previews\ Jun 28, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth - PSP - Preview 2

Ragnarok was also known as Doom of the Gods, and was the word used to describe the end of the cosmos in Norse mythology.

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, a Square Enix title for the PlayStation Portable, begins on the eve of Ragnarok, and the battle between the Aesir and Vanir. The death goddess, a valkyrie known as Lenneth is sent by Odin to the land below Asgard, to find mortals worth of becoming Einherjar, allies in the upcoming battle.

This role-playing title requires a bit of initial patience on the part of the gamer. For the first 30 minutes or so, there is little that players can do aside from one or two quick battles and scrolling through a myriad of conversation screens. And the conversations and plot points are rather obscure or confusing during this all. You meet different people who exhibit some psychosis within personalities and sputter out dialogue that makes little sense (like due to the translation) like “I thank you from the bottom of the gaping void in my soul.”

But persevere and you will get into the meat of the game, which is rather nicely rendered and has some real depth.

Lenneth is, as mentioned, out to find mortals who can serve as allies in the coming war. She meets two and for the initial levels, she is joined by two of them and Freya (another Asgard resident). Once the party is formed, the fun begins.

The game has some typical Japanese RPG elements, as in you see a monster, and run into it to port to a battle screen. The game bypasses the tile-based mapboard, but sports turn-based battles, with players capable of moving their party into formations, performing multiple combo attacks and perhaps having to sit out a round in the battle to recharge skills. Experience points are earned and determining where to place points is truly what makes this game a cerebral exercise. There are four skill areas – reaction, support, attack and status (the latter has 14 skills in which you can allocate points, with some of them being team-based).

As for game length, the title is divided into periods, and a set amount of periods equals a chapter. There are eight chapters in total. And more than just a wander through a wilderness and battle mobs, the game – which is story driven – has puzzles within the game. You may have to fly to a destination, and then move down into a dungeon. Going down into the depths of the dungeon may be easy, but the trick may be in moving back up to the exit.

The controls of the game are not all that tough to learn to use and this without a manual. The sound, though, leaves something to be desired. Part of it is the translation, no doubt, but the flip-flopping personalities create a bit of a problem in the voice-acting department.

Graphically, though, the game is a bit of old-school RPG – with character faces coming in from the side to underscore the typed chat – and a few cutscenes that are very well done.

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth takes a bit to get going, but once it does, the RPG elements provide a strong and thoughtful game experience.

This title is slated to release in mid-July.

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