Cidolfas's RPG Reviews: Valkyrie Profile (PSX)
You Are: Lenneth Valkyrie, spiritual battle maiden and servant of Lord Odin of Valhalla.
Your Goal Is: To find souls (Einherjar) worthy of fighting for the Aesir in Valhalla in their war agains the Vanir.
General System: VP is unlike any other RPG out there. There are eight chapters; each chapter brings you closer to Ragnarok. You can fly around the map and enter villages and dungeons, but each time you enter you use up some of your valuable time (of which you have a limited amount per chapter). Once in the dungeons, there's quite a bit of action as you jump around, slash enemies to get a head start on battles, shoot crystals for climbing on, etc. There are no shops; you create items via "Materialize Points" in the menu on save points or in the world map. You get more MP after each chapter, or by "selling" items you already have. You can also transmute items into new ones.
Then there are all the other menu things... each character (there are over 20) can learn skills as well as level up their "traits". Skills and traits both affect their Hero Level (skills also affect battle). Valhalla is looking for specific qualities in their Einherjar, so the souls you send up each chapter are supposed to meet predetermined skill/trait/experience requirements; the better you meet those requirements, the better rewards you'll get. You can also gain "Event Experience", which lets you give experience even to characters who haven't actually done any fighting. Oh... and, like in the Star Ocean games, there's an incredibly challenging secret dungeon which becomes available after you finish the game.
Battle System: Very action-based. Battle is divided into player and enemy phases, which switch off. Each of your four characters is assigned a button. The real goal is to have a big huge combo (each character can attack up to three times). Magicians can also use spells to add to combos. Once the combo meter builds up, your characters can do a super-attack. However, spells and super attacks both give you Charge Points; CP goes down by 1 each round, but while you still have some you can't use items or cast spells/do super attacks. It's a real rush and the tougher battles need expert hands.
Graphics: Large characters and clear but detailed backgrounds. It's all 2D, but it's very nice.
Music: Sometimes can be grating, but there are quite a few great tracks.
Story: Very interesting... the overarching Norse mythology is a neat change from regular RPGs. There's no real linear goal, though, so if you want continuity you may be a bit bored. Instead, you'll find a whole bunch of self-contained vignettes when you enter particular spots during particular chapters; usually at the end someone dies, and you then take him/her to be an Einherjar. Because you can only enter a certain number of places per chapter, sometimes you have to leave off certain events till later (the later chapters have much fewer scripted events to allow you to catch up to dungeons etc.). It makes the endings a bit weak, though.
Challenge: Varies (there are three difficulty levels, of which "Normal" is probably easiest, actually)
Length: About 40 hours
My Thoughts: You really need to try this one out. 8-) It's definitely not your run-of-the-mill RPG. It's a lot more open-ended, but not in the "my-god-what-do-I-do-now" way of some games, like the SaGa series. You have a lot more options, and you can play the game many different ways. The voice acting is generally pretty good, though it can get on your nerves if you use the same characters too much. Speaking of characters, there are a hell of a lot of them. 8p Unfortunately, that means that each specific character gets almost no depth and, in fact, a lot of them are pretty alike. Story is a big drain on the game (the translation is a bit amateurish, too). But the gameplay is so neat you should really be giving it a try.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10