VALHALLA KNIGHTS - PSP - Preview
Sony’s PSP is finally seeing a decent amount of role-playing games and, if you’re like me, this is a fact that’s something to cheer about in a handheld that’s already filled with action and sports titles. Still, many of the RPGs that are already out there haven’t really made an impact on fans of the genre … unless you count the excellent Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, of course. Now comes Valhalla Knights from XSEED Games, an RPG with a lot to offer fans who like their role-playing games deep and different.
So what exactly does Valhalla Knights do differently from other role-playing games already available for the PSP? Well, for one thing, the game allows you to have direct control over the role your character plays during the game. If you would like to make your character female rather than a male, you can do it/ You can even pick from five different races (Human, Dwarf, Halfling, Elf or even a mech-like machine) and different job classes (like thief, fighter, mage, knight or priest). You can customize your character the way you see fit, including changing their appearance by decking them out in light or heavy armor. Better yet, you can even do this for party members you choose to have join you on your quest.
The game’s story revolves around a mythical land where the peace that has reined over the realm is tossed into chaos again with the return of the Dark Lord. Having once threatened the land and the many good races that have banded together to stop him, the Dark Lord was sealed away by a hero named Rastul. Unfortunately, the Dark Lord’s demon minions have caused enough damage to curse the very land and people. Then hope comes in the form of you as your character awakes from a mysterious slumber. Stricken by amnesia, a voice calls to you and tells you that you are the direct bloodline of Rastul and thus you can save the realm from the coming of the Dark Lord.
This is some heavy stuff to say the least and with a story that starts off a bit confusing and grows into a complex but fascinatingly epic tale, Valhalla Knights makes you feel like you’re embarking on a major quest with lots of dungeon-crawling in-between. There’s also plenty of action; in fact, the game begins with a huge battle where you take control of the legendary Rastul as his party of fellow adventurers battle a massive dragon. Battles in the game are handled in real-time, meaning you can run around during battles and attack any enemy you’d like without waiting for your turn. The other pleasant surprise is that you can switch between your party members (imagine six characters on the screen at once!) and your main character on the fly so you can make use of each character’s weapon or magic skills.
Team management is another aspect of the game that adds flavor to combat. Since you have direct control of your characters, you can mix characters with job classes you’ll need throughout the game. A priest, for example, is necessary since priests are known to cast powerful healing spells. A Mage is also great to have in case you run into powerful enemies that are resistant to physical blows. In fact, the game even allows your main character to change job classes and even add secondary job classes to give you a taste of what it’s like to be a fighter but also a thief or a priest.
The copy of the game I received also included wireless multiplayer that allows you and a friend to tackle on the quest as a co-op game or go head-to-head in a 2-player Versus Mode. One of them many cool parts about the multiplayer mode is that any gold earned during the Ad-Hoc play is carried over to be used during the single-player mode. While I wasn’t able to play the multiplayer game, it’s sure to be a great way of defeating the much bigger enemies in the game. Trust me when I say that you’ll be up against hordes during battle or even giants that seem to fill the screen. You’ll be thankful that you can run away during battles or use special attacks that give you an edge. Avoiding enemies is also an option since you can sneak past unsuspecting enemies.
Visually, the game is also really good to look at as well and the game’s soundtrack adds enough dramatic effect. Nearly everything about this game stands out, including many of the characters (although some towns you’ll run into a large number of “clones” along the way). Still, it’s hard to complain when the environments are nicely detailed, as are the monsters you’ll encounter during battle.
Unfortunately, the game does have a few issues I had problems with including the camera that can often obscure your character’s line of sight. You’ll actually be glad the game included a Metal Gear Solid-like mini-map with your enemies’ positions and their line of sight. Sometimes the controls can even be a bit awkward, but then again these are small gripes compared to things this game has to offer. You can come to expect plenty of side quests (likes the ones you receive in the guilds) and the quests lead you to far of places. The demo I played took me past an abandoned and creepy old prison and I found myself fighting through a spooky forest on my way to a fort. All the while, you’ll meet various characters and participate in a number of battles.
From the looks of things, Valhalla Knights is looking to be a more than decent RPG that has enough depth to make this a game fans of the genre should not miss. With customizable characters, fun real-time battles, enough locales to explore and plenty of quests to complete, this is sure to please fans looking for another decent portable role-playing game.
Look for Valhalla Knights this coming March but you can find my review of the game right here.