Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth Review
Porting old games is sometimes a perilous task. You never know which elements are beloved and which are reviled. Sometimes a developer will make too many changes, resulting in a monstrous mess that satisfies no one. Sometimes You change nothing and end up with Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. To be clear, I would have been totally fine with Square Enix making a couple more alterations than they did. You know, maybe shake some more of those cobwebs off this bizarre relic.
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is a rare double port. That is, it’s a port of a PSP game, which was a port of a PSX game. There’s a certain ‘visible duct tape’ vibe about this game. Don’t get me wrong! I love old PSX RPGs. They’re crammed with timeless quality and crazy ideas. I just wish Square Enix had made more of an effort to modernize the visuals. It’s a lot of gigantic, clunky pixels, you see. When playing on the PS5, like I was, you can see every seam and square. It’s kind of nasty. Although, it’s probably better than some weird, overly smooth HD upgrade.
A Straight PSP Port
There are some modern touches, however. You can now save at literally any time, which is great. You can also rewind a fair ways back if you make a terrible mistake. That particular feature came in quite handy during a couple of platforming sections. Finally, there are actually a couple of visual filters you can apply. The CRT scanlines are something of a band-aid solution, but it does help. There was a second filter, but it did so little that I can’t even remember what it looked like.
If you’ve never played Lenneth or the original PSX release, here’s the plot breakdown: Ragnarok is upon us! You play one of Odin’s immortal servants, tasked with gathering warriors for the last battle. This involves scooping up souls on the precipice of death, saving them for a more badass fate. Still death! Just, with a better afterlife attached. It’s a fascinating concept, and the execution is equally unique. You’re on a strict countdown timer until the end of the world. Every action you take advances the clock, so you’ve got to make smart decisions. This is also where Lenneth started to fall apart, at least for me.
The whole process of finding warriors and choosing your destination is so open as to be obtuse. I had to look up a walkthrough just to get out of the intro dungeon. Not to beat it! I needed guidance on figuring out how to leave. I also had to look up how to trigger the plot’s progression. None of it is intuitive. You can use up a bunch of your time just wandering around, if you’re not careful. These critical mechanics aren’t impossible by any means. They’re just more annoying than they need to be. It all makes a sort of sense in retrospect, but getting to that point is a long walk.
I enjoyed the combat, at least at first. Every character is tied to one of the four face buttons. You can also time your strikes to unleash nasty combos, or even overcome the toughest defenses. It feels frantic yet strategic, which is a nice blend. Yet, it got old pretty quick. You can only watch the special move animations so many times before you start drifting off. Some of the early battles also dragged on much longer than they needed to. They weren’t difficult, per se. The bosses were just horrendous damage sponges. Certain fights felt two or three times longer than they needed to be.
Some Remarkable Voice Acting
Lenneth’s music and audio don’t elicit much consideration, with a couple of exceptions. The voice acting is old enough to be accidentally amusing. Not good, but definitely not boring. Meanwhile, the music mostly bummed me out. I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it was the emotional tone, which felt like church with swords and streamers. Does that make sense? Like a direct-to-streaming sequel to the music you would expect. At the same time, it’s very much on par with other tri-Ace releases. So, your mileage may vary.
At first glance, this game seems like everything I love in a retro RPG. There’s a unique combat and progression system, detailed pixel art, and a fascinating narrative. But most of my biggest issues are in these same areas. The graphics for this release are ill-suited to modern TVs. Progression is obtuse and murky. And the combat quickly wears out its welcome. If you missed out on this game when it first dropped, you’re in luck! It’s been perfectly preserved. But if you’re going in blind, you may be somewhat disappointed with Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth.
***A PS5 code was provided by the publisher***
- Unique combat system
- Compelling narrative
- Open-ended progression paths
- Combat gets old fast
- Graphics are almost jarring
- Lot of unintuitive systems