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    dkirschner's Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (PS2)

    [July 20, 2010 09:18:13 AM]
    Valkyrie Profile is the sequel (prequel?) to the PS1 classic (which I actually disliked for the combat and timed play)

    You play as Alicia, a young princess. She shares her body with the spirit of Silmeria, a valkyrie. Silmeria disobeyed Odin and so was reincarnated in Alicia's body. Being a child with a second person inside her, she was feared, thought insane or possessed, and so was cast out by her father, who told the kingdom she had died. Alicia/Silmeria escapes capture by another valkyrie for return to Odin and embarks on a journey to prevent a war between Midgard (human world) and Asgard (heaven).

    Valkyrie Profile 2 is beautiful. The attention to detail in the character models and especially the backgrounds in towns and buildings blew my mind. I was in love with this game’s exterior at first sight. My favorite scenes were home interiors. Wind ruffles the curtains and light plays off the plates on the table. Exploration in towns and the world is 2-D side-scrolling. Push left or right to advance those directions, push up to enter buildings, etc.

    The game play matched the visual quality. You basically progress through a series of towns and dungeons with a really cool map feature that tells you what % of the map you’ve explored and what % of treasures you’ve acquired. You’ll usually explore the whole map getting from A to B, and that treasure % was fun to increase because of the challenging puzzles. Alicia/Silmeria has a photon gun she uses to manipulate the environment. Like a typical platformer, she can also jump and swing her sword. Photons temporarily freeze enemies in place. Enemies are visible in the dungeon and one can generally choose to fight (by running into them) or avoid (jump over or freeze them). Shooting a frozen enemy swaps the position of Alicia and the enemy. Photons also bounce off surfaces, allowing for angled shots to shoot enemies (and thus switch places with them by shooting them again) in hard-to-reach spots. Alicia can also push frozen enemies, and if she jumps and shoots a (flying) enemy, that enemy will switch places with her and be frozen where she was mid-jump, allowing the player to essentially 'build' steps with enemies. Puzzles consisted of manipulating enemies in this way, and this was usually optional just for treasure chests.

    The game also has a 'sealstone' system in dungeons. Sealstones are objects with special properties that grant buffs or area effects to the party or the enemies, depending on who is holding the stone and where the stone is placed in the dungeon. Whenever you encounter a new type of sealstone, you can 'store' it, making it available for use later. At a 'spring,' you can retrieve stored sealstones and store others. On a 'dais,' you place sealstones to grant area effects. On a 'shell,' you nullify the effect of the sealstone placed there. For example, if I found a +25% damage sealstone, I would put it on a dais to get the benefit. If I found a +25% damage taken sealstone, I might put it on a dais or a shell. I'd put it on a dais because it effects enemies as well, so maybe I'd do this if I was feeling strong. Otherwise, I'd spare myself some deaths and put it in the shell to cancel the effect. I enjoyed being able to play with areas of effect, debilitate enemies, and buff myself, although I mostly used 2 orbs the entire game: 200% experience/0 gold and the 200% healing one. I found that I made the game a bit easy by using the experience orb, as my characters were waaaay higher than those I read about when consulting walkthroughs and arriving at the last boss.

    I generally found the battles easy, even the boss fights (except the last one the first couple tries, who slaughtered me), and I admit to button mashing my combos instead of thinking them out. Whatever, it worked fine. Battles are 3D fields in real time containing your party and enemies. The battlefields varied in geography. You have a stock of Attack Points, which are depleted when using abilities or dashing. Oddly, you can't jump in battles, but you can dash, quickly closing in on an enemy. Each character in your party (of 4) is assigned to a button. Pressing their respective buttons makes them attack in sequences you set up in the party menu. Characters have up to three attacks. I honestly, like I alluded to, didn't pay much attention to the finer points of stringing together combos or anything. Some attacks launch enemies in the air, others knock them down, and you're supposed to time and use your characters' attacks in a logical sequence such that all the attacks land and you do lots of damage. I found button-mashing to be a find tactic. I just didn't use attacks that lifted enemies in the air because when that happened, subsequent attacks missed because the enemy was flying still. Special abilities I hardly used either because the menu was clunky and I did fine just attacking. If you string together enough attacks, you build a combo meter and can unleash a powerful attack. Also, in each batch of enemies, there is a leader. The battle is over when you kill the leader, so I'd usually make a break for him if I could to end the battle sooner.

    There are a couple other aspects of the game that seemed kind of neat but that I didn't need to succeed. Enemies have distinguishable 'parts' that can be broken off based on which side you attack them from. So, a knight enemy might have a sword and shield. If you position your characters so they attack the shield, the knight may block a lot, but if you break the shield, maybe a 'broken shield' or some item drops after the battle. Same with the sword. These body parts can be used to make special items at shops. I hardly made anything and didn't find it necessary to grind these items. At shops, there is a reward system for spending cash. The more cash you spend, the more items become available. This was a neat idea, and I definitely thought I'd have to spend ridiculous amounts of money to see some rare items. It turns out though that the rare items are crafted with these body parts and the unlockable shop items are usually good, but not totally awesome. It usually didn't take long to unlock most of the shop items just from potion and regular item upgrade purchases.

    I found the skill system to be very cool. There are three 'colors' of equippable items. Various skills are unlocked by equipping combinations of color and type of item. So, maybe you learn a skill to do more damage against dragons by equipping a green helmet, green boots, and a blue trinket. You fight a while with that combination of equipment and eventually learn the skill, which you can equip. Skills cost points to equip, and as characters level up, they gain more points, increasing the amount/strength of skills they can equip at once.

    It's been a couple months since I beat this, so I don't remember story details too well. I remember enjoying it and thinking it was pretty good. Suffice it to say there are several twists of secret identities, who is who, and one of your party members betrays you to pursue his twisted fantasy of creating an alternate universe that doesn't exist under the rule of the gods, and seeks to rule it with another valkyrie as his (unwilling) mistress. Thinking about approaching the final battle still gives me chills because the last boss/ex party member is so deluded with power and lust for his captive valkyrie. It was kind of disturbing. You enter a path circling his chamber and have to run around the circumference watching him through the pillars and listening to him "Oh, my love" "Finally we are together" while he makes these weird moaning noises. Yeah, kind of disturbing.

    Anyway, I totally enjoyed this game. It looks great, is loads of fun, and has a decent challenge level.
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    dkirschner's Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (PS2)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 11 June, 2010

    GameLog closed on: Friday 18 June, 2010

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Beautiful, beautiful game. I found this RPG to be quite unique in terms of its battle system and dungeons. I tore through it in less than a week and loved every minute.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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