Sega’s Valkyria Chronicles games are masterpieces in both strategic gameplay and unique art style with plots that have inspired no less than two anime adaptations. The newest game in the franchise, Valkyria: Azure Revolution, ditches the turn-based strategy for a real-time combat–with a time-freezing twist.
In the short fifteen-minute TGS demo, you take control of a squad of four and–like in the other Valkyria Chronicles games–take out entrenched enemy positions to capture key points as your army’s own. Each of your squad members controls differently and can be switched to on-the-fly at any time. The main character, Amleth, wields a giant greatsword and can cleave through groups of enemies. Female lead Ophelia, on the other hand, uses two rapiers and deals focused damage to a single target.
Most of the gameplay takes place in real time as you move about and battle the enemy with normal attacks. However, what makes this game feel like a Valkyria game instead of a run-of-the-mill hack-and-slash is that, every so often, you are able to freeze time and use a special attack. The special attacks take two forms: technological and magical.
The technological ones are what you’d expect from Valkyria Chronicles–i.e., guns and grenades–though with a different variety. One character wields a bazooka instead of a rifle while Ophelia uses smoke grenades instead of explosive ones.
But it’s the magical abilities that stand out from what we’ve seen in the series so far. Each of the four characters uses magic of a specific element–earth, fire, wind, water–and combines them with their weapons for a wide array of attacks. Helpfully, when selecting an attack, the attack power and area of effect are overlaid on the screen, making it easy to see. There are also healing skills which follow the same basic rules. All magical attacks consume some of the character’s MP, but that can be restored through using normal attacks.
Other than fighting squads of normal soldiers, the TGS demo also includes a boss battle against a spider-like war mecha. Like with your special attacks, the mecha’s own area of effect is shown on the ground, giving you and your squad time to evade through the (admittedly limited) squad commands.
All in all, I am far more excited for Azure Revolution than I was when saw the first demo in action earlier this year. The addition of the time-freezing special attack mechanic makes the game much more complex and interesting. But make no mistake: Azure Revolution is a very different kind of game when compared to the original Valkyria Chronicles trilogy. Yet, while much of the battle planning strategy is gone from Azure Revolution, it still feels like aValkyria game. And that makes it a lot of fun.
Valkyria: Azure Revolution will be released on the PlayStation 4 in Japan on January 19, 2017. There is currently no word on a Western release.