Valkyria Chronicles 4 (Switch) – War, but not as you know it

What better way to kick off the new year than with World War II, anime-style. Or at least, with a game that starts off 110% anime. Valkyria Chronicles 4’s story gets pretty dark by the end but not without shrapnel chunks of teen banter, mishaps and romancing along the way. As the main character, Claude states at one point: “It was a battlefield… but it was also where we grew up.” That makes it sound quite sweet actually! Indeed, there are plenty of growing pains and hormones to be found in this war game, certainly moreso than the original Valkyria Chronicles.

What follows here is my scrapbook of wartime atrocities from my time with Squad E:

As tonally absurd as much of VC4 is, I enjoyed my time with it. Yes, it’s too wordy for its own good, and the game could’ve benefited from a larger cast of main characters. The plot kept my interest most of the time with some genuinely affecting moments but it could’ve been better overall. There are some confusing parts when the heroes act like villains that do make sense eventually but feel jarring at the time.

The gameplay is very similar to the excellent original Valkryia Chronicles – that is to say lots of strategy RPG goodness crossed with third person action. Resembling the original is no bad thing although there are some minor gripes I could make. (For example: was it really necessary for the foppish mechanic to say one of three identical voiced lines of dialogue every single time you upgrade a weapon?! His recurring “whoa” is enough to traumatise any would-be war recruit.) VC4 is also longer and tougher than the original, so I ended up playing on Easy difficulty most of the time. The lower difficulty was balanced by the fact that I didn’t do any grinding.

Uh oh, got to get out of here sharpish…

Overall this is a perfectly fine sequel that adds a few new wrinkles without doing much different. If really pressed I’d probably recommend playing the original game over this fourth entry (unfortunately I can’t speak to the PSP-exclusive VC2 and 3), just because I like story/characters more in the first game. But to be honest there’s hardly a single bullet between them, quality-wise. Then again making good judgments in the middle of a great battle with explosive hormones flying every which way is a rare skill.

Oh crap…

Time is short so only one more thing before I evacuate. VC4 has some weird “pro-bullying” messaging: I’ve never met such a mealy-mouthed protagonist before. At one point “Scaredy-Claude”, as he is nicknamed, thanks a member of his squad for beating him up. This is no ordinary tussle either, as Scaredy-Claude is hospitalised for several weeks… yeah. That’s messed up.

So, this is the end of the line. Squad E – retreat!

2 comments

  1. moresleepneeded

    I have not played this game, but it seems interesting. The backgrounds seem to be a successful translation of Second World War-era European locations into an anime style, but the style and dress of the characters does not resemble the fashion at the time. It also seems odd to use the Second World War as a coming of age story, particularly as I associate anime coming-of-age films with chirpy characters, bright colours and fantastical settings. I do like that the story successfully creates moving moments and the heroes having to act as villains. The hero thanking his aggressors for attacking him does seem very strange.
    Was the game very difficult? Why do the heroes act as villains? What is Raz referring to when he mentions the women’s having “their lumps to keep ’em warm”?

    • veryverygaming

      It is pretty challenging. Thankfully you can save mid-battle pretty painlessly so it’s not hard to undo mistakes. Also Easy mode does make it quite a smooth ride, I rarely had to restart battles and didn’t need to grind. On the story front, I wish I could explain it better. The villainous part is when our squad are tasked with firing a nuclear weapon on a city, and they seem totally fine with it! It’s very ambitious to transition from goofy high school drama to a serious debate on the morality of nuclear weapons – not that it was terrible, but there were a number of jarring moments that could have been handled better.

      As for Raz’s statement there… well I can’t believe I googled it, but ‘lady lumps’ will take you to that god-awful Black Eyed Peas song from some years ago, My Humps.

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