Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
Tri-Ace's beloved RPG series wises from its gwave.
Preview by (Email)
May 18th 2006
The Basics: Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria comes from the Enix side of the Square Enix partnership, a sequel to the cult hit on the original PlayStation that depicted the struggles of an angelic Valkyrie trying to raise a holy army from fallen humans on earth. The new game for PlayStation 2 is actually a prequel, and follows the adventures of an earlier Valkyrie—that'd be Silmeria.
The first big difference you notice about the game is that it no longer sports the 2D hand drawn sprites and backgrounds of the original. The "2.5D" movement is still intact, but now the towns, overworlds, and dungeons are fleshed out in full polygons. The towns are not very large, but there is a nice depth of field to the backgrounds that gives them the impression of size beyond the playable area.
The first battle area is the Lost Forest, and as in the original, there are no random encounters in Valkyrie Profile 2. There are several aspects of the battle engine that make combat more dynamic than your typical RPG. If you break a piece of armor or a limb off of your enemy, you enter Break Mode, which allows your party to rack up combos and quickly defeat the opponent. The party can be divided up with the digital pad in order to attack from multiple sides and the attack range of the enemy and the "retreat zone" is clearly marked on the ground in red and yellow, respectively. This helps keep you aware of when you are within harm's reach, and when you can flee a battle at a moment's notice if it's not going your way.
If you manage to kill the ringleader of a group of foes, you score a "direct assault" and dispatch the rest of your foes instantly. Of course, it's impossible to tell who the ringleader is just by looking at him, so it adds an element of luck to whom you decide to attack first within a group. Unlike the first game, Valkyries can fall during battle and the rest of your party is allowed to keep on fighting, instead of dying if she wasn't resurrected within three turns. Finally, Valkyries can use a photon action system to teleport, freeze enemies, and exchange places with them on the overworld screen. This new photon ability is key to many of the game's puzzles.
What we think: Valkyrie Profile 2 is looking like a solid sequel for fans of the first game, preserving what was fun about the original's gameplay while adding enough new wrinkles to take things to the next level. Many questions about the plot left unanswered will be revealed in this prequel. The move to a full polygonal approach may disappoint those who loved the charm of the beautifully detailed sprites of the original, and I have to admit I found that approach more aesthetically pleasing, even though the sequel looks fine in its own right. Then again, there's always the upcoming PSP remake, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, for those who prefer the first game's look—or who missed it on PSOne and don't want to pay eBay prices!