End Boss Month #8: Valkyrie Profile

In Norse mythology, Loki is a trickster god. He causes no end of trouble for other members of the pantheon, and like other gods of Norse tradition, he is deeply involved in the events of Ragnarök, the war between gods that results in the end of the world. And while he’s been interpreted in countless ways over the years, I am here today to talk a little bit about his role in the game Valkyrie Profile.

If you haven't guessed by the nature of this blog series by now, he's a colossal douche.
If you haven't guessed by the nature of this blog series by now, he's a colossal douche.

Loki is actually one of two possible final bosses that the player may encounter. However, the story branches dramatically at a key point that separates Loki’s path, the true ending, from that of Surt’s, who’s really not worth talking about in the context of this discussion. Over the course of the game, the player takes on the role of Lenneth, a Valkyrie charged by Odin to recruit the souls of dead warriors as Einherjar to serve the Aesir in battle at Ragnarök. What Lenneth doesn’t know, however, is that she was for a time put to sleep and incarnated as a human girl who lived a very brief, traumatic life in which she had only one friend; a boy named Lucian. And when Lucian, as an adult, is killed, Lenneth recruits him as an Einherjar without realizing who he is or what he meant to her.

Lucian, however, can see the truth, and after being sent to Valhalla, wishes that he could see her again so that he might jog her memory. Enter Loki, who “helps” Lucian by escorting him to Odin’s private collection of treasures. While Lucian uses a magic mirror to make contact with Lenneth, Loki uses that opportunity to steal a powerful artifact called the Dragon Orb. He then pins the theft on Lucian, and kills the Einherjar to hide the trail.

It isn’t until later that Lenneth’s human memories finally return to her, and in that moment, she is betrayed by Odin and Freya; her supposed allies. For a brief time, Lenneth’s soul is torn from her Valkyrie body, and when a special necromantic ritual restores her, and once she’s managed to control her grief, she has only one thing on her mind. Kicking Loki’s ass.

Never mind that Loki, by this point, has managed to kill Odin and usurp control of Asgard. Lenneth is zeroed in on the trickster purely for what he had done to Lucian. But when the final confrontation comes, Loki’s got a trick up his sleeve. With the power of the Dragon Orb, he can make the world end.

And he does. He annihilates everything and everyone.

Why? For much the same reason as Kefka desired the world’s end; he’s a nihilistic psychopath. What he didn’t count on, however, was that the same ritual that restored Lenneth to her body also granted her powers. Super powers. Creation powers. In one fell swoop, Lenneth undoes all of the harm that Loki wrought, and it’s on.

Loki’s no push-over. If you’re not prepared, he can do serious damage, particularly when he pulls out FMV-tastic attacks such as invoking the power of the Dragon Orb. When I faced Loki for the first time, I was lucky, mainly in that I could set my party members to auto-heal with potions every turn, and everyone had just enough hit points to withstand his worst onslaughts. I whittled Loki’s health down bit by bit, mostly through liberal application of Lenneth’s Nibelung Valesti super attack.

Though, I used a very poorly thought-out strategy that only worked because the math was in my favor. Other people have taken much smarter approaches and have beaten him in far less time. (Because unlike me, they’re not stupid.)

In place of the normal Youtube video I've posted at this point in past entries of this feature, I'm providing two. The first is the English language version; unfortunately, the recorder edited out Loki's world destruction, but in return, you get a fantastic display of 90s era Pokemon-level voice acting. In the second video, presented in Japanese, the full battle and the game's ending.

But alas, poor Loki (actually, not so poor and mostly a douche), he dies at the hands of Lenneth, who gets her revenge. And thanks to her powers, Lucian’s return as well. So pretty much everything Loki had accomplished is undone by the one woman in the universe that he really shouldn’t have ticked off.

As a bonus, I should note just how difficult it is to actually earn that final showdown with Loki. In normal gameplay, it’s much more likely that the player will end up having to face Surt at the end, if they don’t go out of the way to get the bad ending, which requires the player’s Evaluation Rating (basically, how well Odin thinks Lenneth is doing her job) drops below fifty, or her Seal Rating bottoms out at zero. Actions performed during the game affect Lenneth’s Seal Rating, and in conjunction with performing specific in-game actions, this rating must be below thirty-seven at a specific point in the game. There is nothing in the game itself that informs you of this fact.

In short, the developers wanted players to really earn this ending. Or possibly buy a strategy guide. Because goddamn, it can be easy to miss. And when it’s missed, it’s a sad day, because none of the crazy stuff I talk about in the above paragraphs happens, and Loki’s role in the game is completely thrust aside.