Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth - hands on

The original PlayStation was home to so many classic role playing games - an incredible variety of them. Though excellent, many slipped under everyone's radar. Valkryie Profile is one that sank like a stone - totally unfairly. Seeing the game again on the PSP is just another reminder of what a shame that is. It's an unusually good game - in every way.

Angsty teen saves the world? Nope. The star is Lenneth, a mature, battle-hardened goddess. She's sent to the living world to gather the souls of warriors for the apocalyptic battle of Ragnarok, being fought in the spirit realm of Odin and the other Norse gods. The story, then, is frequently dark, tragic and disturbing - she harvests the souls of these warriors right as they fall in earthly battle. There's never been anything quite like it - and if what we've played of the more conventional PS2 sequel holds true for its length, there won't be again.

This macabre mood is backed up by a world of gray and crumbling stone and hazy towns filled with miserable inhabitants. Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is something of a bleak game, to be sure, but that's where its charm really lies. Like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, fantasy epics are at their most compelling when things are going down the toilet; when the blood flows freely and darkness washes over the world. That's the same numb greyness that sets the backdrop of VPL, and the same triumph and tragedy brings it true color.