Developed by Sega Wow (formerly Overworks and Wow Entertainment), a division within Sega whose designers are noted for titles such as Skies of Arcadia and Sakura Taisen, Valkyria Chronicles is a PS3 exclusive tactical RPG title loosely based on WW2 Europe. With a unique twist on 3D cel-shading style, the game offers players the excitement of its full strategic depth made possible through a hybridized real-time/turn-based battle system.
Valkyria Chronicles is set in Europa, which resembles the European continent, as it was known in 1935; however, with significant deviations. Two major powers exist in this alternate world: the Atlantic Federation in the West controls most of the Europan peninsula, and the East Europan Alliance, known simply as 'the Empire", controls the East. Sitting in between both of these superpowers is the small nation of Gallia, home to an ancient bloodline, simple people, and a major reserve of ragnite ore. Ragnite is a miraculous ore that is used for many things, from powering vehicle and tank engines to providing Ragnaid's restorative powers. As the news of dwindling ragnite sources becomes a concern, the Empire launches a full invasion of the Atlantic Federation with a focus on Gallia itself, ostensibly to secure its ragnite. With Gallia struggling against this blitzkrieg, the story focuses on the actions of Squad 7, under command of Lieutenant Welkin Gunther, son of a famous war hero and a would-be natural sciences teacher, and Sergeant Alicia Melchiott, a would-be baker. Both first met each other within the village of Bruhl and found themselves fighting beside each other on the day the Empire's forces ruthlessly attack the city.
Through several daring missions, Gallia's forces manage to drive the Empire back, forcing its army to regroup. It is also discovered that the motivation behind the Empire's attack is not because of ragnite but because of interest in an all-powerful weapon left behind by an ancient race called the Valkyrur, which he believes to be hidden within the walls of Gallia's capital. According to legend, the Valkyrur had come down from the north and had used their incredible powers to defeat the Darcsen people who are blamed for nearly destroying the continent centuries earlier in a terrible war. Many doubt the existence of the Valkyrur today and consider them only as legend, but it is soon revealed that one of the Empire's generals, Selvaria Bles, is of Valkyrian blood. Displaying supernatural powers on the battlefield such as deflecting a tank shell with her shield or destroying an entire regiment of tanks on her own, she quickly turns the early victory of the Gallian army into a near rout singlehandedly until it is revealed that Alicia Melchiott is also of Valkyrian blood.
After defeating Selvaria, Alicia has severe doubts about her new role. Prince Maximilian, the commander of the Empire's invasion of the West, tells Selvaria that she must use the Final Flame. Selvaria's devotion to the Prince, born out of his mercy to her when he had her taken away from the Imperial testing facility where they were using her as a guinea pig, is challenged when he asks her to make the ultimate sacrifice. Devoted to both her duty and her unrequited love for her Prince, she makes preparations for the end.
At the fortress of Ghirlandaio on the border of Gallia and the Empire, Squad 7 and the Atlantic Federation engage Imperial forces in a decisive battle to end the war. Selvaria returns and challenges Squad 7 and Alicia to a duel between her forces and theirs without the use of her powers. In this final confrontation, Selvaria is finally defeated but gives herself up honorably. She is treated well by Squad 7 when she is captured. Alicia asks Selvaria how she deals with being a Valkyrur to which Selvaria replies that she must find something to believe in. When the Gallian army's commander arrives and Selvaria speaks without turn, he has a soldier smash the back of her head with the butt of a rifle. Gasping in pain, she asks only one thing: that Squad 7 escort her men, the Imperial prisoners, back to Gallia. The general laughs and accedes her request.
Later, as the Gallian general gloats in what had been Prince Maximilian's war room as he sits on his throne, Selvaria asks how long it has been since Squad 7 had left. The general says that several hours had already passed. Selvaria smiles to herself and begins burning with a blue light, awakening the Valkyrur power within her as she breaks her chains. The general orders her shot and bullets tear into her, but Selvaria's devotion to the Prince and to her duty give her the strength to demonstrate her will to fulfill her role. With one final speech, she invokes the Final Flame, annihilating the fortress and most of the Gallian army that had occupied it. Squad 7 witness the destruction from miles away as bolts of power sear the landscape, leaving the same type of scars seen in the Barious Desert. Alicia is shaken by Selvaria's sacrifice and questions herself if that is what it means to be a Valkyrur.
Prince Maximilian suddenly launches an attack with a mobile fortress which is the equivalent of a land battleship. With nothing to stand against it and most of the Gallian army destroyed by Selvaria's sacrifice, Alicia is determined to sacrifice her own life in order to use her new found power to destroy it. After chasing her down, Welkin is able to convince Alicia that there is more of a reason to live and that her powers don't make her any different as he confesses his love for her. Realizing that her new family in Squad 7, along with Welkin's love, represent the only power that should matter, she relents her attack with this new found purpose.
After this revelation, the members of Squad 7 race back to the capital in an effort to stop the Prince. They break through the final lines of Imperial
resistance towards the capital and manage to destroy the Valkyrur weapon that the Prince's land battleship had been constructed to carry. With the weapon's destruction, the Prince confronts Squad 7 in a final battle. Fueled by super science and bearing mock Valkyrur weaponry, the Prince attempts to destroy the Squad but after a pitched battle, defeat him at last. In a climactic finish, Welkin and Alicia are rescued from the exploding battleship by a glider that Isara had built. The fate of each squad member is revealed as the credits roll along with a list of those that had survived and those that may have died. Afterwards, it is shown that Alicia and Welkin are now husband and wife and have a daughter, Isara, as life returns to normal.
Aside from the main story, the game is also notable for dealing with many mature subjects, which have parallels with the Second World War. Genocide, prejudice, and racism against the Darcsen people, recognizable in the game by their dark hair, is depicted among both Gallian and Imperial peoples. For example, within Squad 7, Rosie openly shows her hate towards Darcsens, in particular Isara, the team's tank pilot and Welkin's adopted half-sister.
Called "BLiTZ", for "Battle of Live Tactical Zones", Valkyria Chronicles combines real-time and turn-based tactical combat. Each side takes its action in separate phases. Individual units can be activated by using "Command Points" (CP), and different unit classes cost different amounts of command points to activate, with Infantry using up one point and tanks using up two. Once activated, the unit can freely move about the battlefield in real-time, using weapons and abilities. As the unit moves, it can come under suppressing fire from enemy positions. Damage on enemies can also be increased by targeting the head, using mortars and grenades to destroy their cover, or using appropriate counter-units.
Units also have special abilities and traits called "Potentials" that affect their battlefield performance. For example, a unit with the "Child of Nature" potential feels uncomfortable operating on paved roads, lowering their accuracy, while a "Maternal" unit feels the need to protect her family, making her more effective when near units she has a close relationship with. Units also have relationships with other units, which can affect combination attacks, potential activation, and other factors. Commanders can also issue special orders, which can be specialized attacks or temporary boosts to unit attributes or performance.
Some unit classes are more effective against other unit types.
As a crossover feature, Valkyria Chronicles includes two playable characters from Sega's Skies of Arcadia, originally released on the Dreamcast.The game's main protagonist, Vyse, takes the role of a Shocktrooper while his childhood friend Aika is depicted as a Scout. Fina is also present, albeit in unplayable form, as the Medic. At the end of the game, it is revealed that both Vyse and Aika had left in search of adventure and that Fina and her sisters joined them.
Welkin Gunther - Leader of Squad 7. Son of the late War-Hero Belgen Gunther. He loves nature and is studying Natural Science at university at the start of the game. Welkin hopes to be a teacher some day so that he may pass his knowledge on to the younger generations. When he first returns back to Bruhl, his hometown, he is arrested by Alica who accuses him of being an imperial spy. He uses the Edelweiss, his late father's tank, during combat. After holding the imperials off long enough, he allows the residents of Bruhl to escape. He and Alicia themselves then escape to Randgriz, capital of Gallia. There, Welkin sings up for the Gallian militia. He is appointed Squad Leader due to his exploits in Bruhl. During certain missions when he is not using the tank, Welkin is a scout unit. For a squad leader he is considered young. Initially his squad members are skeptical of his leadership abilities, but after demonstrating his military genius, combined with his extensive knowledge of nature, he formulates a plan to drive his tank across a river and launch a surprise attack on the enemies camp. After this, the squad's members don't question him and soon develop a liking to him. As the game progresses, he soon brings all of the squad members together, to the point where they start to consider each other as family. He is also awarded the Gallian medal of Honour due to his numerous successes in battle. Through several events, he soon realizes his feelings for Alicia.
Alicia Melchiott - A baker in training before the war. She was an orphan and doesn't remember her parents. At the outbreak of the war, she becomes the captain of the Bruhl Guardwatch. She arrest Welkin for being a suspected spy, which is later proven wrong. She, like most others, was forced into the war. After her and Welkin sign up for the militia, she is also placed in Squad 7. She is given the rank of Sergeant and becomes second-in-command of squad 7. She is the lead scout. Through several events, Alicia and Welkin bond, and the both of them soon realize their feelings for each other. Throughout the story, there are several clues of her bloodline, but only Faldio, Sqaud 1's leader, notices them. He conducts his own research and concludes that Alicia is a descendant of the Valkyrur. During the battle of Naggiar, Alicia's powers awaken after suffering a grave wound. After this revelation, she becomes unsure of her role as a Valkyria, and even contemplates sacrificing her life in order to give the Gallians victory in the War. She is dissuaded by Welkin, who vows to protect her. Welkin then proposes to her in the middle of the combat zone, to which Alicia accepts.
Isara Gunther - Welkin's adopted sister. Her biological father was a good friend of Welkin's father, Belgen Gunther, and as a personal favour built the Edelweiss for Belgen. After her father passes away, Belgen adopts Isara as his own daughter. Isara runs and fixes the Edelweiss. In combat, she is the tank driver of the Edelweiss. Because she is a Darcsen (a certain race of people in the game's world), she is discriminated against. However, Welkin always comes in to defend his sister. Because of this, Isara vows to repay Welkin, and she decides to do this by building him an airplane, so that he may fly. During the game's time period, only a couple of other planes exist. She and Rosie initially fight, due to Rosie hating Darcsens at first. However, after Rosie witnesses the genocide and slavery of the Darcsen people, she realizes how inhuman she was being. Isara and Rosie then become friends. However, this is short lived. During the Battle at Marberry Shore, Isara is shot and killed. She is not forgotten however, as all the members of squad 7 (except Welkin as they decide to surprise him) begin to help out in realizing Isara's dream in building Welkin an airplane. The plane is finished near the end of the game, and it saves Welkin and Alicia's life.
Brigitte "Rosie" Stark - She was a bar singer before the war, which gained her the name "Rosie". She can handle a gun, which led to her being the lead shocktrooper. She has a prejudice against Darcsens which leads to conflict. As the story progresses, her hate for the Darcsens dissipates as she witnesses the genocide and slavery of the Darcsen people, she realizes how inhuman she was being. She becomes close friends with Isara eventually. It is revealed in a side chapter that her hate of the Darcsens originated when the Empire attacked her village because there was a large number of Darcsens living there. During the attack, her family is killed. However, after Isara is killed, she vows to do her part in stopping the Darcsen hating. After the end of the War, Rosie becomes a singer and tours the continent to broadcast her songs and message of peace, but she always makes time to visit Isara's grave at least once a year.
Largo Potter - Is a veteran of the First Europan War. He values experience over everything in combat. He thinks little of Welkin when he starts out. But as Welkin starts to lead the squad to several victories he gains respect for him. He also has a prejudice against Darcsens, but this quickly disappears after working closely with Isara. He is the lead lancer of Squad 7. Before joining the military, he lived on a farm that was owned by his parents. It's because of this that he has a great love for vegetables. He always reminds the squad to eat vegetables whenever they can because he claims that they are "bombs full of nutrients".He signed up for the militia during the first Europan War along with his friend Frederick. That's where they met Eleanor Varrot. Eleanor and Frederick fell for each other. However, during the war Frederick was captured, tortured, and killed. Varrot remains in the militia after the war, hoping for revenge against the enemy captain responsible. Largo decides to stay as well to can keep an eye on her. He manages to comfort Eleanor when she is given the chance to avenge Frederick and convinces her to let go of her hate. After the war, Largo marries Eleanor and opens up his own farm.
Maximilian - Prince of the Empire. He is the lead commander of the invasion of Gallia. He has three generals that serve under him called Drei Stern. He rescued Selvaria from a lab where they were conducting experiments on her, which causes Selvaria to develop an undying love and loyalty for Maximilian. At first it seems that he only wants to invade Gallia because of its abundance in Ragnite, but it is later revealed that he only wishes to claim the power of the Valkyrur for himself by collecting several artifacts based in Gallia and Randgriz, Gallia's Capital. He admits that he lusts for power because he aims to seize the empire for himself. Because his mother was not of royal birth, he was often shunned by his relatives. Because of this, he swears to have his vengeance and to gain control of the Empire.
Selvaria Bles - She is part of the Drei Stern. She serves Maximilian with great loyalty. She has the unique powers of the Valkyrur. She awakens her power by wielding a spear and shield that the Valkyrur used in their time. Because of this, she is unstoppable in battle, even being able to reflect a tank shell with her Spear. She has a few childhood memories and remembers her mother's cooking fondly. Her mother was killed in some sort of attack, leaving Selvaria by herself. She is rescued by the Empire. However, after they realize her powers, she is taking to a lab in order to be experimented on. Maximillian saves her from the lab. This causes Selvaria to have an undying loyalty for him, to the point where she will give her life to realize his plans. She is also a proven commander and is in charge of the invasion of Central Gallia. She faces of against Squad 7 a total of three times. The first two times, she is invulnerable, but she can be forced to retreat by completing the mission's objective. She faces Squad 7 one last time at the fortress of Ghirlandaio, without her powers, and just as a normal woman. Squad 7 defeats her and she is taken prisoner by the Gallian army. As the militia leaves the fortress to escort the other imperial prisoners away, she uses the Valkyrur's final flame, sacrificing her life to wipe out the entirety of Gallia's army in a massive explosion. This gives Maximillian the opening to attack Randgriz directly.
Berthold Gregor - The oldest of the Drei Stern. He also led the invasion of Fhirald, another Europan county. There, he had a face of with Fhirald's top general, Radi Jaeger. Gregor's leg was injured in this battle, and so he walks with a walking stick. Gregor is placed in charge of the Northern invasion of Gallia and captures Fouzen, Gallia's biggest industrial city. There he has a Darcsen work camp, analogous to real-life Nazi concentration camps. He runs the camp with a clear hate for Darcsens, and subjects them to toxic working conditions without pity. Gregor maintains order and defends the camp with an armored train, heavily armed and impervious to assault. It rides a railway that circles Fouzen from above, so that it may shoot down any opponent. The train also has long-range mortars. However, the train is defeated when Squad 7 detonate the railway bridge that the train is riding on, causing it to fall into the river valley and blow up, with Gregor in it.
Radi Jaeger - The last member of the Drei Stern. He is not from the Empire, but from another country called Fhirald. He managed to fight off the Empire for a long time, even though his army was smaller and less well equipped. He was eventually defeated. However, Maximilian was so impressed that he gave Jaeger a proposition. He asked him to fight for the Empire and be one of his generals, and when the Empire has seized Gallia, Maximilian will give back Fhirald's independance. He fights with chivalry, and likes when his enemies do the same. He shows respect to everyone he meets, and also shows respect for his enemies. He is in charge of the Empire's tank division and is said to have won his battles by using "Advanced Tank Tactics". He drives a very powerful tank called Lupus Regnum, that has an outer armor shell. He is placed in charge of the Southern invasion of Gallia. Near the end of the game, Squad 7 faces off with Jaeger. Jaeger is defeated and his tank destroyed. He congratulates Squad 7 and resigns from the Imperial army, having recognized the strength of the squad's will to fight for their homeland as he fought for his.