Review – Valkyria Chronicles 3

That’s what you call “coming after the war”. I finished Valkyria Chronicles 3 one year ago, so this is a bit late, but as Sega’s recent troubles further jeopardizes the western localization, it’s natural that VC3 would make the news again.

Those who’ve been turned off by the story of Valkyria Chronicles 2 (which was far from bad though) can be reassured (or not, since they will need to read Japanese). Valkyria Chronicles 3 comes as close as possible to the glorious first episode in terms of storyline. The concept of rival 遊撃隊 (which could be translated as search and destroy units) is quite appealing to begin with, but VC3 also features many deep and meaningful war-related subjects (betrayal, conspiracy, pursuit of freedom, war crimes, war censorship, etc). The characters (on both sides) are excellent and make the game emotionally strong. The relation between Kurt, Riela and Imca are extremely touching (I nearly cried, like in VC1) and you actually end up feeling sympathy for Dahau despite him being the enemy. Like in VC2, every character has his personal sub-scenario (even the secondary ones), which helps thicken the plot.

VC3 introduces many changes in gameplay. The most important one being the damage buff granted to your enemies. You can’t rush to the enemy base with a recon like it was possible in VC2 (and that was ridiculous). The gameplay becomes more coherent and the game harder, without stupid difficulty spikes like in VC2. While easy at first, it becomes progressively harder and then nightmarish in the second half, which makes it even more unforgettable. Another good idea is the absolute freedom you have to change classes. You don’t want Riela to be a recon? Then make her a sniper or whichever class you see fit, it’s your decision (and you can keep the passive abilities from other classes). The tank also changes a lot : you have more customization possibilities than ever (camos, canons, devices, etc), its anti-infantry capabilities have been enhanced since VC2 and it now takes 1CP however heavy the armor is. While I do think that 3CP per turn was stupid, 1CP seems super-cheap for the heavy tank (though the limited mobility makes up for that). In the end, I think VC1 was right with 2CP per turn. Fallen allies now can be redeployed almost immediately, while they were hospitalized for a long time in VC2. I’ve thought very hard on that, but again I think VC1 was right. However cruel it may be, people die in war, then so should your characters, and it makes it only more satisfying and epic when you succeed in protecting or saving them. You can now have more than 6 characters in the same mission (up to 9 if I remember well), which is a pleasant improvement given that I always choose 2 or 3 snipers. Last addition of VC3, special attacks are not as deadly as they look (especially the Valkyria Spear, which doesn’t OHK), but are nevertheless interesting strategic elements. Beyond all that, Valkyria Chronicles 3 is as addictive as ever.

Graphically speaking, VC3 is similar to VC2, which means very fine on PSP standards. The soundtrack is also in line with the series, with some really good tracks (Calamity Raven’s theme is my favorite, like the Empire’s and Garsenal’s were). The game is insanely long : it took me 130h to complete including all the side missions and DLCs, and I still have new game + elements to enjoy, such as Riela’s scenario (I chose Imca’s part in the first run).

Let’s finish with a thorny subject : DLC. Free in VC2, you now have to pay the punitively high amount of 600 yens for an additional scenario (and a character). It’s rather hard to swallow, especially when you know that Sega eventually ended up in the red. However, I can’t deny I was extremely happy with those. The additional missions are extremely well-thought and give some solid challenge. And, let’s be honest, who would say no to Selvaria, Yeager, Alicia or even Audrey? There’s even an mission that allows you to play as Calamity Raven!

Valkyria Chronicles 3 is one of the best games available (eh… actually not) on PSP. It is my favorite by the way, and as I’m writing those lines the urge to purchase the Extra Edition on my Vita is burning from inside me. But it’s not just that. Valkyria Chronicles 3 is, I think, exactly the game Valkyria Chronicles fans were expecting, which makes even more tragic and unbearable the fact that they might never enjoy it. 

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