from the point of view of the villains. It’s not that scattered unlike a few games I know of—ones where you’re forced to take note of every detail because it’s ” a part of the story”. Sure, there are subplots which focus on individuals other than the main character, but at least they’re optional and can be skipped if you don’t want to do them. The intensity and the realism of the lives of the game’s characters are pretty deep though. If they die on the battlefield or because the story wills it, they don’t have any plot armor. THEY DIE, period. Now that’s something I like! There’s romance too, sprinkled just in tiny bits and even comedy, which is very prominent all throughout.
Overall, I like the story of Squad E’s journey from start to finish. It felt like I was there and I empathized with all of them. I’d like to rate this category a perfect 10.
Still one of the best strategic gameplay with some kinks
The BLiTZ System is still the best strategic and tactical gameplay that I have ever witnessed. It is a staple in the Valkyria Chronicles series (not you Valkyria Revolution) and I simply love how it is done. You fight in turns and moving from one place to another is done in real-time as there’s always a chance to surprise your enemies or you turning up dead from the bullets they fire. The idea is thrilling and makes every map very fun to play with, even if some of them can be pretty hard to solve/finish. For me, each map is a puzzle that needs to be pieced together and thank the gaming gods for including save and load features. That’s right, you can save scum. You’ll most likely resort to that because if not, this will be a very frustrating game to finish. Although you know the positions of your enemies after doing the deed of saving scumming, it’s not a fool-proof plan as victory is never guaranteed. It’s up to you on how to move your characters and evade the incoming assault from your enemies.
The classes have been changed as well since we are now focusing on the Federation side. There is no armored tech this time around and the engineer can do repairs and clear out mines for the squad. There is no split class anymore, just the elite versions of the base classes e.g. Scout to Scout Elite. I’m kind of conflicted of this change since I loved the split classes and even the changing of classes. This time around, characters will stick with their current class until the end. It’s kind of a bummer, but I think they did it to make it easier to develop and to balance the game out. I still wish the option to change was still there though.
The upgrades are still the same since Valkyria Chronicles 1. You spend experience to train your characters and gain money to purchase weapons, armor, tank parts and upgrades. The new addition to this game is a spoiler, but it was mentioned already in the trailers so maybe it’s okay: a ship. If you upgrade your ship, you get better… let’s just say, certain orders that you can use in the battlefield. It’s a pretty neat ability to have especially if you are in a bind.
I have some issues though: hitboxes. The problem becomes clear and really frustrating if you’re fighting certain types of enemies that you want off the battlefield. Imagine fighting a boss and you shoot with your sniper rifle expecting it to hit, only to end up missing because the target was somehow blocked by some object that was only inches away. I mean, come on, the sight was 100% accurate and I didn’t hit that? Frustrating! Hopefully, they fix this problem later on. I did finish the game even with the handicap, but that might not be good for players who wish to go through the experience.
Overall, the gameplay is really complex yet fun to tinker with. There are some small issues but hopefully, those will be resolved later on. I’m giving this a 9 out of 10.
Blends well with each situation
The music is well placed in Valkyria Chronicles 4, whether it’s during a relaxing time or in combat. There are no awkward moments and it always syncs with how the story is being told or when characters exchange dialogue in certain scenes. This game has one of the best music tracks I have heard in the series. Although, it’s clear that some of them were recycled from previous installments such as that from Valkyria Chronicles 1.
A surprising aspect would be the English dubbing. Japanese dubs are always superb and show emotions even for minor scenes. The English version is superbly done to my surprise since, at least in my experience, I’ve always had the displeasure of hearing some of the worst English voice acting in many games. The English voice actors did a superb job as they were able to display a good amount of emotion to the characters. That’s always a big plus in my book.
With great English voice acting and a superb soundtrack, I’m giving this aspect a perfect 10.
Easy to grind and post-game is full of bonuses
Another major improvement you’ll find in Valkyria Chronicles 4 is that it’s easier to grind for money, experience, and squadmate bonding. In previous titles, the story maps are locked out and can only be accessed after the game is done. But here, you can still access the maps if you want to grind in a particular area repeatedly. There are skirmish maps of course, but there are others which offer larger areas, more things to do and offers more experience and cash. Another big plus for me.
Post-game offers a lot of bonuses for fans of the series who want to play Valkyria Chronicles 4 again and again. There are secret characters to unlock, new weapons to try, new uniforms to wear, post-game DLCs to purchase, a true ending and so much more. That’s enough content to keep me playing for at least an entire year.
Another perfect 10 for replayability. This is a game worth playing over and over even if you’ve already finished it.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is the best RPG for me this year. I know it won’t exactly be much in terms of competition to other titles out there (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Marvel’s Spider-Man), but in my heart, this is the game to play until I squeeze everything out of it. Thank you SEGA and I hope for more sequels that are equally good or better. Just please, no more “experiments” again. Alright?
Disclosure: This review is based on a review code provided by SEGA. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.