Valkyria Chronicles 4

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Valkyria Chronicles 4 Game Poster Image
Talky, engaging, turn-based tactics with some lewd dialogue.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Deals with war themes (somewhat heavy-handedly), including honor, camaraderie, sacrifice, and respecting the dead. The strongest threads focus on trusting your friends and doing what's right.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Each soldier has his or her own flaws of varying severity -- one rebels against authority while another robs bodies of dead soldiers. Most of these issues are addressed by other characters, helping them to learn from their mistakes. Most main characters are reluctant to engage in violence, do so only because they feel a duty to protect country, family, friends, values. Male and female soldiers are given equal status, ability on the battlefield, though some men have lecherous qualities. Some women also refuse to wear practical uniforms, opting for dresses and short skirts instead. 

Ease of Play

It will likely take players unfamiliar with the series a bit of time to get used to the strategy required. Movement, attacking are pretty straightforward, and tutorials on dozens of subjects can be accessed when needed. Two difficulty levels allow players to tailor the challenge of combat: "Normal" difficulty is for average players, and "Easy" makes it surprisingly hard to lose.

Violence

Players engage in third-person turn-based combat using weapons inspired by World War II, including rifles, grenades, rocket launchers, and tanks. Characters react physically and call out in pain when struck, and are permanently removed from the player's squad if they die. Blood effects are limited to stains on clothes and occasional splashes in non-interactive narrative sequences.

Sex

No sex scenes, but characters sometimes discuss sexual activity in raunchy detail, clearly alluding to sexual subjects -- such as ejaculation -- via lewd metaphors and double entendres.

Language

No sex scenes, but characters sometimes discuss sexual activity in raunchy detail, clearly alluding to sexual subjects -- such as ejaculation -- via lewd metaphors and double entendres. "S--t" used in dialogue frequently.

Consumerism

Latest chapter in popular strategy franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters reference alcohol, and one's clearly portrayed as drunk. Cigarettes appear.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a turn-based strategy game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The game has a fantasy story and a setting reminiscent of World War II. The player's squad is part of a besieged allied force defending its member nations from an evil invading empire. Players control individual characters by moving them around the battlefield and selecting actions for them to perform, such as attacking with a rifle or fixing a tank with a repair kit. Characters react physically and cry out in pain when hit, but there's no blood or gore, save the occasional bit of stained clothing in non-interactive story scenes. The heroes are an even mix of men and women, all equal on the battlefield, though certain male soldiers sometimes act lewdly, and some women fit absurd gender stereotypes -- refusing to wear practical clothing for combat, for example. Story scenes include soldiers who smoke and drink, as well as several lewd conversations referencing sex, though the act itself is never shown. Dialogue also includes frequent profanity, including the word "s--t," but it stops short of stronger language.

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What's it about?

VALKYRIA CHRONICLES 4 puts players in command of a squad of fighters in an army of allied nations standing against the invasion of a tyrannical empire. As commander, you enjoy an overhead view of the battlefield so that you can wisely choose which units you'd like to order around. Once selected, your fighters are controlled from a perspective similar to that of a third-person shooter, moving between points of cover and carrying out actions such as attacking enemies, repairing tanks, and medically treating your comrades. Between key campaign missions, players can level up soldier classes, upgrade gear, soup up their tanks, and embark on side missions that offer a chance to get to know more about the backstories and relationships of the game's very large cast of characters. The time between battles also includes scores of "episodes" -- non-interactive narrative sequences -- that provide context and motivation for the coming combat. It's worth noting that as the game progresses, some characters that players have come to know and care about will likely die in battle, and if they die in battle, they get permanently removed from your squad roster.

Is it any good?

This is an ideal game for fans of turn-based tactics or manga-style characters and storytelling, but it may prove off-putting for anyone else. Valkyria Chronicles 4's strategic combat makes it feel like you're playing multiple roles in a turn-based third-person shooter. The fun of combat comes in understanding how to put units with varying abilities to the best and most efficient use. That means taking out pillboxes with tanks and rocket launchers, anti-armor guns with mortars, and entrenched infantry with grenades and rifles. It's all wonderfully balanced and open-ended, with players typically able to call in the specific types of reinforcements they need when they need them. The threat of permadeath creates a bit of drama in fiercer battles, and while it'd be nice to be able to grow the strengths and abilities of individual characters, leveling up entire classes at once is a reasonable substitute. You'll still come to know and care about each separate trooper under your command.

What could trip up some Western players, though, are the lengthy story sequences. The dialogue and acting aren't terrible, but they're also not particularly clever or refined. Messages about why its wrong to, say, steal from the dead, land with all the subtlety of a sack of rocks. And these scenes typically aren't presented in full animation, but are composed of talking heads that pop up in little boxes, which makes it feel like a lightly animated manga. Spending 10 or 20 minutes wading through dialogue that made its point in the first 30 or 40 seconds can be a bit of a buzz kill. You can skip through it pretty quickly if you like, but a tighter, cleaner story would have been better, especially for those who simply want to get back to Valkyria Chronicles 4's terrific tactical action.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sex, gender, and body image. In what ways does Valkyria Chronicles 4 depict men and women as equal? In what ways does it perpetuate gender stereotypes?

  • Do you enjoy taking your time to figure out the best way to go about tackling a challenging problem, or do you prefer to rush in and make split-second decisions as the situation demands?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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