Sunday, 12 July 2009

Valkyria Chronicles - Episode 14

With episode thirteen setting everything up for a major assault in the Gallian militia's plan to liberate Fouzen, we knew that this next instalment was going to be an almost entirely action-oriented one, and if that's what you were looking for this time around then you certainly shouldn't have been left disappointed.

As the episode begins, so does Welkin and company's plot - First, the liberation of those within the Darcsen concentration camp, then Faldio, Alicia and Welkin strike the Empire's main base in the town, all of which serves as a distraction while the explosives are laid to take out the train cannon which has ruled over Fouzen militarily ever since the Empire took control of it.

Of course, even the best-laid plans don't always go 100% smoothly, and thus only some of the explosives planted to take out the train go off, leaving it crippled but still operational. This gives Gegor the opportunity to hold the militia (or rather the escaping Darcsen) to ransom - Unless the Gallian's retreat immediately, he threatens to use the train cannon to kill the newly liberated Darcsen's. This leaves Welkin in a major quandry to the point where he's unable to make a decision, until Faldio steps in to make the choice for him - Doubtless this moment will return to haunt them both later in the series, while also serving as a companion to the changing dynamic between the two and their growing love rivalry over Alicia.

For a series that I've jokingly referred to as being entirely too light-hearted about the war it portrays, there were certainly no such lightness or fluffiness about this episode as it looked to portray the squalid conditions that the Darcsen prisoners and labourers were made to work in and their subsequent demise at the hands of the Empire - Given that previously "cartoony" treatment of war, some of the imagery here was somehow all the more shocking. Of course, that didn't bring the levels of believability up to entirely realistic standards (rather too many close-range bullets were dodged here for my liking), but it did kick things up a notch in terms of giving this series some depth - Add to that the developing internal conflict between Welkin and Faldio, and the second half of Valkyria Chronicles could turn out to be a rather juicy one in several ways.