Valkyrie Profile - Retroview

Come to me dark warriors, battle awaits us!
By: Solon

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 8
   Music & Sound 9
   Originality 9
   Story & Plot 9
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 7
   Visuals 10
   Difficulty Moderate
   Completion Time 10-40 Hours  

Hold on, I'll summon my army of angels
Hold on, I'll summon my army of angels
Valkyrie Profile

   Over here in Sweden where I live, Norse Mythology is something everybody is familiar with. Although Valkyrie Profile was never released in Europe, those who imported it had themselves a wonderful experience, mostly because some of the parts in this game gives us a whole new picture of the mythology itself. As the plot thickens and Ragnarok draws nearer, the game proves to be one of the coolest ever made.

   The plot in Valkyrie Profile is, as I said, based on Norse mythology. You play the role of a Valkyrie sent to earth by Lord Odin (a sidenote: it's "Oden" over here, and why does his horse have 6 legs in Final Fantasy, when he is supposed to have 8?) to collect the souls of the dead to have them battle in the great war, also called Ragnarok (the end of the world).

   Aside from this, the plot also involves a lot of the Valkyrie's past. Who is she? How did she become a Valkyrie? You actually have the option to focus on either one of these aspects (either the war, or the mystery about the Valkyrie), making the game worth playing at least twice. Also, I must give out a little warning. Some of the scenes in this game are very, very sad and depressive. You might reconsider buying this game if you are a sensitive person. I mean it.

   Battles in Valkyrie Profile are beautiful. I mean it, they are really outstanding. You control up to 4 characters in battle, and each one is being controlled by each button on the PSX controller. For example, if you hit the triangle button, the character assigned to that button will release an attack. Depending on what equipment you use, the characters can attack up to 3 times (making it a really cool combo) in one turn, by pressing "their" button 3 times. I know this description sounds really strange, but you'll understand it right away when you play the game.

It's so pretty, even though it's 2D
It's so pretty, even though it's 2D

   If you like, you can press all of the buttons at once, and everyone attacks furiously making it look like you've just created your own Omnislash. This is actually recommended. When all characters attack at the same time, the "over attack" gauge goes up. What is that, you ask? You guessed it, the key to special attacks.

   When the gauge is at 100, the characters that were active in the attack now have the ability to do one special attack each. Each character (and there are a lot of them) has one unique individual (and beautiful) special attack...which brings us to the graphics in this game. Wow, this really stands out as the PlayStation game with the most detailed character design I have ever seen. Everything is smooth and fast, especially in battle.

   While the world map was quite dull and almost not detailed at all, the dungeons and towns were all highly detailed, making it worth getting lost in a dungeon or two, just so that you could enjoy the backgrounds some more. The interface was also one of the better ones I've seen. While the appearance might not have been the best thing about it, everything was easy to understand and simple to master.

   I'm not saying that just because the menus and overall system is hard to understand it has to be bad, just that I prefer a simple way to organize items, equip and related stuff. Also, one of the things I liked the most was the controls. The way Valkyrie runs through dungeons and towns kind of reminded me a little of Megaman, especially with all the jumping. While monsters can be seen when running around in dungeons (just like in the Chrono games), Valkyrie has the ability to hit them with her sword to prevent back attacks.

   What more makes a game worth the money? It's the music and sound, of course. The music, composed by Motoi Sakuraba is spectacular. I have never heard a soundtrack even close to this one; all the tracks are unique and very different from the music in other RPGs.

Valkyrie on a rampage
Valkyrie on a rampage

   Also, I'm gonna give it a little bonus for bringing some tracks from Star Ocean 2 into this game as well. The theme played in the Seraphic Gate brought back many memories from the Cave of Trials. Ah, the nostalgia. Sound Effects were wonderful as well. The sound of valkyrie's sword ripping through enemies, the explosions from the different spells, and the screams in battle. There's no limit of this.

   Another thing that sounded good in my ears was the voices. The voice-actors are some of the best ever, especially the one doing the voice of Valkyrie. In the beginning, I thought she sounded a little too...what do you call it...stiff? But later on, I loved her voice more than any other in the game. To be honest, I didn't find one single spelling error in this game, but of course I know they were there. Perhaps I didn't want to see them, as everything else is so good in this game.

   The game is also balanced, and you can choose to play in easy, normal or hard mode. However, if you choose to play in easy or normal mode, you can only access the B and C endings. Also, in hard mode there are a lot more plot events, more dungeons and the A ending. I played on Normal on the first run, and then finished off the game on hard mode doing everything I could, including getting the A ending and finishing off the Seraphic Gate 10 times to get the best sword.

   If you've read this far, you probably have realized that this is not your typical RPG. It's very original, in all kinds of ways. The battles, the dungeons (all built up in 2D, Castlevania-style) and the plot is very unique, and I have never seen anything like this in any other RPG. As for the replay value, this game can be finished at least twice to get the A and B ending. The C ending is pathetic, and I don't even consider it an ending, but that's up to you to decide.

   Also, there is a hidden dungeon which I mentioned before; the Seraphic Gate. This is a long dungeon with a few tough bosses, only dedicated to leveling up and boosting your party. The Seraphic Gate doesn't have any connection to the plot in Valkyrie Profile, but there are some familiar faces in there, both from Valkyrie Profile and Star Ocean 2, so you might consider playing through it at least once to see what I mean. It's worth it.Considering that most of the parts in Valkyrie Profile are optional, the game can be completed in 10 hours. However, this will make the final dungeon very, very hard, and I don't recommend you doing this. If you find most of the characters and clear all of the dungeons you will reach the end at about 20-25 hours at least. If you play on hard, it will take at least 30 hours to finish.

   There are few games that have that special feeling... the feeling that makes you want to just slip away and wish you actually were in the game, leaving all your problems in real life behind. Valkyrie Profile is one of them, or at least it was for me.

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