Where’s My Sequel? – Valkyrie Profile
Most gamers appreciate when a brand new installment releases in their favorite series. Despite complaints about “sequelitis,” getting too many entries is better than the alternative: getting too few. In Where’s My Sequel, we look at standalone games and franchises that deserve to continue. First up, Tri-Ace's role-playing classic, Valkyrie Profile.
What it is:
To understand why we need a new Valkyrie Profile, you first have to understand why the first two entries are so awesome. Inspired by Norse mythology, the games revolved around the Valkyries, god-like beings who harvest the souls of mortals and turn them into Einherjar (i.e. soldiers in a celestial war). This means that the warriors you fight beside are all dead. In the first game, you get some great, bittersweet circumstances detailing the deaths of your eventual allies, which gives them all a tragic hook. The second game is less focused on the individual characters, but the overall story is still compelling, dealing with plenty of divine political and uncertain allegiances. If you're looking for a story about a spunky young kid saving the world, look somewhere else.
The original on PlayStation (later re-released on PSP as Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth) is a perfect title for hardcore RPG fanatics. Of course, that's just a polite way of saying that Valkyrie Profile is an exceptionally complicated game. It gives you multiple kinds of points to spend on character customization and item creation, though little instruction on the best ways to spend them. It has multiple endings, but also allows you to make irreversible mistakes; inconspicuous actions – like releasing a certain character from your party, or going to a certain location before a specific event – can destroy your chances at seeing the best ending. It sounds unforgiving, but the demanding nature of the game encouraged multiple playthroughs and heavy optimization. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria steps back from that to become more accessible, but both games feature intriguing combat systems based on timing and combining all of your attacks. These battles, along with the unique lore Tri-Ace made for the world, form the core of the Valkyrie Profile franchise.
When it stopped:
Technically, a third Valkyrie Profile game exists. It is called Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, and it came out on DS in 2009. But it was a turn-based strategy game and it wasn't very good (though some people disagree with me). I consider the last true Valkyrie Profile game to be Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, which released on PS2 in 2006.
What comes next:
We have one game subtitled Lenneth, and another subtitled Silmeria. If the previous pattern continues, we're due for Valkyrie Profile: Hrist. That means that the most ruthless Valkyrie finally takes center stage. Though some characters from previous games should carry over (not Lezard Valeth, though), the developers at Tri-Ace shouldn't be afraid to branch out into new territory with the gameplay. After all, a lot has happened in RPG world in the last six years, and a PlayStation 2-era game wouldn't cut it today.
As much as I enjoyed the previous titles, maybe the 2D dungeon exploration and light platforming elements can go. Instead, I'd like to see a more open-ended approach to the world. I'm not asking for Skyrim, but a less linear structure would give players the freedom to explore the cities, dungeons, and sidequests as they saw fit. Kind of like the first game, where Lenneth can fly to whatever location she wants – except there would be things to do there, even if it wasn't the next designated objective.
I'd like to see the battle system return in a similar form, focusing on coordinating your group attacks to build up high-damage combos and activate powerful finishing moves. I really enjoyed how Valkyrie Profile 2 expanded the original formula, with more emphasis on positioning and strategy. I want that to continue, but with some sort of new twist. As a side note, I would also like Tri-Ace to bring back the artists Kou and You Yoshinari for the character designs, as well as Motoi Sakuraba as the composer.
Unfortunately, dreaming about a new Valkyrie Profile title won't make it happen. I hope that, even after all this time, Square Enix and Tri-Ace aren't leaving this series for dead. Even though Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume got a mixed reception, I hope the developers know that plenty of Valkyrie Profile fans like me are anxiously awaiting the next RPG installment.