A long time ago, as many as ten years ago, the tactical RPG Valkyria Chronicles was released on PS3. And she was beautiful. Beautiful graphics, unique pencil and watercolor style, a completely new approach to battles, an amazing balance of dynamics and tactics. They let down only a completely anime and naive scenario and balance problems. However, the sequels to Valkyria Chronicles bypassed the big consoles and came out even more controversial. So much so that now, ten years later, it remains to sincerely rejoice at the fourth part, which actually completely copies the first.
They are both dedicated to the same war - the events of Valkyria Chronicles unfold in fictional Europe, where the Democratic Federation and the dictatorial Eastern European Empire (geographically - Russia, in fashion and names - Germany) clashed with each other. The first part was devoted to how the militia from a small country located between two giants (analogous, for example, Lithuania), repulsed the imperial invasion. The fourth - to the Federation squad, which first fights on the front line, and then is transferred to a special mission designed to end the war.
The script for Valkyria Chronicles 4 is pleasantly surprising at first: in comparison with the first part, it does not hit the vulgar melodramatic and avoids completely banal moves. If in VC1 there was a lot of whining about the plight of the darksen nation, which is humiliated in an evil empire (obviously, what is the reference here), then in VC4 the darksen is the main bully and the soul (but not the brain) of the squad, and about its origin it is plainly and does not go. The main backbone of the heroes is childhood friends, and this is also a big plus: every now and then they recall old stories, reflect, grow above themselves. Even the relationship that usually fails in anime games turned out to be quite good here.
The charismatic empire, who acts as the enemy of the heroes for most of the game, pleases also: he is a real rebel with a heavy past and a big heart, he would fit into the protagonists! Alas, in the second half of the game, he is overshadowed by villains, whose motivations and characters are all very commonplace, and Valkyries, a sort of sorceress in this realistic setting, with whom the game inevitably comes into hysterical attempts to put pressure on emotions. With the plot as a whole, alas, it did not work either.
Although the number of soldiers in the detachment is estimated at dozens, six people participate in the plot scenes. The rest, as a rule, have side stories (one for three) that reveal them more closely, but they are not immune to death on the battlefield.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 would not be a Japanese game if it did not present a variety of vivid archetypes of characters - moreover, here personality traits turn into combat perks.
For example, the characteristics of an introvert may decrease if he is surrounded by associates, but as soon as he runs past a lawn with flowers in solitude, he will immediately perk up. Completing side quests helps the participating characters overcome their weaknesses and turn them into their strengths!
Fights in Valkyria Chronicles are turn-based, but the course of each individual unit takes place in real time. It works like this: you see a pencil plan of the area, select the icon of the desired unit on it - and be transported to it, controlling it from a third-person view. As long as the unit is under your control, time passes, and if enemies see it, they will shoot at it.
To get close to the enemy, melee units - for example, stormtroopers - need to use roundabouts, crawl in the grass that hides them, or charge forward while the enemy is reloading.
Once per turn, a unit can perform an action - attack or heal. While you are aiming, time stops - this allows you to aim at the head of the enemy for critical damage. However, if the unit sits behind cover, then it gives him immunity from crits.
In your phase, your task, as a rule, is to kill more enemies (preferably with one attack - the unbeaten counterattack), clear the necessary territory, move forward, if possible capture the camps where you can call for help (the opponent can do this too). For one unit, you can make as many moves as you like (but with subsequent moves he will get more and more tired, and movement will be difficult for him). In VC1, the scouts were prohibitively cooler than the rest: they ran through half a map, and with the dodge buff, enemy bullets did not really hit them. Since most of the missions in VC1 were won by capturing the camps, the scout rush could go through a significant part of the game.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is trying to improve the balance a little: here the scouts are less evasive, and the missions are varied, and other classes (except for the unfortunate engineers, they are completely out of work) compensate for the poor mobility with impressive destructive power. Nevertheless, the runners still have an important advantage: the ability, which appeared in VC4, once per phase, to take two more partners under his wing and drag them along for free allows scouts to move less agile units over great distances. But there is still an armored personnel carrier that protects passengers from enemy fire!
In TRPG, movement still plays a critical role, and most tactical decisions in Valkyria Chronicles 4 will be tied to lightning-fast troop movements. Many battles can be finished with a blitzkrieg in just 1-2 phases!
The not particularly high difficulty of the game (with the exception of a couple of missions) ensures that most of the tactical puzzles here (and this is how battles are perceived here) have many different solutions. However, it can also upset fans of more serious tactical tests - after all, optional battles in Valkyria Chronicles 4 are even simpler than plot ones. Alas, and those few missions that can be called difficult are mainly because of the enemy Valkyrie, which is simply inconvenient to fight. Some of the storyline battles are heavily scripted, and the sudden appearance of enemies right under your nose is not pleasant. In others, everything goes like clockwork, if you know the "zest" of the battle, and everything does not go well, if it has not yet been possible to guess - in other words, tactics have to be groped by trial and error.
Leveling up in Valkyria Chronicles 4 is quite linear: the experience gained for victories can be "poured" into the development of entire classes, which raises the characteristics of all units related to them. Having raised ten levels, the class becomes "elite": attack aircraft, for example, get access to the most powerful flamethrowers. Also, pumping unlocks new qualities of characters and allows the main character to use new orders in battle (as a rule, buffs). In battles, you can also earn money - they go to the development of equipment. In the case of a weapon, you can do this in several directions - for example, to bake in high accuracy, in armor-piercing, or in maximum damage to enemy soldiers. From killed unique opponents, you can loot their equipment, which, in terms of characteristics, is steeper than the squad's own developments.
The most obvious problem with Valkyria Chronicles 4, and at the same time its most obvious advantage, is that it practically does not differ from the first part. Yes, another class has appeared, yes, the balance has become better, and the missions are more varied, but for the most part everything is the same. The game even starts right away with a combat mission, as if expecting that we have already learned VC1 and are ready for new, cooler feats.
Therefore, it is difficult to evaluate. On the one hand, how can you praise a 10-year-old copy of a game that did not include elements from subsequent parts and almost did not grow in terms of gameplay? On the other hand, is it possible to blame the heiress of the game for this completely unique and in many respects unsurpassed? Low difficulty - good or bad? Is the unpredictability of fights really good, stemming from rules suddenly changing on the go and pianos jumping out of bushes? Depending on your answers to these questions, a whole point can be subtracted from this score.