Valkyrie Profile certainly has an interesting take on the standard character-recruitment and party-management concepts you'll find in most role-playing games, but the game does a poor job of presenting these mechanics to newcomers. You're offered little guidance when it comes to managing your time and properly developing your characters, which are two of the most critical aspects of the game. The manual doesn't provide much information either. As a result, if you're without the benefit of outside help, you could end up missing out on a significant portion of the game on your first trip through.
Once you get the mechanics down, you'll find a lot of replay value in Valkyrie Profile. There are three different difficulty settings to start off with, and each one takes you on a different path through the game. There are some characters that you can't recruit unless you're playing the game on hard mode, and one of the endings is only available if you play on normal difficulty or higher. Combined with the open-ended design of the game, this means that you could play the game several times, with different results each time. Considering that it could easily take you 20 or more hours to play through the game just once, you can be sure that Valkyrie Profile will keep you busy for a long time.
Part of the length in Valkyrie Profile comes from the very long, and very slow, story sequences that you see each time a new character is introduced. The opening scene alone takes the better part of an hour to get through. As entertaining as it is to watch these characters die in horribly tragic ways, it gets a bit tiresome after awhile. The dialogue is all very dour and heavy-handed, with long-winded discussions of death, destiny, honor, and so on. The portion of the story that survived translation is fairly interesting, but it moves painfully slow at times. Most of the story sequences are silent, but occasionally you'll hear a bit of spoken dialogue. Some of the voices are appropriately angry or fearsome, but many of the other voices just sound fake and overly dramatic.
Part of the appeal of the original Valkyrie Profile is the gorgeously detailed, hand-drawn artwork. The game looks just about as good as it did on the original PlayStation, although some of the sprites look slightly blurry on the PSP. There's still a great level of detail in the characters, backgrounds, and animations here, especially in some of the elaborate special attacks. The fantastic music sounds excellent on the PSP, especially if you're listening with a decent pair of headphones. From the delicate melodies that accompany the screams of people in agony to the triumphant battle theme, the music is one of the highlights of this game.
The only new content in this version is a handful of prerendered cutscenes, which look nice but don't bring much to the game.
While the game itself remains basically unchanged from the original, this isn't quite a perfect port. One of the more noticeable degradations is in the load times that accompany accessing the menu screen. You'll hear the PSP read the disc every time you want to view your inventory or equip your characters, and it always takes a few seconds for the menu screen to appear. It's a manageable shortcoming, but in a game where you spend so much time accessing the menu, it can get annoying. There are also some moments of slowdown that occur when you're running around in dungeons or performing special attacks during battle. They aren't sustained for more than a few seconds at a time, but they're still very noticeable. The only major intentional change from the original game is the introduction of some prerendered cutscenes throughout the game. Some of the scenes look great, but some look a bit ridiculous, and the contrast between the hand-drawn 2D art and rendered cinematics can be a bit off-putting at first.
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is certainly unique in the world of role-playing games. The only problem is that it takes a lot of patience and effort to truly appreciate what the game has to offer. With lengthy story sequences, few save points, and a steep learning curve, this isn't exactly a great on-the-go game that you can play for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. But if you're looking for a different role-playing experience, and you don't mind a game that takes itself very seriously, you'll get your money's worth from Valkyrie Profile.