Valkyrie Profile -Silmeria-
has been a long time coming. Its literal prequel and sequel in continuity, Valkyrie Profile
, has long been hailed as a cult classic, placing a simple battle system on a frame of strong character design and an epic story. Odin was greatly satisfied and fans have been clamoring for a sequel ever since.
However, with the single-game limitations of development studio tri-Ace, it has taken over half a decade for them to weave the story of another Valkyrie. Valkyrie Profile -Silmeria-
showcases a grand world tied together by amazing artistic direction, excellent dungeon design, a fluid battle system, and a story driven by strong characters and typically epic circumstances.
Gone are the conventions of Ragnarok, replaced with the story of a girl named Alicia. This princess of Dipan was born carrying the next incarnation of the Valkyrie Silmeria within her body. Exiled and confined for bearing this curse, she and Silmeria escape to confront the king of Dipan in his schemes to secure the world-sustaining Dragon Orb and declare war on the gods. What begins as a categorical RPG journey soon spirals into shocking plot twists, heavenly battles, and a betrayal severe enough to shake the whole of Asgard. Admittedly, certain pacing issues arise and this is common tri-Ace fare; heavy on the plot at the beginning and end. Thankfully, no ridiculous twists on the scale of Star Ocean: Till the End of Time were executed. This solitary complaint aside, Silmeria’s plot performs nicely among other similar titles.
The retrospective result is indeed delightful, especially as familiar Valkyrie Profile
faces make a return as playable characters and are fleshed out to an unprecedented degree. Though the dialogue may begin stilted and the scenario construction a bit trite, they soon produce a dynamic cast that, set in front of a vibrant and visually interesting environment, return the player to a feeling of involvement and emotion. For its artistic qualities, the title maintains a position high above many contemporary or recent releases.
Environments are stunning, with real-time wind and light effects—possible and taken to a beautiful presentation using the title’s literally two-dimensional gameplay. Old Valkyrie Profile locations are resurrected and given a new vision, capturing their former charms and bringing them into a more realistic perspective. Everything about the title looks stunning and pushes the Playstation 2 to its graphical limits: tri-Ace ought to be applauded for its achievements.
Dungeon design is interesting and impressive, replacing the pseudo-prequel’s ice crystal play with photons that allow for exchanging positions with enemies and the resulting puzzles which arise from this system. These puzzles are both reasonable and great fun to crack. Two-dimensional movement still works impressively and dungeon maps are woven together to look seamless despite this obvious movement restriction.
I bet getting shot in the face hurts.
Battle, meanwhile, has expanded to a three-dimensional field while retaining character button assignments and super moves, enabling a dash at AP expense. Added to this a skill system which depends on the arrangement and “color” of equipped items and the ability to sever enemy parts for accessories and item creation creates a micro-reward system that nearly eliminates tedium from combat. In effect, this renders Valkyrie Profile 2
’s core gameplay strong and supports the rest of the title very affluently.
Einherjar return yet again, this time as warriors and mages found already-deceased in dungeons, ready to be materialized to fight and then released when the time is right for stat bonuses. Unlike the previous title, they receive little to no backdrop, but the focus of the story is acutely focused on its permanent cast, turning them into little more than faceless helpers. Keeping them or leveling them past their intended release level will yield greater rewards, as will power leveling main characters, some of whom may leave the party. Tri-Ace has created a system which rewards the player for every effort he or she makes: the completist will find map discovery and treasure totals tallied by the game, a difficult bonus dungeon upon story completion, and increased difficulty upon subsequent playthroughs. Every action, even if it is as menial as purchasing items at a shop, has some effect or enabling reward.
As a side note, Motoi Sakuraba
has produced another impressive soundtrack which layers subtlety and mood upon each game area, from humble villages to cataclysmic locations on high. Standard fare—nothing revolutionary but relatively high-quality.
Clocking it at around 40 hours, Valkyrie Profile -Silmeria-
delivers an adventure that is of the highest caliber and a definite must-own for any RPG fan. The game looks gorgeous and is crafted with tri-Ace’s famed attention to detail. As one of the best titles to come out in recent times, it is certainly worth a look. Odin is pleased.