Having finally got our hands full with the long-awaited action JRPG, Valkyrie Elysium; we bet you’re wondering, is it worth the wait? Is it worth buying? Does the hype match the quality of the game? Valkyrie Elysium finally launched on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on September 29th, with PC users having to wait for a bit longer till November 11th. It’s the latest entry into the decades-long Valkyrie Profile series, which adds more to questions about whether Valkyrie Elysium is good enough to fill its predecessors' shoes.
We’re here to put your mind at ease on how worthwhile Valkyrie Elysium is. So, whenever you’re ready, here’s everything you need to know about the Square Enix action JRPG, Valkyrie Elysium.
A Show of Promise of Valkyrie Profile’s Reincarnation
Perhaps the most exciting bit about Valkyrie Elysium is its reincarnation of the Valkyrie Profile series. It’s hard not to compare the two. Are they similar? Is Valkyrie Elysium a sequel to the series? Does Valkyrie Elysium reignite the same love and enthusiasm we had while playing Valkyrie Profile back in the day – of course, with renovations to match modern-day technology?
Well, to start, Valkyrie Profile is a classic turn-based RPG with three main titles and a spin-off mobile game. It’s all things Norse mythology, including some popular facets like Ragnarok, Valhalla, Asgard, and the Valkyries. And even though this was an RPG relying on outdated mechanics, fans couldn’t help flocking over since the series began in 1999. Now, years after Valkyrie Profile’s reign, Square Enix has released a true sequel more than two decades later.
So how do the two compare? There is no direct connection between the two. However, the settings are pretty similar. After all, they are both based on Norse mythology and pride themselves in a ‘Valkyrie-lore’ we’ve come to love.
In Valkyrie Elysium, the world has once again succumbed to its impending doom – Ragnarok – and the god and All-Father, Lord Odin, has, with the last of his breath, created the world’s only hope, a new Valkyrie called Nora.
Coming in from the Valkyrie Profile series, you can spot a good number of familiar characters and the Einherjars (heroic spirits you can summon to help you in battle). Other similarities showing the infusion of Valkyrie Profile into Valkyrie Elysium are the special attacks and combo systems, the background music, some light exploration, and scarcely distributed puzzle solving. Overall, there is no denying that the original Valkyrie’s Profile DNA is there.
Diving into the Gameplay Itself
So, the original 1999 Valkyrie Profile was turn-based. Gradually, the series incorporated more action, moving from tactical to a standard JRPG at the time. With the new Valkyrie Elysium, the original Einherjars remain, plus the special combo systems. However, the gameplay is much more fluid now with a fast-paced, dynamic three-dimensional combat system.
The combat feels a notch higher and more exhilarating. You’ve got your special elemental attacks and combos to toy around with. The combat feels fluid, easy, and, most important, fast. So, while turn-based is a classic, action-based is all we’re here for now. Overall, synchronizing attacks and combos in real-time keeps the adrenaline running high – at least for the first few hours into the game.
Even if you’re not familiar with Greek mythology characters, the story is quite gripping from the start. It opens up by illustrating the outbreak of chaos in the world. Evil spirits run wild, and it’s yet another ‘end of times’ Ragnarok situation to deal with.
You’ll play as the Valkyrie, Nora, who can only summon side help from the Einherjars – essentially the souls of the evil spirits you acquire. Einherjars have varied elemental powers. Nora, too. She can trigger weakness in her opponents and deal elemental or sword damage.
A special attack you can use is Soul Chain. Since the world is pretty wide, with each level taking precious time to approach and down all targets, it’s great that you can, instead, use the Soul Chain to dispatch a chain of souls towards an opponent and have them draw nearer to you. We’ve got to say, combat-wise? Valkyrie Elysium nailed it.
Show Us What Happens, Don’t Tell
For most of the game, the spotlight shines on Nora. Otherwise, there isn’t much going on. Of course, Nora is up in arms purifying the evil spirits rummaging through the world and acquiring their souls to get stronger. But not once did the game bring in more than a handful of characters with a decent concrete story to build the plot up some more.
At some points, you run into blue flowers that each tell a backstory of some long-gone character. But we don’t actually get to interact with said characters or find out about their motivations, their personality, or how important their connection is to Nora’s quests. What’s more? The flowers don’t have any additional significance. Or perhaps they mark the spots where these characters' stories ended. Who knows.
In the art of storytelling, there is a common mantra: to show, not tell. If Valkyrie Elysium showed us some of these background stories, perhaps even infused some of these scenarios in the side quests, perhaps the many hours through the game would not feel too linear. The start of the story is most interesting, but from there, the plot pretty much plateaus. So, if you’re expecting to sink your teeth into the nitty gritty of gods and mythical creatures, simply because it’s the game is said to be based on Norse mythology, don’t.
In the end, Nora’s path feels monotonous, which, sadly enough, is pretty much the same feeling you have when exploring the open world. There isn’t much going on to make you curious about exploring – finding out more – and, ultimately, wishing to play for the full 20-hour gameplay estimate. Ultimately, it’s mostly just made up of lots of empty spaces that almost look lifeless.
Diving Even Deeper into the Battle
The most interesting element of Valkyrie Elysium is the battle system. After all, this is an action-based game focusing its energy on strategies, and continuous battling, so we’ll explore this a bit much further.
There are two main ways to go into the action: Einherjars summons and Divine Arts. Einherjars are more like companions who you can summon at any point to help you win. But you can’t actually play the character. Divine Arts, though, is where things get exciting. Most of the combat is continuous attacks of either swordplay, other weapon types, or elemental damage.
Aiming for the weak points, which are literally shown to you, is a great way to temporarily immobilize your opponent. Once they’re down, you can attack them unilaterally to win. As a plus, the weak point attribute also shows up when fighting the big, scary boss.
For Divine Arts, you’ll consume the Arts Gauge to deal lightning bolts or a burning storm. Einherjars summons, on the other hand, have elemental powers like lightning or ice. Depending on the type of Einherjars you summon, their power adds to your weapon, thus spicing up the game’s combos.
Much of the game involves fighting enemies from all corners of life. Seriously, though. Each level you move up to, what keeps you most busy is fighting off enemies, in a similar, linear fashion. For the entirety of the game, you’re in a race against your opponents to acquire as many ‘souls’ as possible. Each soul you purify ups your skill level and can even be used to recover your gauge system.
Possible Multiple Endings?
One burning question we had from the trailer was whether Valkyrie Elysium would have multiple endings. Especially since at the start of it, it says, “In an unjust world, what will you choose?”
We don’t want to give any spoilers, of course. But, you’ll likely be pleased to know that the player will have to choose right from wrong, with Nora's fate unfolding through multiple endings.
Valkyrie Elysium Release Date, Platforms, Duration
Valkyrie Elysium launched on PlayStation4 and PlayStation 5 on September 29, 2022. However, PC gamers will have to wait a bit longer till November 11, 2022, via Steam.
We estimate the gameplay to take around 20 hours on average to complete for both the main quests and side quests. However, sticking to the main story could take roughly 18 hours, on average.
Something interesting is that there are free updates scheduled to release in November this year. The updates will include a new playable character called Hilde, some additional difficulty modes, and more. With that said, it could take more hours to complete the game with the new updates.
At the start of the game, Valkyrie Elysium bombards you with so many captivating gameplay elements with so much potential. And with the sleek dynamic 3D action-based combat, how fluid and fast-paced it feels, plus the combo systems, Valkyrie Elysium definitely had our expectations running wild.
When the grind starts, however, and you get to chunking down the meat of the game, the gameplay just kind of plateaus. It’s sad because there are so many options to explore, from a suite of elemental powers and weapons to the concept of Einherjars to an original story set in a world on the verge of doom, and not just any world, but one based on Greek mythology.
So why are there no more than the new combat system to get excited about? Where are the exciting puzzles or interesting mini-maps to explore? Why are there no interesting characters whose stories we can follow besides Nora? Can the gameplay be more than linear, fast-pacing through wide chunks of a unique art style whose potential barely hits the mark? Valkyrie Elysium uses a unique art style that looks almost like old-school graphics. You could even compare it to a PlayStation 2 entry, which just either works for you or not.
For the most part, Valkyrie Elysium feels like a teaser, and not in a good way. Or, rather, a mere satisfactory way to reincarnate the Valkyrie series. But in this day and age, there are certainly more ways to revamp a game. Plus, with the God of War series to compare with and outstanding games like Tales of Arise, Valkyrie Elysium feels like it just isn’t quite there yet. Sure, some of the graphics and story are off-putting. However, the gameplay is fast and fluid, presenting you with the good, old two halves attempt.
Valkyrie Elysium Review (PS4, PS5 & PC)
An ‘Almost’ Reincarnation of Valkyrie Profile
Valkyrie Elysium is forging a new path from the previous turn-based combat in the Valkyrie series to a dynamic 3D action-based combat system. However, comparing it to the likes of God of War, Tales of Arise, and even the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, we can’t help but feel like Valkyrie Elysium is a two halves attempt that just isn’t quite there yet.