|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: K2||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: XSEED / Marvelous||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 1, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Trudging through cavernous dungeons with a party of heavily armed adventurers on a mission to kick some monster tail and amass glorious treasure is an undeniably well-trodden aspect of RPG gaming history. It remains such a staple that, even after playing dozens upon dozens of dungeon crawlers of varying quality over the years, enthusiasts are still content to put up with the same old concepts with only a mildly fresh coat of paint slapped over it. At least that's the unfortunate premise Valhalla Knights 2 banks on.
Nowadays, players are asking for a little more than "oh look, a dungeon full of dangerous beasts and sparkly treasure; here's a sword and a magic potion; go to it." Valhalla Knights 2 provides the sturdy framework for a good action RPG adventure, yet it never goes very far beyond the basics. Instead of a gripping journey full of vibrant characters and stimulating conflict, it delivers a gray, menacing dose of dull grinding punishment. There are signs of life in the game design, but it's not enough to make up for the reality of how uninspired this sequel feels.
Forgoing continuation of the previous story, which involved a young hero with amnesia roaming a strange land in search of his memories, Valhalla Knights 2 opens with the malevolent Goddess of Judgment raining hell upon the realm and unleashing a horde of evil creatures across the land. Before the world can be crushed completely, the Witch of the Crystal sacrifices herself to hold the Goddess at bay and give humanity time to grow strong, rise up, and eventually destroy the Gods. Years later, your orphanage is mistakenly torched by a zealous group seeking to eradicate followers of the Goddess. As a result, you embark on the path of becoming a Latroci - a warrior sanctioned by the government - in hopes of finally slaying the malicious deity yourself. It's a neat concept that gets lost in the shuffle of the game's tedium.
In rolling up your character, you can initially pick from five different races (humans, dwarves, halflings, elves, and Akatoki - a race of kung-fu specialists) and a basic range of classes (fighter, mage, priest, thief, and monk). Additionally, several cool further races and specialist classes can be unlocked later in the game. After personalizing your appearance by picking a gender, face, and hair type, you'll divvy up stat points. Then it's off to the bare-bones hub town where you'll stock up on goods, grab some missions, and venture off into the vast dungeon beyond to get a start on the day's grind. You'll be doing lots of it.
Valhalla Knights 2's dungeon environments aren't particularly exciting in terms of detail or design, but the monsters and characters are nicely animated both in battle and while meandering the realm. It's also good to see every nuanced change in equipment reflected in each character. Overall, the visuals aren't revolutionary; they get the job done with limited flair and pizzazz.
While some missions connect to the story, far too many turn out to be menial tasks such as slaying a certain number of an arbitrary type of monster or talking to a specific person in town. This really bogs down the adventure. Roaming the mazelike dungeon - which connects to other dungeons, which connect to other dungeons, and so forth - is fun at first, but you'll be traveling much of the same terrain over and over again. Slaying scores of monsters early on is a necessity in order to gain items and precious experience. However, more often than not, you'll be the one at the receiving end of the slaying - at least in the first stretch of the game. Prior to reaching the point where you can recruit additional party members, you'll find yourself well acquainted with death. Death, it turns out, completely sucks; you'll have to fork over half your gold each time you get a dirt nap.