Tobold's Blog
Friday, January 03, 2020
Valkyria Chronicles - Why don't I like it?

As part of the Xbox Game Pass for PC I downloaded Valkyria Chronicles, the first one. I had already started that one once on the PS4, but never gotten far. And on paper it ticks all the right boxes for me to like it: I love games with turn-based tactical combat, I like Japanese role-playing games, and I have no special dislike towards the WWII setting. But again I'm a few hours into the game, and have problems finding the motivation to continue. Why don't I like this game?

I think it might have to do with the scripted nature of the battles, and the way the game keeps score. You get xp and money based on in how few turns you finish the battle. Now if you play a battle for the first time, you don't know the enemy positions, and might run into some surprises, like a scout hidden in the grass somewhere. So your battle result probably isn't going to be perfect on the first try, and you might get something like a "C". You can't replay story battles, but you can reload a save game, and with the added knowledge from the first try, maybe the next run you get a "B", netting you more xp and money. Or you go on YouTube, and find a video explaining how to get an "A", which usually involves rushing the battle with a single scout, and takes much of the variety out of battles. In other words, if you want to play the game "well", you need to play it like a puzzle game, not like a tactical battle game. If you insist on playing it like a tactical game and don't save-scum, the game punishes you with giving you less xp and money.

I think I will use a work-around. I'll play the game as a tactical game for fun. And now that I have it on PC, I can use software like Cheat Engine to grant myself the xp and money I would have gotten if I had played it as a puzzle game. I don't object to cheating in a single-player game, it basically just is a way to redesign the game, if you use it right. I don't regularly do it, but in some cases cheats and mods can make a game I don't enjoy so much more enjoyable.

Sounds like a perfectly agreeable solution. You would achieve the save result via save scamming so this just is saving you time.

On a totally unrelated note I wanted to recomend you to try The Outer Wilds. It's a sci-fi exploration game that I feel would be right up your alley. Some puzzles and mysteries with an intriguing breadcrumb style narrative.

That's 100% what I hated about Valkyria Chronicles. I was having a bloody brilliant time, a little annoyed at being forced to rush, but otherwise using my favourite units to set up traps and ambushes etc... and then I just really got stuck on one mission and found a guide that showed me how it was all scripted and I could follow more guides to get max rank on every mission ever after and it was like I'd just discovered god mode.

At that point, I lost a lot of interest.

Tell you what, though... if you can find the anime, you really should give that a watch. It's beat for beat pretty much the exact same story, but better told.
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Thanks for the warning! I absolutely can't stand 'try it again, stupid' gameplay. i.e., something that is impossible to know about until you've gone through the sequence/level/whatever a few times (see also GTA). It honestly confuses me a bit that people like this, but maybe it is like you say, a sort of puzzle-solving thing.

I'm happy to let them play what they want, but I wish our taxonomy of games was better so we could identify things like this before investing money. (which would be nice for both people who hate it and love it).
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