There is a serious flaw in the opinion of most gamers that the PSP doesn't receive quality games. In reality, the PSP receives just as many worthy titles as the DS, they just don't receive the recognition of their worth. Valhalla Knights, the upcoming action RPG from XSeed Games, is struggling to free itself from that trap. Too little has been mentioned about the effort and polish that XSeed is hoping to instill within Valhalla Knights, and the game is slipping softly under the radar. It's a real shame when a game seems to be doing everything right, but it still has to fight against the stereotyping and opinions of a too quick to write-off public.
It's easy to see how gamers might be drawn to their opinions. RPG's on the PSP, for the most part, have been a floundering affair. Valhalla Knights is fighting against that history, and from all early impressions of the game, it looks like it might be winning. The games path to victory? Full player freedom and customization. That seems a weighty course for a console RPG to try and walk down, let alone a game on the PSP, but XSeed is giving it their all to include every possible outlet of freedom a gamer might want to explore.
Valhalla Knights begins, as so many other RPG's tend to, with a hero suffering from the very common heroic amnesia. He knows only that he is the descendent of a legendary hero, and his journey of self-discovery will flesh out the storyline throughout the game. As always, we're not dealing with Dostoevsky, but in this case, the story is a vehicle for the customization of the character. Instead of starting with a cast mold, the game is leaving everything to be decided and implemented in the storyline as it fits. The first freedom available to the player is fairly standard, choosing one of four very common classes; fighter, thief, mage or priest. However, players aren't locked into their class as they are in most games, but instead they're free to supplement their abilities with a variety of subclasses.
The class system, and many other aspects of the game, make for an experience similar to a MMORPG. The game allows for free-roaming, the accepting of quests from guild halls, and even building a party that joins in the battle. The combat is very similar to that in a MMO-setting, as the party attacks freely and the focus is left only on the particular character the player is currently controlling. Parties can include up to six characters, and the player has an almost tactical control in placing them so that one character isn't squaring off against a large group of enemies on his own.
The enemies do come in large groups though, and battles can be frantic. They also come in large stature, and there are some fairly brutish trolls and ogres throughout the game. Players luckily have the ability to sneak past and avoid the fights altogether. Everything meshes in the games fantasy setting, so expect not only trolls and ogres, but also knights, elves, dwarves, halflings, and ... samurai? Alright, samurai don't necessarily match, but expect them nonetheless.
The vastness of the fantasy wold in Valhalla Knights is second only to the vastness of character customization within the game. Every single wearable item in the game doesn't only affect the character and his abilities, but they are all also viewable on the character model. As far down as rings and necklaces, everything can be seen. That is a truly impressive achievement for any game, on any platform, and it will surely inspire players to explore the appearance of their character.
However, often in single-player RPG's character appearance is overshadowed, considering there is now a bevy of games that allows players to explore that appearance and more importantly, share it with others. Valhalla Knights wisely recognizes this, and includes within the game 30 cooperative missions to play with others and share how creative a character the player has made. Not only does the co-op mode offer these missions, but players can split the winnings from their journeys, and return with them to the single-player campaign. The same goes for the versus mode, in which players can place bets on their victory, and then return to their original game with the bounty.
XSeed has thought to include a serious amount of content and limitless freedom for Valhalla Knights, and they're hoping this will be the game to help fight the negative outlook the PSP has seen. Interestingly, the company has looked at the Japanese release as only part of the course along the road to the eventual American release. The American release is their real goal, and the game will be tweaked and littered with additional content until then.