Star Ocean Universe

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria Review

In Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria you play as character Alicia, the princess of Dipan whom has being forced to live far from the castle in exile by decree of her father King Barbarossa. On top of this Alicia shares her body with the soul of Valkyrie Silmeria which makes Alicia appear as she is going mad as she often appears to be talking to herself. Silmeria however is hiding from her master Odin as she refuses to return to Valhalla. Although Odin is bound to find Silmeria eventually and try bring her home, forcibly if necessary. On top of this Dipan is conducting dangerous research which too is incurring the rather of lord Odin.

Gameplay: Throughout the dungeons of the game, in towns etc you play as Alicia whom receives advice and power from Silmeria within her when needed. Similar to Lenneth moving is generally in a 2D style within a 3D environment. Good timing of jumping, usage of magic crystals etc are essential in being able to get through dungeons safely.

Progression between towns again happens with an overhead view in selecting the next area you with to visit, although without your Valkyrie souring the skies by rather travels by foot from town to town. You will also notice that the Period and Chapter side of things from Lenneth are gone, itís gone back to a more traditional RPG in terms of having limitless time to train between one area to the next, although odds are youíll need it.

Battle System: The Battle System basics are similar to Lenneth, although overall itís a vast difference. Now rather then going straight into a left vs. right battle you are now entered into a live environment, where the enemies actively move and can attack you, or you attack them without even getting a turn for a while depending on your placement. The active feel requires you to be more aware of the battle area, and try sneak up on enemies if possible to defeat them before they can hit you. To change things even further you can split your party if you wish to do so, perhaps it would be tactically wise to bait the enemy on one character, to attack it from behind with your other three. If anything you could perhaps relate this somewhat to the battle system in Final Fantasy XII, but with a quicker overall pace and smaller area.

Other unique factor in battle include an ability to break enemy parts which can at times cripple the enemy by destroying their weapon cutting their number of attacks, tearing of parts of the enemy armor to hit them harder, or at times making them completely unable to move. The ability to tear an opponent down progressively rather then just reduce their HP to 0 I find is an excellent unique addition to the game. Also at times when you break an enemy part off you may receive items, extra magic orbs or even enter Break Mode, which for a period of time allows you to attack at will, making even more items, magic orbs and additional damage possible.

In an effort to make battles easier more rewarding you can try challenge yourself and go for a Direct Assault where you take down the enemy leader before your bonus time gauge reduces. By doing so you are more likely to get better items, and also get more magic orbs which increase experience growth, of course doing so however is generally more difficult to achieve.

Battles are also heavily determined by unique Sealed Stones throughout your travels. These are orbs of tremendous power which could even kill itís holder if held for too long. Restoring these to various Earth Veins by using your magic crystals gained by winning battles and placing these on the various Dias locations during your travels can swiftly turn the battles favorable or unfavorable. Many bonuses/effects such as 200% HP Regeneration, 120% ATK & Increase Mass are just a few of the altering battle conditions you will encounter.

Is the battle system better then Lenneth? Iíd say yes, battles are now far more flexible and open ended, the battles offer you much more freedom, and you donít need to rely so heavily on Guts protection now either like you did in Lenneth.

Characters: The main group of character you initially face are Alicia/Silmeria, Rufus, Dylan, Lezard, Arngrim & Leone. The party clearly shows signs of suspect towards one and another, although since Alicia is quite naive she just feels as though everyone is friends. The interaction between the main characters is excellent, and yes Lezard & Arngrim also appeared in Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. All the main characters have fully voiced dialogue and all have quite unique personality traits with back-story attached.

Other characters during the game include various Einherjar, souls of the deceased whom serve Valkyrie Silmeria as needed. Although quite unlike Lenneth you are to develop them to be materialized back to life, rather then being sent to Lord Odin as he wishes. Personality wise you donít get a whole lot from the various Einherjar in the game, even a few of them share the same voice actors etc.

Other Changes from Lenneth: One thing I immediately noticed is the Materialize Points system and the Chapter & Period system are both gone. In essence itís actually lost some of its unique and difficulty points. In Lenneth you had to be very selective about your usage of Materialize Points, when to rest and try battle as often as you can as enemies will not return to dungeons (most of the time) without having to consume more Periods. Now, you just leave the room and come back to fight as often as you with, get money from defeating monsters, get tired leave and visit an Inn, repeat. Itís gone back to a rather typical RPG style in that regard and I personally donít like it; now itís more of a unoriginal grinding style of RPG. The truly unique and challenging aspects of the game are tossed out the window for something like everything else. Maybe Square-Enix can be blamed for this as they are notorious for making generic RPGís; this is the one change Iím quite disappointed with. Unique points of the gameplay have dropped sharply.

Other changes however include the efficient Event Skip option, which also extends to the at times drawn out special attacks excellent for tough fights in particular where more attacks are used and you will probably end up facing them a few times as well, cut the story and attack downtime out speeds up the game quite nicely.

Another noticeable change is the removal of the CT gauge; many will know this very gauge is the one thing that stopped Mages from being broken in Lenneth, now itís replaced with an Ability Gauge which is shared among the party. This helps speed up battles and cuts the downtime from mages and special attacks out. Just make sure you either get orbs to restore it in battle or 'walk it off' by roaming the battle field or force resting to recover it in full.

Battle Skills are now learnt by linking of various color coded armory and accessories; with certain combination's various new skills can be learnt. Once complete you can use your allocated CT points to select which skills you wish in battle, a little like Star Ocean: Till the End of Time in that regard.

Overall there are some good efficiency changes, but others which I feel somewhat reduce the uniqueness of the Valkyrie Profile gameplay.

Graphics/Sounds: Audio & Visual wise the game is quite strong, yet again we are treated to a nice musical score thanks to the genius of Motoi Sakuraba and the detail of the in game graphics are good enough to have most of the scenes with the actual game models rather then awesome FMVís to replace lame models throughout. Voice overís of the characters is also very good and all main scenes are fully voiced, in both aspects the game is more then acceptable. Some of the special attacks also look quite good, but can also be skipped if you tire of seeing them again and again. Not much at all to fault here.

Replay Factor: If you can manage to survive the first time around youíd no doubt find it much easier the second. Youíll also notice on subsequent playthrough that many of the Einherjar you recruit as you progress can change on a % basis. This makes it quite likely to get half a dozen different characters on another play through, there are also a number of optional areas which are only unlocked by doing certain events you may stumble across a second time as well. And the story is certainly good enough to see once more, it really puts things in perspective a lot better. Well worth at least one more attempt if you have some free time.

Final Thoughts: While a few of the unique traits from Lenneth are gone Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria still stands out as a different RPG from the norm. Itís a story you wonít see anything like very often, and the gameplay, musical score are all of a high quality standard. The game is well balanced and also quite challenging, although sometimes a little too challenging if you are not prepared to train. It will take you a while to play, but I think itís definitely worth it. An excellent addition to an RPG gamers library.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Opinion by Fayt.