The wars of the gods always capture the lives and imaginations of men. Seldom has this been more literally true than in Valkyrie Profile, tri-Ace’s Norse-inspired epic. Though largely unknown to many RPGers, Valkyrie Profile is very nearly a masterpiece, deserving recognition even years after release.
Valkyrie Profile is a stunning, even beautiful game. Though almost entirely hand-drawn, Valkyrie Profile has a detail and fluidity seldom found even today, the master work of a nearly forgotten craft. The world is also painstakingly crafted, managing to be active yet on the whole having a distinctly muted, even lifeless tone, ideal for the matter at hand.
The music is also almost perfectly suited to its task. Valkyrie Profile, largely, falls under the dungeon crawler banner, and also has some of the best dungeon background music ever written for a game. While no one area of the score slouches, these backgrounds, practically written off in most games, will stay with you long after setting the controller down. The limited voice work is a more uneven affair; some, like maniacal necromancer Lezard Valeth, are absolutely perfect, while others are decidedly wretched. But then there’s hardly a constant stream of either, so it’s largely not an issue.
With the ever-growing threat of Ragnarok, long prophesized Twilight of the Gods, looming near, you take the helm of Valkyrie, reawakened by the All-Father Odin to gather Einherjar for the coming battle. This basic, if unusual, premise can be the entire plot of the game. Or it can be little more than a façade. Valkyrie Profile’s divine yarn is distinctly episodic, and it’s far too easy to miss the rich story that can be found. At the least, though, there will be death, for an Einherjar must suffer mortal death before they can function with the divine. And though little is seen of their lives upon becoming Einherjar, seeing someone’s death leaves a bit of an impression.
But being so dedicated to the vanquishing of miscellaneous minions, the most important question in Valkyrie Profile is whether or not the gameplay holds up. And in this sense Valkyrie Profile is almost entirely unique. The myriad dungeons themselves have intense emphasis on exploration and a shockingly complete platforming element; anyone who grew up with Sonic the Hedgehog will be…