Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth
In Norse mythology the Valkyries, who served Odin, selected heroes who died on the battlefield, dragging their sorry souls off to Valhalla and ordaining them as Einherjar: warriors who stood by Odin’s side and formed his army of the dead in preparation for Ragnarok, the final battle at the end of the world. It’s doubtful many PSP gamers would know this, and we guess this is the reason for the solid half hour of button tapping through the introductory cinematics and tediously slow text. Yup, we have to admit that wasn’t a good start, especially as we weren’t enamored with the idea of a seven-year-old port revived for the PSP. But if you, like us, find the first hour of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth a struggle, give it a chance as there’s an unusual and interesting title beneath the trite and heavy plot.
Its graphical approach stands out in the crowd, not just because of the stylised artwork, but also because almost all of its locations are entirely 2D. This also means that dungeons play a lot like a platform game, using ladders and Lenneth’s crystals to access new areas. It’s an unusual perspective to play from for a relatively modern RPG, especially when the turn-based battles could easily be mistaken for a scene from one of the Final Fantasy games, yet most encounters can be avoided by leaping over the top of an oncoming enemy.
But the most original part of Valkyrie Profile is its structure and the way it adheres strictly to its timeline. Your goal as a Valkyrie is to recruit as many fallen warrior heroes as possible to Odin’s cause… and there’s no time to idle either, as there are only eight days until Ragnarok. Each day is comprised of 24 periods, and a single period is consumed with every major action, such as visiting a town or dungeon. Using your spiritual concentration, you can detect fallen heroes to be recruited and pockets of evil energy, representing a dungeon. Theoretically, you could simply kick back and skip every period, leaving Odin to the mercy of Loki and his minions.
Valkyrie Profile is far from newbie-friendly however, and we blindly fumbled our way through the first dozen periods worth of trial and error, figuring our battle tactics, item manipulation and investigating empty towns before realising how everything worked. But having persevered for a couple of hours, we soon began to reap the fruits of a game that sidesteps the morass of generic role-playing games and rewarded us with a surprisingly fresh and addictive experience – a title well worth resurrecting.