About the Games
Valkyrie Profile (Lenneth)
Valkyrie Profile was originally released on the PlayStation in 1999 in Japan and 2000 in North America. A PSP port of the game, renamed Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, was released in 2006. Valkyrie Profile is the story of a valkyrie whose task is to recruit human warriors, called einherjar, for Valhalla's army in preparation for Ragnarok, the end of the world. The game takes place in eight chapters, each with a set amount of time alloted to recruit warriors and train them in dungeons. The game has three possible endings depending on Valkryie's performance at her task — the bad ending if she does poorly, the B ending if done normally, and the A ending if special tasks are completed to see the "best" ending.
Valkyrie Profile has a unique battle system. Dungeons take place in a 2D, platformer setting, with no random battles (all enemies are visible and are manually engaged), while battles are in a more typical turn-based system. Each party member is associated with a button, and pressing it causes the character to attack. Naturally, different character specialities and varying weapons make chaining attacks essential. There is of course much more detail to the battle system (which takes time to really master), but playing it is much more rewarding than reading a description of it, so if you're interested I recommend you check it out.
The story of Valkyrie Profile is incredibly interesting and immersive. Recruting each einherjar involves Valkyrie watching the end of their life and how they die and join her as einherjar. Beyond that, though, is the path the A ending takes, which looks beyond Valkyrie's job description and what really matters to her. Couple this with addictive gameplay and a fanastic score by Motoi Sakuraba, and you have the recipe for one of the greatest games ever made.
→ Visit the Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth fanlisting, Turn Over A New Leaf!
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria was released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2. Silmeria features the valkyrie Silmeria, who was only briefly mentioned in the first game, and explains and expands on the Dipan storyline. Silmeria was once faithful to Odin, ruler of Valhalla, but rebelled against him and was removed from her position as a valkyrie and sent to sleep in her human host and wait for her time to come again through the Sovereign's Rite. The spell was not completed, however, and so Silmeria awoke in her host, Alicia, the princess of Dipan. Alicia could communicate with Silmeria but often did so aloud, causing people to think her mad, and as such she was sent away from the castle. The game therefore is the story of their journey.
Like the first game, dungeons take place in a 2D setting. Battles take place on a 3D plane and have some different qualities from the first game, such as the ability to take out the leader to end the battle, as well as the use of attack points (AP) to act in battle.
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria takes a different approach with einherjar. The ones used in the game are recruited when Alicia finds an object associated with them. Unlike the first game, however, their stories are not told, and the ones found are random, with about 20 of the 50 einherjar found per playthrough. Instead of being sent up to Valhalla, they leave the party once they reach a certain level (usually three to five levels higher than they were recruited at). Unlike Valkyrie Profile, Silmeria has only one ending, but each subsequent playthrough is more difficult than the last, maxing out at 50 playthroughs.
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume was released in 2008 in Japan and 2009 in North America for the Nintendo DS. Unlike the other two games in the series, Covenant of the Plume is not actually about a valkyrie but rather a human, Wylfred. When Wylfred was a child, his father fell in battle and was taken by the valkyrie to be an einherjar. Without their father there, his sister died from starvation and his mother went mad, and so Wylfred takes up the sword and swears vengeance on the valkyrie. He is given a little help by Hel, mistress of the underword, Nifleheim, in the form of a plume. Only when Wylfred has sinned enough will he have the power to slay the valkyrie and get his revenge. What do his sins entail? Overkilling his opponents and killing his allies.
Needless to say, Covenant of the Plume is a much darker game than the other two, all things considered. Like Valkyrie Profile, there are three possible endings, depending on different paths Wylfred takes and varying in difficulty (the "good" ending is nearly impossible on the first playthrough). What this results in is three different storylines, depending on how much Wylfred sins (read: how many allies he kills), and getting all three from worst to best is a really interesting experience.
Covenant of the Plume takes place entirely in an isometric perspective, and the gameplay is best described by Valkyrie Profile meets Final Fantasy Tactics. While characters move about the battlefield and act much like the FFT games, actual battling is one-on-one, in which opposing sides attack one enemy at a time, as many units involved in the attack as are in range. This is good for the player, as you need to gang up on enemies to overkill them (that is, completely fill up their HP gauge with attacks after they've been defeated), but it also means the opponents can do the same to the player's characters. It's certainly not easy the first time around, even on the easy path, and requires good tactical skills.
Instead of einherjar, the allies recruited in Covenant of the Plume are humans. There are a number of allies available to recruit, but the specific ones change depending on which path the player takes. Often, characters that appear as enemies in story battles are allies in a different path. It's quite interesting to see how slightly different circumstances affect the same characters in different paths.
All three games have a post-game bonus dungeon, the Seraphic Gate. It is a Tri-Ace standard in their games, and generally features the most difficult enemies in the game, but also the greatest rewards — powerful allies not available in the main story and more powerful weapons. It also tends to have much more humor than the story, pointing fun at the characters and the story itself. In the first two games, it is unlocked by saving at the last save point, while in Covenant of the Plume it requires that the player clear all three possible endings.
I encourage you to check out the games if you haven't played them before — while they build upon each other, they can be played individually. Of course, if you're already a fan, please do take a moment to join the fanlisting!