Valkyrie Elysium Review
Fans of Square Enix games throughout the years may recall a little RPG series based on Norse Mythology. No no, not the one with that bald guy. Of course, we’re talking about Valkyrie Profile! The game was known for its innovative gameplay at the time, featuring highlights like its flashy combat and the Einherjar system.
When a new game in the Valkyrie series was announced earlier this year, fans gave notice. A chance to step back into the world of Midgard was a dream come true, considering it’s been a while since the last game.
Valkyrie Elysium isn’t exactly the comeback worthy of the gods, bogged down by repetitive systems and a rushed storyline that fails to capture the curiosity of the players throughout their playthrough.
Another Game, Another Ragnarok
The threat of Ragnarok looms over the world, and the All-Father Odin has ordered his newly created Valkyrie to prevent it at all costs. The task at hand, the Valkyrie ventures into Midgard, and in the process, assembles a group of loyal Einjerhar to help carry out this order, clearing anything and everything from their path.
Based on the premise alone, Valkyrie Elysium paints a narrative of epic proportions. Due to its short length and rather rushed storyline, it never hits the highs expected from the series, and as a result, fails to pick up and sustain any momentum from the get-go.
The first half of Valkyrie Elysium felt like a prologue that spanned multiple hours, assembling a team of Einherjar that totaled 4, a vast difference considering past games had you scrambling to even choose from one of the dozens offered.
Each chapter of the game is unnecessarily long, pitting the players across uninspired level design that’s filled with generic foliage, monument, and some semblance of collectibles that don’t do anything to break the monotony of the levels.
Just as it picks up, the game bombards you with one reveal after the next that culminates in an ending that didn’t pique my interest at all, despite being one of the multiple endings available to players.
A big part of this boils down to the uninteresting characters that players will fail to connect with in Valkyrie Elysium. While the story isn’t terrible, it is peppered with predictable twists and uninspired writing highlighted by bland performances even with hints of emotional moments that don’t shine bright enough.
Valkyrie May Cry
One thing that does shine in Valkyrie Elysium is its combat, making it one of the only saving graces of the game. The game borrows familiar elements from titles like Devil May Cry, offering a stylish and fast-paced affair.
Players will be given access to a number of weapons throughout the game, including swords and spears, each with varying playstyles to fit their tastes. Dodges and parries are also part of the mix, but the combat centers around a combo system that invites players to get creative with the use of skills and attacks that leave enemies in the dust.
The one element that raises the Valkyrie Elysium experience is the use of the Einherjar summons during combat. The system is surprisingly deep as you can manage the duration of how long they can stay on the battlefield at the cost of more Soul Gauge usage.
Adding another layer of strategy is the use of Elemental weaknesses, with each Einherjar offering a specific element that can deal more damage to enemies. While a step in the right direction, battles do get formulaic and very repetitive as the game progresses, and you don’t gain access to the full roster of Einherjars until more than half of the game, which further magnifies the lack of variety.
Valkyrie Elysium also poses players with puzzles that have to be overcome with the use of Einherjars, although puzzles might be a bit too generous of a term to use, considering that there’s hardly any thought process required other than choosing which one to use. A wall of thorns in the way? Let Taika it. A giant boulder? Bring out Eygon to smash it. Rinse and repeat.
The same repetitive nature extends to Valkyrie Elysium’s sidequests, which don’t offer any compelling rewards and even fewer reasons to tackle them due to their simple objectives and lack of activity variety. Even the Einherjar sidequests, which are meant to flesh out their stories and backgrounds, felt routine and unnecessary save for the new abilities you can get from them.
The repetitive nature of it all is exacerbated by the fact that the Einherjar memories players get are simply told through voice lines accompanied by text. It would have been nice to see short cutscenes or static art to present the Einherjars as these gallant and powerful beings that become worthy allies.
Valkyrie Elysium offers visuals that don’t necessarily stand out in this day and age. The character designs are unique and diverse, with some locations looking grand and majestic, but the overall offerings of the game are quite bland and empty.
This extends to enemy design as well, which falls under the usual color swaps that are only distinguished by their name and elemental affinity.
Despite the complaints, Valkyrie Elysium’s soundtrack is actually a good listen. The tracks are mostly orchestral pieces that hit the right moments, elevating a somewhat dull experience.
What We Liked:
- Promising combat system with a good foundation
What We Didn’t Like:
- Rushed and bland storyline with dull characters
- Overly simplistic puzzle elements
- Repetitive mission structure
Verdict: Wait for it…
Valkyrie Elysium is a very rough time, which is a shame considering its pedigree. Despite a few bright moments like its fast-paced combat, the game is bogged down by questionable design decisions and repetitive gameplay that sour the whole experience.
The fun combat system can only do so much to carry the weight, but alas everything else feels average and fails to live up to its storied past. A deep sale is recommended before even trying it out.
*Valkyrie Elysium was reviewed on a PS4/PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.