PS4, XB1, Switch, PC
Best PC Game
Best Xbox One Game
Best Franchise Revival
We’ve talked a lot about Valkyria Chronicles 4 around here this year, so in celebrating it as one of the best games of the year, let’s not just say how great the game is again. It is. You should play it. Let’s talk about how it’s great that you can play it at all.
Valkyria Chronicles was a dead series in the West. After the first game sold less than great on the PS3, the second was released on the PSP and… well, it’s the PSP and this isn’t Japan. So when the third game was released in Japan and lauded as a return to form for the series, we didn’t get it. It was over, and no amount of quality was going to change that.
It wasn’t that much better in Japan, either. That third game marked the end of releases for the franchise, outside of a few minor mobile tie-ins and a card game collaboration. This sort of vestigial presence is way more common in Japan than it is here: keeping a property alive through low-effort side projects is an easy way to keep selling merchandise without committing to an ambitious future effort.
Then a small, vocal group of fans asked loudly for an investment that Sega evidently found reasonable enough to try: a Steam release for the original game. It was well-developed, and the resulting game released at a time when not a lot of Japanese games were on Steam. It finally had visibility, along with an affordable entry price, and it paid off. But it didn’t stop there, as it often does because the cost of a port and the cost of an entirely new development are very different.
There was one more road block, too: Valkyria Revolution. Though a true sequel was (privately) in development before the spinoff’s release, its retail faceplant in all territories could have very easily given Sega a reason (or excuse) to scale back its ambitions for releasing Valkyria Chronicles 4 in all territories. But it didn’t. The West even got the unnecessary luxury of an Xbox One release for the game, which likely wasn’t too difficult but still shows the commitment put behind this game even when its predecessor remains largely unknown to those outside Japan. (Though there’s a great fan translation.)
Isn’t this what dedicated fan bases want? It’s hard to say whether VC4 was a financial success for Sega and whether it will lead to more titles, but the franchise was not just revived but maybe made even better by the revival. Time will tell whether fans of Shenmue and Sakura Wars will be as lucky to have their new entries, but there are plenty of people out there who’d love to have what Valkyria fans have now. And that shouldn’t be undervalued.