Valkyria Soul: Odd, Repetitive, and Short

Who caused Ragnarok, the destruction of Valhalla and its gods? What did the Valkyrie and the rest of Valhalla really think of Odin? Was Loki framed? Is there a traitor in the ranks of the Valkyrie?

Valkyria Soul spins its own tale of Nordic mythology as it probes these questions and others. You control the central character, the Valkyrie Reginliev (Reginleif in the literature), but your fighting party can have 2 more members, and they might be mythical monsters, like Fenrir the wolf, even Thor, or made up ones just for the game. There is no dialog among your party, and really most meaningful conversation occurs between Reginliev and Huginn, a crow (a raven in the literature) who is the familiar of Odin. Their repartee can be humorous and more interesting than most Kemco games, but with only two characters, it is limited.

The play is very repetitive. All the dungeons look the same, have no special tricks (no spiked floors, no burning lava, no trap doors), and your mission is always to investigate until you find and defeat the boss. There are no subquests, and minimal use of NPC.

The post game is nothing more than 4 (I think it was 4) dungeon crawls to beat up 4 boss monsters. However, the post game story does extend the tale in an interesting fashion. As it is possible to dodge most random battles, and your party is likely so powerful the battles will not be challenging, the short time needed to learn more about Ragnarok and the gods is worthwhile.

There is an arena with minimal rewards.

The game offers story, some dialog, short but repetitive play, so why bother? Well, the battle mechanics and party configuration strategy are unusual and offer lots of alternatives. As some other players have commented, it is a bit of a mystery just how you should build your party, and what the best enhancement tactics are.

You can have at most 3 members in your party, but you can have several "on the bench." A fighter is a combination of a "soul" and a fylgia. Souls can be moved at will from fylgia to fylgia. Each fylgia has a "cost" that contributes to the party "cap" of maximum cost. Suppose the cap is 9. You could have a single fighter with a cost of <=9, or 3 fighters with a cost of 3 each, or any combination with total cost <=9. There are many powerful fylgia with costs so high that they cannot be used until the very last battle in the game. There are only 7 souls in the game, but countless fylgia.

Each fylgia can be "enhanced" (leveled up) by gaining experience in battle but more by consuming defeated enemies. When this enhancement reaches a maximum, most fylgia can be "transformed" into something more powerful, but its "cost" will increase substantially. A transformation cannot be undone. You will have to make a difficult decision about a transformation that consumes, or even exceeds, your party cap.

The most unusual aspect of battles is that damage not only subtracts hp, but also, and this is crucial, reduces max hp for the duration of the battle. This reduction in max hp cannot be undone (although it is automatically restored at the end of a battle), so a common rpg tactic of using consumables to wage a struggle of attrition is not viable here. It also means that most battles go by quickly.

It is very difficult to control your party members during battles. Each fighter can have up to 3 user set actions (set before the battle), and these actions occur automatically and randomly within a guideline set by the user. For example, you can make healing a priority, or going berserk to attack, and other choices, but direct control over each fighter is so awkward you are likely to avoid it. The interface allows 3 speeds of battle, and you will want to choose the fastest one most of the time. Unless you are on the slowest speed, you will find it difficult to interrupt the flow each turn to select a specific action for each fighter.

Another unusual battle feature allows (in fact requires) you to continue the fight even after your party is wiped out. This feature should factor into your decision about party configuration and "bench" strength in relation to the membership "cap." For example, if you have several fighters with small costs, your first group might whittle away at the enemy so that a second group can finish off the adversary after you first group dies. Is that more effective than building a smaller group with more muscle? Tradeoffs like that, done without much guidance, are the only challenges in this game. Hint: once you near the game end, or in the post game, build up a super fighter and have him/her be the only party member.

Valkyria Soul isn't difficult to complete, has repetitive dungeons and actions, but does have a good story and unusual tactical choices that overall provide some interest and make the short time (8-15 hours) pass quickly.

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