Square Enix Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
You won't need to pawn your internal organs to get a good roleplaying experience.
- Story, depth to combat
- Long-winded cut-scenes
Not everyone's going to love the transplanted platform puzzler elements, and RPG purists might be turned off by the wafer-thin town exploration, but just discovering the way your different options fit together is so endlessly absorbing that even wildly divergent tastes will agree that Valkyrie Profile 2 is yummy indeed.
Price$ 29.95 (AUD)
The PlayStation 2 has always been a haven for RPG lovers, and though the release of the system's successor is imminent, new entries like Valkyrie Profile 2 remind that you won't need to pawn your internal organs to get a good roleplaying experience.
Norse of a Different Color
Like the other titles in the franchise, Valkyrie Profile 2 is steeped heavily in Norse mythology. The titular character Silmeria is imprisoned in the body of Princess Alicia, but the rebellious Valkyrie refuses to remain dormant, and Odin sends Hrist to retrieve her. The story is littered with secrets and betrayals and will easily hold your attention.
Unfortunately, the game's innumerable cut-scenes, though admittedly nice to look at, are long-winded and filled with awkward dialogue sequences, a likely by-product of the translation process. The frequency and duration of the cinematic interludes can also sidetrack players from the action. Thankfully, the actual gameplay makes up for the story-telling deficiencies.
The basic mechanics of fighting are simple, with only one attack button for each character, but interesting additions lend a considerable degree of depth to what could have otherwise been a mindless button mashing exercise. Every group of baddies has a leader, indicated on the overhead radar, and killing him automatically wins the conflict.
Walls and other bits of scenery can crumble, revealing enemy reinforcements at inopportune moments. Your squad of four can be broken up into flanking groups to distract and destroy stronger opponents, and some weapons possess devastating special attacks.
Even just preparing for battle can take some thought, since equipment is assigned a colour type and rune, and linking pieces together enhances performance and unlocks new skills. Most of the challenging fights are against bosses, but working to get the most from your available goodies is surprisingly alluring, given that there is a ton of potential to unlock hidden power. Even merchants get friendlier the more work you throw their way, eventually crafting otherwise useless items into powerful gear.
There's plenty more for you to discover, from sealstones that hold sway over parties and environments alike, to powerful spirits that can be levelled and equipped like normal party members, or "freed" to leave behind stat-enhancing crystals.
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