Being a lifelong “Sega kid”, the first thing I sought out on the Tokyo Game Show floor was the Sega booth. I made my rounds, making note of the locations of games I knew would be there, and then I came across the section for Valkyrja: Gallian Chronicles and was drawn in. The game I knew almost nothing about quickly became my favorite Sega title of the show, and now sits very high on my “must have” list.
If the huge tank jutting out of the booth wall wasn’t enough to grab one’s attention, then the incredibly beautiful visuals of this title would be. Gallian Chronicles is visually stunning, as it uses a new graphical presentation system called “GANVAS”. The entire game looks like a moving blend of colored pencil sketches and watercolor backdrops. The scenery is set in some alternative Dutch-themed 1935, where fields of flowers and spinning windmills set the backdrop. Shadows are like scribbles and explosions look like cartoon puffs of smoke. Words and even screen shots will not do the actual game justice.
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The game tells the story of a little country called Duchy of Gallia, which had always been neutral until an unexpected attack from Empire, a neighboring country. Empire and Federation were at war, and the people of Gallia now find themselves involved, desperately defending their home. You play as the voluntary army of Gallia, now thrust into war.
This isn’t your everyday tactical RPG. Sega is calling this battle system “BLiTZ”, and while we don’t like the name, we love the concept. Just like any other tactical RPG, you’ll make commands via an overhead map, but the difference here is that an action mode follows these commands, and players will find themselves actually carrying out the commanded actions.
The action mode zooms into a third-person view, right in on the point of conflict directly after issuing commands. In once instance, I became a soldier carrying a huge lance. I began to sneak against the wall of a building and noticed an enemy tank around the corner. I took aim with this “lance” (more like a tank-busting rocket) and fired it directly into the tank, setting off a massive cartoon explosion complete with Japanese-style “ka-boom!” graphics. Another controlled action sequence had me controlling a cute, female, musket-toting sniper, taking out an enemy gunner behind some sandbags. Each instance gave me full control, down to aiming and firing.
A watercolor 1930’s Dutch countryside rocked by warfare is the freshest setting I’ve seen in a long time, and Sega’s new graphical system really makes it work. This blend of action and tactics brings an approachability to the tactical RPG, not to mention some interactivity to break up standard command issuing. The combination of all of these elements makes for a game so interesting and moving that we can’t help but be excited. We look forward to Gallian Chronicles’ PlayStation 3 release sometime in 2008.