Valhalla Knights
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-03-16 PSP Action/RPG T (Teen) XSeed Games / Marvelous Interactive

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Valhalla Knights was one of the few surprises I had to discover after returning from Europe in March. I had been eager to play it for a long time and knowing there was a copy waiting for me made me crave the game sessions even more.

You know you will enjoy a game when a few minutes in you're already into it and love the little features presented at you. The initial battle is tossed at you in a weird manner, and I really had no idea what I was doing in there. But once the game actually starts with our hero waking up at the inn and setting out to kill slimes (the lowly typical RPG monsters? how we love them!), I was so into the battle system that I kept powering up my character. For a while I forgot that there were quests to do, party members to discover and other interesting things to do.

So first things first... In Valhalla Knights you play as an extremely clich?? hero who doesn't speak, wakes up and doesn't remember a thing, and on top of that, hears voices. All you know is that you descend from a legendary adventurer.

When starting the game, you are forced to pick a human character. However, there are five races available in the game: Human, Elf, Dwarf, Hobbit and Machine. Each race has a specific set of attributes that makes them better suited for certain classes. For example, Humans are balanced characters while Elves have a predisposition for magic and Halflings are very quick.

Once you pick your name and gender, you can choose your class from Fighter, Mage, Thief or Priest. These are the four basic classes, although later on you can "advance" them by finding certain special items. Once you distribute the remaining bonus points among your character's stats, you're ready to go.

While the game is basically dungeon crawler RPG, the combat doesn't happen on the field map. A battle begins when you walk into an enemy, but on a separate screen, and it's a nearly seamless transition. It's a real-time battle where you have to run around, block and attack whatever comes at you while protecting your party members. The way you encounter an enemy can make a difference, giving you an advantage if you attack from behind or the sides.

Take the time to look at the battle interface. Although it may seem complicated at first, it becomes very simple to use. As you hit or take damage, a small sphere gradually fills up near you HP bar. When the sphere is full and glowing, you can use your special attack, which varies according to the weapons equipped. The in-battle menus are very easy to learn and allow you to pick items and spells to use, as well as give other commands. You can also easily switch between party members while in combat, which offers a really good alternative for different styles of gameplay, and also more control over your magic users who have a thing for wasting MP (for example, healing too soon).

At first, adventuring on your own can be a recipe for disaster when there are more than two enemies on the battle screen. A good advice is to spend your initial gold getting a party member at the guild, preferably a healer, since the starting difficulty of the game comes as a surprise.

You can also adjust your party member's abilities to be more prone to certain things. There is a number of points to allocate on different abilities that can make a class much more efficient. This type of customization allows you for further character customization and specialization. For example, drop your Fighter's points into attacking with weapons and your Healer's poitns into support and HP recovery. The chart displays larger areas towards the side you have improved in.

As you can imagine, the guild is the definitely the place to be at. In it, you can get your items appraised (for a small fee of course), accept quests and create/add party members (up to six characters in a party). This is also where you can change your class and take on a second and even a third job, much like what we know from FFXI. You can create some interesting class combos by combining what complements your character better. A Fighter with healing spells? It can be done. There's nothing to lose by choosing another class and leveling it up, since your character will always retain the stat gains.

Graphically, I found the game to have a lot of detail. Every piece of equipment is visible on your characters, the environments are rich in everything from children playing to sunbeams or rich furniture. The animations are very smooth, and although the color seemed to be a bit dull, it does tie in well with the cursed land/castle plot.

Many levels of customization, immersive class system and multiplayer options for co-op and versus battles give Valhalla Knights a little extra something to what could have been just another dungeon crawler. And although there is an obscene amount of fighting contrasting to the basic storyline, this is certainly a very welcome game on my PSP and one I'm thoroughly enjoying.

Special thanks to Jimmy Soga and XSeed Games for providing a copy of this title.