Valkyria Chronicles is a turn based strategy game set in a fantasy World War 2. If youíve ever seen Axis Powers Hetalia it feels a bit like that; obsessed with pretty people in immaculate military uniforms, whilst making a peculiarly soft presentation of one of history`s most brutal periods. I haven`t finished the game yet, I`m taking a break after being ass fucked by one of the gameís ludicrous difficulty spikes. Whilst I recover from that I have decided to put my thoughts together. In game, you take control of a squad of specialists to complete specific missions. You also have a tank, which specialises in getting snagged on bits of scenery. I actually enjoy the gameplay a lot. It is simple yet varied enough to allow some imagination, which you\'ll need to deal with a variety of challenges. The turn based design means the game moves at a slow pace, but it always feels frantic as the firefights play out in real time. The game does have the difficulty spikes however. I`m stuck fighting a ginormous enemy tank. It has taken one failed playthrough to learn the proper way to kill it. It has taken a second, longer failed playthrough to discover that whatever your plan was to deal with the tank, it`ll get shredded when a second boss character appears out of nowhere and kills half your squad before you`re permitted to respond. I`m hoping the game won`t keep pulling these dick moves in later levels, because it`s frustrating and at odds with the strategy premise. One thing this game does really well is humanise the squad. Normally strategy games put you in the role of a ruthless leader, feeding faceless soldiers into a meat grinder. In Valkyria, every single soldier you recruit has a unique face, personality and background. They also permanently die, so you actually try not to get them killed. The story is a very typically anime sort of thing, full of arm waving, gasping, navel gazing, and pedestrian sociology. I don`t mind it, except for this one rather odd subplot involving one of the squaddies, whom everyone keeps being racist to. Iím sure they`ll eventually put aside their differences through teamwork, but what makes it weird (weirder than suddenly finding your squad is full of racists), is how race is depicted; everyone is generic anime white, including the girl getting bullied. They only know she is different because of her black hair. I know there is a lot more to race than skin colour, but it is tonally odd to make an issue of racism with this setting whilst depicting everyone as the exact same race. I would say it`s a consequence of Japanís mono-cultural perspective, but then again Poland fell into the exact same trap with The Witcher III. It`s not a deal breaker but it is uncanny to be affronted with that lack of self-awareness on the part of the game designers. For what itís worth I am dying to get back into the game and kill that tank. Give it a try and I imagine youíll be doing the same.
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