Game Review: Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (PSP)
Platform: PSP Published: Square Enix Developed: Tri Ace Genre: RPG
Battle system is unique and fun to master
Platform game play is a refreshing mechanic that makes for fun dungeon exploration
Chapters in game restrict exploration
Loading time in PSP can be frustrating, it helps to have a PSP-2000 or after.
No real way of getting the real ending without a guide
The combination of RPG elements with platforming is a great new way to have players explore while not in combat
Combat system is both turn based and in real time, making more interesting the other RPGs
While Valkyrie Profile has some design flaws, such as not giving the player a realistic way of getting the real ending, it has shown a new way of playing RPGs. The storyline for the main characters and side characters are well presented and interesting.
Publish by Square Enix and developed by Tri-Ace, Valkyrie Profile Lenneth is a port from its sleeper hit PlayStation One version. This game comes with new CG cut scenes that replace the older animated scenes to better tell this epic Norse war between the gods. Lenneth is a Valkyrie, a warrior maiden and goddess with the ability to hear the thoughts and wishes of fallen warriors during their final moments. Lenneth's duty, given by the goddess of beauty Freya, is to travel to Midgard, the world of humans, to recruit and train souls of mighty warriors to join the Aesir, Odin's forces, in the Sacred War called Ragnarok.
The player assumes the role of Lenneth in this side scrolling/RPG game. The game begins by showing the player a bit of background story to get started. After that, the player is thrown into a "tutorial" type dungeon where most of the game mechanics are shown. When the player is exploring a dungeon, the game plays like a side scrolling platform game with some puzzles, reminiscent of Castlevania. Lenneth has the ability to jump, swing her sword, and to freeze objects, enemies, or create ice blocks. The ice block can become bigger until it shatters and then can be used as a floating platform.
The RPG elements kick in when confronting enemies. Unlike most other Japanese RPGs, where enemy battles occur randomly, Valkyrie Profile shows the enemies on the screen. If the player strikes the enemy then the battle begins as usual, otherwise when the player is hit by the enemy or runs into them, the player starts the battle with a disadvantage. The battle system is both turn based and real time. The player takes turns between themselves and the AI. During the player's turn, they press the button that corresponds to the character they want to attack with. Once they attack, the player can begin a barrage of attacks against the enemy. If the assault results into a 100 percent combo then the player can use the Finishing Strike move. A Finishing Strike is a stronger attack and unique to that character. The game also has a magic system for the mages. The formation of the party consists of three characters in the front that can attack at any moment and a fourth character in the back that can only attack if it is an archer or a mage.
When the player is in the over world map, Lenneth can "fly" around to any destination available. At the beginning of the game, the number of locations the player can land on are very limited, but when the player "listens" for the dead, more locations are revealed. This allows the player to either procure a new soul for the party, or reveal a new dungeon. The game's story is broken up into 8 chapters, and limits the player on how many times they can roam around the world by giving them periods. Visiting towns cost one period, while story line and dungeons cost two periods. Every chapter, Lenneth get orders from Freya of what kind of warriors Odin needs to win the war.
Valkyrie Profile's game mechanics were very interesting. The platform aspect of the game was something I had not seen in recent RPGs of its kind. Most 2D RPGs are top down, like Final Fantasy or Chrono Trigger, but this one was made into a 2D platform game with the ability to freeze objects. This provides unique ways to puzzle solving. The battle system is also fairly unique that tries to be both accessible to seasoned RPG players and to be innovative at the same time. It does this by having the turn based system that most RPG players have seen but also having a real time element with the combos. The storyline in Valkyrie Profile is also meant to get the players to care for the characters. This is very successful, especially when you learn how and why the fallen warriors have died. Because of the game's ability to roam freely through the world, it has three different endings. The C ending means that the player failed to procure the souls ordered by Freya. The B ending is the one the player gets for doing everything exactly as Freya ordered. However the A ending, which is considered the true ending, is the secret ending that involves uncovering the truth about Lenneth's past.
While the game's positive features far outweigh its negative ones, there are a few in the game that could have been dealt with. One of the most obvious ones has to do with the port from the PlayStation to the PSP and that is the loading times when the player pauses. This made me think twice before pausing the game, since it would take around three seconds for each time. Note that this use to happen with the PSP-1000 series, with the 2000 and 3000 this issue is negligible due to the increase in RAM. Some of the localization of the game is off, for example during the Finishing Strike move a caption comes up saying "Purify Weird Soul" which sounds odd, it seems that they might of wanted to say something along the lines of "Purify Demon Soul".
In terms of voice acting, with the exception of Lenneth and one or two characters, is below average. Another issue with the game is the period system that regulates how many times the player can go during a chapter. While it might have been meant as a means to prevent the player of leveling up too much, this restricts the player on how to move in the over world and prevents them from exploring the game. The last issue is the lack of guidance the game gives you to get the A ending, so unless the player consults some game guide, this ending, which is considered to be the true ending is virtually inaccessible.
The music in the game is not the best but does have a few memorable ones. Aside from these few issues, Valkyrie Profile Lenneth is a refreshingly innovative RPG game that was lost by many during its PlayStation version, but now that it is available on PSP, it is a game worthy of any PSP collection.