Well it is my favorite game of all time and yet nobody talks about it. Valkyrie Profile 2 was shadowed by its predecessor in every single possible way and was considered a “massive disappointment” by many fans of the first game. I’ve never seen a game that has been nitpicked so much as this game.
It’s a game that literally did no wrong. Seriously just picking out flaws in this game alone is like finding a needle in a haystack and yes there are flaws there but they do not hinder the game’s experience in any way.
So what did the game do to make people dislike it? Well for starters, Valkyrie Profile was a very good game… I say that loosely considering the fact that it was a hugely flawed game, an acquired taste you could say but the flaws in that game stuck out like a sore thumb. Nevertheless, Valkyrie Profile managed to gain a cult following who appreciated the games design choices for its originality and also appreciating the emotional impacts and deep undertones that made the game feel unlike any other.
Valkyrie Profile was unique and to see it become a traditional JRPG was ludicrous. People refused to accept that an 18-year-old midget princess with social disorders replaced the almost stereotypical stoic goddess that was Lenneth but if you look back at Lenneth, as cool as she was, her stoic disposition really took a toll on her character as a whole and her development arc was blatantly forced. I just think the game was rushed by the end… but then again even Valkyrie Profile 2 suffered a similar fate by the end though looking back, I found that Valkyrie Profile 2’s story as a whole was better structured and was better executed than it’s predecessor.
At first sight, it’s understandable how someone can detest the idea of Alicia being the main character. She appears to be a stereotypical bimbo at the start of the game which is ironic considering the fact that I found her alter ego to fit that category far better in the long run. Over time however, things began to make sense and I did start appreciating Alicia as the main lead and became to understand the developers reasoning behind this choice, it was all about perspective and that’s what led to the biggest change Valkyrie Profile 2 made, the fact that it followed a more generic narrative structure but despite popular belief, this change was completely vital.
Lets face it, Valkyrie Profile was an unpolished masterpiece. Horribly unpolished might I add. Had the developers put more TLC into the game’s execution, it could have become the masterpiece that was Valkyrie Profile 2 but it didn’t and remained nothing more than a cult hit. Valkyrie Profile 2 barely got together a cult following but nowhere near the same level as Valkyrie Profile. People who hated Valkyrie Profile avoided it and people who loved it… also avoided it… it was an inevitable flop that went down with a huge bang that no one ever saw. Basically Valkyrie Profile 2 is the most underappreciated Video game ever made.
Now as someone who disliked the direction the first Valkyrie Profile took, I played a few more tri-Ace games and realized that they were by the same people who did Valkyrie Profile. So surely I should give the series another chance and I picked up Valkyrie Profile 2 on a whim. It could have been another horrible experience but I had a small glimmer of hope that they changed it and thank god they did.
“Valkyrie Profile 2 is the most underappreciated Video game ever made”
Gone was the open-ended story line concept which ironically sucked just as much ass as Big Rigs Over The Road Racing, Gone was the ever punishing period system which punished player choice and exploration and in with the old school narrative structure we all know and love. Vanilla storytelling has never been so bliss and to be honest, it was quite refreshing seeing the Valkyrie Profile series story line told in this new direction. You got to actually experience the story line directly as opposed to just watching some random scene which holds no relevance to the plot whatsoever only to be thrown into the next dungeon, rinse and repeat. It was a horrible… seemingly repetitive formula which bogged the first game down.
Valkyrie Profile 2’s traditional approach may not have been perfect though. Early on in the game, you are presented with quite possibly the worst macguffin trope ever conceived to man and I honestly don’t mind macguffin tropes so long as they don’t take up too much time and aren’t too predictable. It’s easy to just sit there and just say “this game is boring, give me a better plot” but as bad as it was, it didn’t seem to hinder the game’s pacing half as much as Valkyrie Profile’s entire story line and strangely enough, it really didn’t impede on the overall experience. In fact I believe the slow pacing was actually needed. Why? Because it allowed you to take everything in.
That’s right, Valkyrie Profile is the best looking game on the PS2, still holding up today as one of the most aesthetically appealing games ever created. The visuals are crisp and are loaded with glittering particle effects to add that extra sparkle. It’s easy to tell that a considerable amount of effort was put into the game and there are a lot of minute details that are easily missed the first time round. So all in all, the visuals are a step beyond sublimity but the game’s incredible soundtrack just happens to be even better. The two go hand in hand to provide the player with one of the greatest gaming experiences you could possibly imagine.
As I have said before in my review of this game, Valkyrie Profile 2 is a work of art in motion and not just visually but musically as well. If you can appreciate music and visuals, then this might possibly be your dream game and I damn well love some good music and visuals.
Seriously if I listen to the game’s soundtrack on Youtube (which I do way too much) I start to get addicted to listening to it and think to myself “fuck it, I’m going to listen to it all over again from beginning to end” and after listening to it all over again, I realize that I’ve just spent hours simply listening to the same songs over and over again.
Listening to the songs in Valkyrie Profile 2 is just like eating a full bag of Dorito’s, they are just simply moreish, I just can’t get enough of them, they’re like a drug. Captivating is probably the most fitting word to describe Valkyrie Profile 2’s soundtrack. Heck I’ve spent more time listening to the game’s soundtrack than I have actually playing the game. Heck I sometimes even listen to them whilst playing other games, particularly open world RPG’s where they are surprisingly fitting.
“Valkyrie Profile 2 is a work of art in motion”
I’ve come to the conclusion that Valkyrie Profile 2’s soundtrack works with everything and just makes everything better. Seriously you should listen to some of the songs whilst playing Skyrim or something, it will make the experience so much better.
As for the gameplay. It doesn’t disappoint, like the first game, it is a side scrolling RPG, probably one of the biggest reasons why it got overlooked but it’s part of the series charm and couldn’t be ignored, in addition, the visuals more than make up for it. Valkyrie Profile 2 keeps the same style of combat of the first game but expands on it greatly. In battle, you are actually able to roam around a 3d battlefield… oh the irony.
Like the first game, characters are set to face buttons, they are your choice of attacks. Rather than just giving you a set of special attacks for each character, picking one and letting the computer play the rest, Valkyrie Profile 1 and 2 have you playing as all the characters an each character represents a certain move set which can be customized at will in Valkyrie Profile 2 (which was limited in the first game). This is where Valkyrie Profile 2 succeeds where other ARPG’s fail, the ability to be in control of everything on screen at all times. So if you make a mistake it’s your fault.
With that said, Valkyrie Profile 2’s combat takes a while to get used to and can feel quite repetitive at the start but once the training wheels are off and you obtain more characters, the real action starts. Honestly when I replayed the game and just had Alicia and Rufus I felt like the game removed so much. That’s because the combat improves over time but eases you into the basics and you better appreciate that as the game is very deep. Sadly it can put a lot of newcomers off, particularly impatient ones who judge the game at first sight.
A lot of people say that this game is really hard. I honestly had no trouble playing through this game. It’s a very deep game and you really need to pay attention to the tutorials and get the right skills and understand seal stones as this game requires a lot of preparation. Valkyrie Profile 2’s gameplay is all about thinking outside the box. Whilst there is some strategy involved during game play, it matters little if your characters are under equipped, you’re going to get a spanking if you’re not prepared.
Then again, if you do come prepared, you might find the game to be way too easy. This is because Valkyrie Profile 2 is so easily broken, it’s ridiculous. It’s all about knowing how the game works and if you want to play the game the normal way, the difficulty might be difficult. However if you’re into power leveling and gearing then this game can seem be a bit too rewarding.
“This is where Valkyrie Profile 2 succeeds where other ARPG’s fail, the ability to be in control of everything on screen at all times. So if you make a mistake it’s your fault”
There are a lot of ways to play this game and it can seem a little daunting at first but experimentation is key. Valkyrie Profile 2 is all about finding the best playstyle for you and maximizing it to it’s full potential, though it is encouraged to switch on the fly. For this reason, gaining experience matters little in comparison with equipment and skills.
Each character has their own set of attacks and they learn more of them as they level up. Considering the fact that Valkyrie Profile is not a Tales/Star Ocean game, the move selection in battle is limited (and linear) for each character simply due to the fact that you are controlling everyone in the party (though you can learn the scramble attack skill to mix things up). You’re not picking out moves, you’re picking out characters and developing moves from the characters you like in order to enhance them, you can then change up their moves later after you’ve developed them, either that or swap them out for a new character and equip that character with the armaments from the other character to make them just as powerful.
There is a lot of depth provided by this game’s lore. You can collect einherjar by interacting with weapons littered around dungeons and they will fight for you, essentially giving you another character to control in battle. Each character comes with a bio which can only be read in the status screen, some characters relate to one another, it’s funny when you learn that one of the first einherjar you get is one of Alicia’s ancestors. Now this is one of the game’s biggest controversies and what gives the game so much hate. The first game practically revolved around einherjar which are basically warriors risen from the dead to fight for Odin.
In Valkyrie Profile, you can view the death scenes of each character during intervals. This is the game’s story, a series of short stories involving character deaths who will eventually become a member of your party and from that point on, you never see or hear from them again except in battle or the sacred phase (which shows brief conversations with some of them that aren’t really all that big of a deal and so to so you have to remove them from your party) so essentially Valkyrie Profile had absolutely no character interaction with Lenneth and at a certain point you are expected to believe that they have grown attached to her which is total bullshit if you ask me.
Now the second game replaced them with a brief bio and people hated this despite the fact that the einherjar in Valkyrie Profile 2 took a backseat role which to be honest is quite relieving as it allows you to experience a more direct storytelling approach with a bit of character interaction and even though it’s not as deep as other games of the genre, there is some character development to be found here. I do believe the cutscenes do a good enough job, at least enough to motivate the player. People who expect strong character arcs may not find it in Valkyrie Profile 2 (or any JRPG for that matter, go play Warcraft 3 if you want serious storytelling) but it doesn’t make the game any less enjoyable. If you prioritize gameplay and just about everything else over story, then you will adore Valkyrie Profile 2.
Then again, there is a lot of attention to detail when it comes to the einherjar backstories in Valkyrie Profile 2, it’s just a different kind of approach which requires more reading than watching. If you take the time to read all of the character bio’s in the game, you will find out about a lot of events which occurred many years before Valkyrie Profile 2 and it’s quite interesting to say the least. In fact some of the einherjar are connected and will occasionally share a battle quote with each other relating to their backstory which symbolizes that the einherjar, though backseat characters are actually part of the game’s lore. I personally believe that the attention to detail makes up for the lack of einherjar stories, it’s obvious that the developers didn’t rush this design choice, it was just changed to reflect on the game’s storyline.
Ultimately though, the storyline can be enjoyable but it doesn’t strive to be the next Shakespeare. Basically, Valkyrie Profile 2 is the opposite of Warcraft 3, the story is serviceable but the rest is absolutely brilliant. It brings together everything that makes a JRPG experience so enjoyable. I encourage anyone with an ounce of taste in JRPG’s to give it a try, just be sure not to rush through it and take time to appreciate what this game has to offer. Oh and Valkyrie Profile 3 needs to happen.