Throughout the history of gaming there have been a multitude of well know series. Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Halo, Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, Grand Theft Auto, and many more make up the back bone of the industry. They’re the games that have gotten the most publicity in their respective heydays. Many non-gamers even recognize their cultural significance. These titles are integral to the success of gaming. They’ve brought in the big bucks and kept their developers and publishers in business. I cannot overstate how important they are. Here’s the thing; there is only so much publicity and money to go around. Outlets like our dear Game Informer can only devote so much time to a game. We gamers have a finite amount of money we are willing to spend. The result of this is plenty of great titles get left by the wayside. What I would like to accomplish with this series is to bring some attention to these under appreciated gems from the past, present, and future.

Back in October of 2008 developer Sega WOW released Valkyria Chronicles for the PS3. A tactical-rpg with gorgeous visuals; Valkyria Chronicles was extremely well received by critics. Unfortunately it barely reached a million sales after a price drop in April of ‘09.

What I love about this game is its depth in story and world realization. Loosely based on WWII era Europe, there’s an incredible attention to detail in the history of Europa. Gallia, is a small independent and proud nation, crushed between two super powers. One of which, known as the Imperial alliance, bares qualities of both Nazi Germany and a medieval aristocracy.  The other is known as the Atlantic Federation, who I have yet to meet. War breaks out due to the lack of a vital resource known as Ragnite. The Imperials sweep across the continent and eventually declare war on Welkin Gunther’s, the protagonist, homeland. One thing leads to another and Welkin becomes a Lieutenant in the Gallian militia.

If you’re a fan of XCOM or any strategy game for that matter, you’ll feel right at home. As Lt. Welkin Gunther, you get complete control. Battles are turned base allowing a limited amount of actions in each round. You have your standard classes such as Scouts, Snipers, Engineers, and even tanks. Each class can be leveled up on its own at the HQ training grounds. Each unit’s gear can be upgraded by investing money in the R&D department. Combat is challenging and actually requires you to plan ahead. Surprisingly the combat was not the big hook. Rather the story and its characters. Progression of each character is remarkable. Even your individual squad mates all have their own personalities and stories. I’m not talking 5 or 6 characters, I’m talking dozens.  It’s a shockingly deep narrative for a strategy game, one that is on par with many of my favorite animes.

Maybe Valkyria Chronicles is a bit heavy on the cutscenes, especially early on, but each one is vital to portrayal of the world and its characters. Within a short time I became attached to the small nation of Gallia and actually wished I was there to help defend its independence. Welkin, Alicia, Isara; each of them and all of their friends, are captivating. When one of them gets wounded or worse I feel so terrible about myself for letting it happen.

I know many might be put off by the anime art style and call it cartoonish. Maybe you feel turn-based strategy games aren’t your thing. Or maybe you’ve just never heard of Valkyria Chronicles. Even if all this is true, it wouldn't hurt to give this excellent game a try.