A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an emotionally mature game that eschews simple "war is good" or "war is bad" messages in favor of a more thoughtful and philosophical message. The main character, Welkin, explains that war is necessary by saying that in nature all animals fight in order to survive – and that humans are animals too. This game is set during a war and violence is shown. Soldiers can get shot or blown up. Squad members aren't just interchangeable soldiers, but each have distinct personalities that can include foibles such as racism, stand-offishness, and defiance, but also positive qualities. If you lose one of your squad on the battlefield, their death is permanent, which some players might find upsetting.
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- Kids say
What's it about?
In a fantasy world heavily based on 1930s Europe at the outbreak of World War II, two factions go to war over the rare mineral ragnite, and young science student-turned-militia recruit Welkin Gunther rises through the ranks to become a military hero. The story of VALKYRIA CHRONICLES is told through episodes of a history book called \"On the Gallian Front,\" which blends beautiful watercolor dialogue scenes with epic skirmishes that can last an hour or more.
Players command a large squad of soldiers that fall under five professions: lancers, scouts, shock troops, engineers, snipers and tanks. Gameplay blends turn-based strategy with live-action elements. Players begin each turn by using their allotted Command Points (CP) to move the units under their command. Once a unit has been selected, the view shifts to a close-up of that character and players are free to move, aim, and attack in real-time.
Is it any good?
While a few minor issues (including questionable hit detection and strange enemy AI) hold Valkyria Chronicles back slightly, this challenging and emotionally-charged title should be at the top of any strategy game fan's list. Not only is the gameplay extremely creative, but the story is rewarding and the characters nuanced. Each squad member is not just a faceless soldier, but has a personality with likes, dislikes, strengths, and foibles that will affect how they act in certain situations and with each other.
If a character is lost on the battlefield, it's permanent, so as their commander, players are conditioned to really feel responsible for them. The game's message is neither pro-war nor anti-war, and treats the subject in a very human and mature way seldom seen before in a video game. With 19 chapters, Valkyria Chronicles offers 25 – 30 hours of gameplay at a minimum. If players are prepared for the mature theme and steep learning curve, it's well worth the experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether knowing that you could lose a squad member forever made you play the game differently than you would other war-themed games. How hard was it to juggle the personalities in your squad so that everyone could work together. What are some real-life situations where people with different world views and backgrounds have to cooperate? Do you agree with Welkin that war is part of nature?
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