Sunday, July 05, 2015

Valkyria Chronicles

I have been enjoying this Japanese RPG with turn based tactical combat since picking it up in the Steam sale.

The game has an excellent story with well developed characters and plenty of background details all told with very cute anime graphics in a storybook format.

The turn based tactical combat feels a bit like XCom but it has several interesting differences. For example rather than each character getting one move each round you get a limited number of action points to spend on whichever characters you chose. Action points are precious so choosing the best characters each round is an great tactical twist. Also surprising is the fact that characters can move after they attack unlike the majority of turn based games that I have played. This means that it is possible for a character like a sniper to pop out of cover take a shot and then pop back into cover. The usefulness of this is somewhat constrained however by the abundance of reaction shots in the game. Most characters get a free reaction shot after you attack them and before you can move. Also they automatically fire at any exposed character  for the duration of that characters turn. There appears to be an accuracy penalty but you can easily be killed just standing around or moving out of cover. It is no exaggeration to say that more bullets are fired this way than through deliberate shots so positioning your units to get good reaction fire is a key element of tactics. It also introduces a sense of urgency to turns because you cannot afford to linger if a character is exposed.

I have read criticism of the mission grading system in Valkyria which prioritises speed over everything else if you want to get the most XP. This is not a game breaker for me however because even though I like taking a slower more tactical approach there are repeatable skirmish missions that can be used to cover any deficit in XP. Also if you are playing more tactically you don't need to maximise your stats so XP is less important.

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