Review by Arngrim Strider
Reviewed: 06/29/02 | Updated: 06/29/02
If there was ever a game that could be considered a work of art it would have to be this.
If there was ever a game that could be considered a work of art it would have to be this. This game makes stunning use of both 2d and 3d graphics, combined with immersive music, a very unique style of gameplay and also makes fine use of Norse references to enhance its presentation.
Contrary to popular belief, this game was not developed by Enix, instead it was by Tri-Ace who also made equally innovative games such as Star Ocean and the fantastic Super Nintendo game, Tales of Phantasia.
Story - 7/10:
As mentioned before, Valkyrie Profile is loosely based on Norse Mythology. In this game, you take the role of Lenneth Valkyrie, god of death. As a god of death, it is your duty to travel to Midgard, World of the Humans, and collect worthy souls of the recently departed. You must train these humans until they are strong enough to travel to Valhalla where they can fight for Odin, Lord of all Gods, in the war of the Ragnarok, which is the foretold end of the world. Unfortunately in-game, there isn’t much storytelling but what there is of it is very good. Likewise, after the immersive and sad death scenes, there won’t be any character interaction for that particular party member (with the exception of both Lenneth and Lucian). The very high quality translations should be regarded though in this game. Unlike Star Ocean II, the translations are very readable with most characters having their own unique way of speaking. Valkyrie Profile is a tad disappointing in the plot department but the other aspects of the game more than makes up for it.
Graphics - 10/10:
Let me start off by saying, this game has the best character designs I have ever seen. Every single character has his/her own unique look to them and is very painstakingly detailed. The game has a very nice ‘Norse’ touch to it. The graphics in towns and dungeons are also great, quite like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night; it makes good use of animated 2d effects. The FMVs aren’t really much when compared to the likes of Final Fantasy 8/9 but to put it frankly, I could care less about FMVs in ANY game. To me FMVs are a waste of CD/DVD space. To make it worse, most of the time you can’t skip it in a lot of games, so even if it’s the most brilliant and flashy FMV, it gets irritating when you watch it for the 10th time. Hopefully, with the capabilities of the next generation consoles (e.g. PS2) developers can make in-game graphics to look as good as any FMV, so that FMV will no longer be needed and can be abolished. And now, I have gone off-topic. Anyway, graphics used in battles are fantastic, each character having their own animation and spells looking very flashy (especially upgraded ones). The Playstation has probably reached the limits of graphics with Valkyrie Profile.
Gameplay - 10/10:
The overall game is a mixture of dungeon platforming and the usual RPG elements. You play the game in 8 different chapters, and during each you have a limited amount of time to explore towns and dungeons. After a lengthy 45 minute intro, you will end up on the world map. Entering towns and dungeons, or discovering new potential souls and locations (known as Spiritual Concentration, activated by pressing start on world map) all take up a specific number of periods. Each chapter usually has around 20 chapters, depending on difficulty level, but if you manage time well, it should be just enough. When there are no more remaining periods on chapter 8, you are taken to the Ragnarok, where you will go and infiltrate the fortress of the final enemy and proceed with the final battle. That is, however, assuming you are on the way to Ending B.
There are three endings in Valkyrie Profile and what you get depends on difficulty level and what you do. What difficulty level you choose affects how many experience points you get from defeated enemies, who you can recruit for your party, what dungeons you can traverse, and of course what ending you might get. In actuality though, there really isn’t much difference in the difficulty levels, but it does allow for good replay value. It is extremely unlikely you will get the good ending (Ending A) whatever you do, but it is worth it.
When exploring towns and dungeons, it will go to a side-on view much akin to a platforming game. While you won’t be doing much in town, there is much to be done in dungeons. Pressing the X button makes Valkyrie slash her sword, O to jump and Square button to shoot a short range crystal. All of these actions have multiple uses and can be combined to perform more actions. This is true especially for the crystal because it is necessary to learn how to use it in order to overcome the dungeon. Of course, there’s got to be monsters and fiends wandering about but this time you can actually see them which mean no more random encounters which should be a relief for some. You can even interact with the approaching enemies before fighting them (e.g. Shoot a crystal on them so that the monster becomes frozen, and then you can run past it or use it to gain extra height to reach a normally out of range ledge). If you slash the monster or it touches you then you will be taking to the battle, which is probably the most innovative thing in the game.
Tri-Ace has been known to make new and original ways to the battle system to separate itself from other turn-based battles in games and in Valkyrie Profile, they have done it again. Each monster and party member can take 1 action in each turn until everyone has taken a turn. However, in between turns, it is pretty much real time. Depending on what weapons the party members have, each member can strike from one to three times (or cast magic) at the same time as other characters! When you successfully combo you will be getting points to your ‘super meter’ until it reaches 100. When it does you can choose to have your characters do their own unique and flashy special technique, and you can even chain these moves with another special technique providing you can manage to make the super meter reach 100 again. However, to prevent abuse of these powerful skills, when you use them, it will add ‘charge time’ to the specific character. As long as a character even has one charge time, he/she will be unable to do a special technique, and magic casters can do nothing. So how do you lose those charge time? Well, when you strike an enemy while it is knocked down on the floor, there is a chance a purple stone will fly out and be acquired by a character that needs it. Purple stones take off one charge time so that’s why it is important to be able to combo well. Also, to encourage comboing, if an enemy is struck while in mid-air crystals may fall out, and they add 5% to the total experience gained and it is cumulative. There are many more aspects to the battle system but in short, the battles are very fast paced and very enjoyable and button mashing doesn’t mean victory.
Sound/Music - 9/10:
The sound and music in Valkyrie Profile are equally good. There are a lot of satisfying sound effects like the flame explosions of Arngrim’s final blast and the many sounds of the special magic finishers. The music is very nice as well (Composed by Motoi Sakuraba who also did the music for Star Ocean and Tales series), with most of them being fast paced, some a bit too fast paced (e.g. The boss theme ‘Confidence in the Domination’). Some music sounds very sad, like ‘Behave Irrationally,’ especially during a death scene. Battle themes like ‘The Nonsense of Reality’ and ‘The True Nature of All’ are quite fast paced to get you in the mood to battle. The various town themes are slow and calm which is basically perfect. As for the voice acting… Firstly I hate English voice acting in ANY Role Playing Game. Some sounds extremely bad as shown in games like Grandia and a Tri-Ace game Star Ocean II. If it was up to me I would not even think about English voice acting, and instead, leave the original voice acting in and subtitle whatever they say. However, the voice acting in this game isn’t so bad. While I still do not like it, it at least sounds decent compared to other games. Some even sound good and great like Arngrim and Lezard Valeth. While Lenneth Valkyrie herself and Freya both have annoying voices, overall the voice acting is decent. So, in this department, Valkyrie Profile is successful once again.
Replayability - 9/10:
This game was made to be replayed. I suggest choosing Easy difficulty first then beating the game whilst watching Endings B and C. Then play on Hard to really enjoy what the game has to offer. Going on the Ending A path will be VERY different experience, believe me and the game is different enough to be played again. Also, if you finish the game, there is an optional dungeon for you to undertake. So, for an RPG this has tremendous replay value.
Not enough story but what there is of it is very good.
Fantastic use of both 2d and 3d graphics, as well as making good use of Norse themes.
Large amount of variety in dungeon exploring and battle system.
Nice chunky sound effects and immersive soundtrack.
Well worth playing for a second time.
10/10 Final Score (Not an overall):
Well worth the money for this unique masterpiece of a game.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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