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Valhalla Knights: Oh, Those Valhalla Nights
Company: XSEED Games

The quest to deliver a defining portable RPG on the PSP has picked up in the last few months. Granted, the system has seen some decent RPGs, but none have managed to deliver a great portable experience. Xseed Gamesí upcoming Valhalla Knights aims to deliver just that by giving players more flexibility than other offerings in the same genre.

After a short intro battle involving a dragon,Valhalla Knights begins with your character waking up in a inn. You have no clue who you are, only that you are descended from a great hero. From here, your identity grows around choices you make.

You begin by deciding your characterís sex as well as choosing from one of four classes: Fighter, Mage, Thief or Priest. You also choose a name and set your beginning stats. Your initial class is not set in stone; you can choose to switch jobs if you decide that your current one isn't for you. Your main character can even double up on classes and see how the other side lives.

As you progress through your adventure, youíll also have the opportunity to hire new party members. In addition to setting the sex, occupation and class of these characters, you can also choose from one of five races, including human, elf and dwarf. Each race/class combination has its own benefits, including unlocking special skills that are only accessible with certain combinations.

Equipping them with sets of armor and weapons can also change the appearance of characters.

The gameís story involves the return of a Dark Lord, who was once sealed by the great hero Rastul. The seal doesnít hold and the Dark Lordís minions have managed to release him. Without going into too many details, the story starts off rather mundane, but soon evolves into something a little bit deeper.

Most of the game involves exploring dungeons. Enemies are visible on-screen, so if you donít want to fight them you donít have to. However, youíll lose out on experience points, which are something youíll want to grab every chance you get. Even early into the game, Valhalla Knights is quite the challenge.

Battles are real-time and can involve up to six party members (and just as many enemies). You can control any character you want during battle, with the A.I. picking up the slack. The A.I. is impressive and as of yet hasnít pulled any boneheaded moves. At the same time, managing your team during battle is important, especially if you want to take care of enemies efficiently.

Quests follow a general plotline that gets you from place to place. At the same time, you can always take on short sidequests from the guild, giving you the opportunity to discover new treasures, money and the all important experience points. Sidequests take place in the same locations as the story-based quests, allowing you to play around in a area for short bursts, while still staying close to your main objectives when you have more time to play.

Compared to previous RPGs on the PSP, Valhalla Knights looks to offer a new direction that so far is welcome. Weíll have more on Valhalla Knights in the coming weeks.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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