It's surprising how over the years the name Valkyrie Profile was passed down in conversations more times because of ludicrous eBay auctions than over actual experiences or nostalgic moments with said game. With just cause too, because with hardly 80,000 copies having been shipped, it became a rarity in a New York minute. Luckily, it was recently ported to the PSP to give those who missed out the first time in 2000 a second chance to the story of Lenneth.
But the tale of the three Valkyries clearly has more than one side to tell, and Lenneth is not even the first tale in the series. The announcement of Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria not only came out of nowhere, but threw a curve ball at fans by stating that it will take place hundreds of years before the events from the original PSX game. And creating prequels several years after the original game was released is very tricky. Developers have to take the initiative to preserve everything that made the original so enjoyable, while updating it at the same time and keeping solid links in between both game's plotlines and character developments.
After some rather unpleasant events with Odin, the Valkyrie Goddess Silmeria was punished by having her soul locked in a mortal cage of flesh, most notably the princess of Dipans; Alicia. However, the transmigration caused Silmeria to awaken and now both Alicia and her soul coexist in one body, each fighting for voice and supremacy and from there on in spawns an ongoing chain of events between gods and demons alike. Unsurprisingly though, the prequel doesn't prove to have the most enchanting of stories. To be honest, the story is pretty much lame until midpoint. Which is a rather bizarre change in the series since the first game has been critiqued for its very stretched out Shakesperian scenarios. Trekking in the sky from townskeep to townskeep searching for more tragic stories don't take place in Silmeria. Fallen party members can be recruited by sucking the souls out of their deserted weapons found in dungeons.
As in the first game, they can be freed, only this time they really are free, and not sent to warfare under Freya's command. Just unlocking Einherjar this time around isn't all that worth it, though. Putting aside the primary and secondary characters of the game's storyline, just about every Einherjar you can find in castles and caves feel like cannon fodder. Even to those who haven't played Lenneth, it will become strikingly obvious and strange that you can find a dead guy with a bow at just about every corner. So while there are many recruitable characters in Silmeria, none of them are very memorable or even worth using since the main characters more than suffice to play to go through the entire game.
Thankfully, some changes actually turned out for the better with the light expansion of the series' popular battle system. Characters are still assigned in the PS2's diamond button formation, but are set in a field plagued with enemies instead of a 2D linear presentation. 99.9% of the encounters have enemy leaders, which if struck first cause a Direct Assault, awarding bonus experience and ending the match immediately. It's a pretty interesting spin on the original battle system, since this concept adds another level of strategy. And since every new dungeon's battle field features exponentially more convoluted, corridor plagued, pillar-infested fields, things get hard quick. You'll often grow impatient and blitz through most of the lesser enemies, to kill the leaders off quicker. If you're discontent keeping your fighters in one normal diamond strand, you can split them up into two teams, covering enemies twice as fast or at least a single one from both sides. Party can also collectively dash with the R1 button, at times proving to be more strenuous than helpful (since you'll usually dash to avoid walls, enemies, corners, etc), and end up stuck behind one instead. It's incredibly annoying, especially during hectic boss battles, but you can work your way around it, so it doesn't become as big of a nuisance as you'd think. On the bright side, there's no such thing as Charge Time anymore, so sorcerers and sorceresses alike can repeatedly wail Cool/Frigid Damsel until the undead come home.
So it plays well, but does it sound great? Rightfully so. No one in their right mind could deny the greatness of Valkyrie Profile's battle theme (Fighting of the Shadowy Gods), which is likely one of the good reasons Motoi Sakuraba was on the job for Silmeria's score. And yes, the newer themes are almost as good as the first and manage to not grow repetitive during the 40 hour course of the game.
Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria is an end product that already at face value, decimates nearly every other RPG on the PS2 released so far. It's the classic Square game all over again. High production values, great attention to visual detail, soundtrack and pacing and even if it might have a pretty light story that doesn't necessarily go anywhere, the game is fun and replayable. Also, with each New Game + turning the bout exponentially harder, Silmeria is an excellent title worthy of any real RPG aficionado and surely one of this Fall's greatest and most heavenly delights.