Valkyria Chronicles Remastered is a fine example of a game that'll always look bloody lovely because of its art style. When the original Valkyria Chronicles launched on the PlayStation 3 all the way back in 2008, it was a stunner, sporting wistful, superbly crafted watercolour-esque visuals. From start to finish the title was a joy to behold, and the same is true of its PlayStation 4 revival. Kind of.
Again, it's the superb art style that's survived the last decade - not necessarily the graphics themselves. There are a few jagged edges in this current-gen remaster, alongside rough looking textures, and admittedly, some of the environments - which once looked so neat and clean - now look a bit bland and empty. It's been boosted to 1080p resolution and runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second, sure, but we're still a little shocked to see that such a visual feast has faded ever so slightly. Time's a terrible thing, we suppose.
Of course, visuals certainly aren't everything, especially when it comes to Valkyria Chronicles - a game which more than proved that you can have an incredible looking title that's also brilliant fun to play. It may have lost its sheen a little, but SEGA's strategy role-playing game still offers up a gameplay concoction that's addictive, clever, and heck, even unique.
Mixing strategic positioning with real-time movement, and then throwing in a sort of turn based, third-person shooting mechanic has always looked strange on paper, but it remains as playable as ever - at least, once you've got the hang of it. The process of moving individual characters behind cover or closer to the enemy perhaps seems a little clunky by today's standards, but landing a perfect headshot or successfully sneaking around the back of a tank and blowing it to bits is as satisfying as ever.
One thing that has been made clear to us over the remaster's first 10 hours or so is that, compared to many more modern strategy and role-playing games, Valkyria Chronicles is actually quite a streamlined experience. These days, developers are quick to talk about their project's deep crafting systems and skill trees, but back in 2008, SEGA didn't bother with anything overly complex - and it's strangely refreshing to see. Characters don't level up individually, for example. Instead, all squad members that belong to a specific class level up as one, meaning that grinding beaten battles for experience isn't anywhere near as much of a chore as it could be.
Indeed, numerous strategy titles bog themselves down with so many additional mechanics and optional systems that the core concept becomes buried - and that's simply not the case here. The game has extra components bolted on here and there, but they're never heavy enough to weigh down and detract from the methodical, often tense strategic battles at the heart of the release. In short, Valkyria Chronicles gives its core tactical elements room to breath, and in turn, that creates a surprisingly pure strategy experience.
As it stands, if you're a fan of the original game and have been tempted to run through it again in the past but perhaps haven't found the time, then Valkyria Chronicles Remastered seems like a great excuse to re-enlist with Welkin Gunther's Squad 7. Not much has changed almost 10 years on, and it may have lost a bit of its shine, but its overall quality as a strategy title still stands strong.
You can read our full review before the game releases, but until then, are you looking forward to Valkyria Chronicles Remastered? Did you play the PlayStation 3 original? Fix up your tank and roll into the comments section below.