Farewell to arms

After three years I’ve finally finished playing Valkyria Chronicles. Popular opinion of it is correct – it really was one of the best games of the PS3 console generation. Think of it as a World War 2 movie in video game form, except since it’s not based on real history then the female sweethearts do more than pine away at home for their menfolk at the front lines. The grand sweeping emotions don’t get cheesy or mawkish. It’s basically a sweeping war epic, and I feel that bittersweet sadness I sometimes get after finishing an engaging story full of characters who live on in my mind long after the last page is turned or the final scene is finished.

And what characters! The game itself is a sort of turn-based squad game, similar to the rebooted X-COM, but unlike X-COM your squaddies aren’t randomly generated and have short biographies available for your perusal. Knowing the details of your soldiers’ lives adds nothing to the mechanics of the gameplay, but learning that Juno never told her commander of her feelings for him or that Dallas went to an all-girls school makes me appreciate it more when I order them into danger. I’ll miss Freesia, the travelling desert dancer; Jane, who hated the invaders ever since they destroyed her flower shop; Oscar, the coward who became a soldier when his country needed him and his brother Emile, the sickly young man who nevertheless became one of my best snipers; Rosie, the cynical bar maid and chanteuse turned militia trooper; Claudia, the shut-in who couldn’t stay hidden away when her home was bombed, and Karl and Lynn, the interracial couple who were swept up in the greatest conflict of their generation.

There’s a New Game Plus mode, but despite how much fun this game was I don’t think I’ll ever play it again. Once was enough, and more than enough.

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