The Valkyrie IP seeing a revival by way of Valkyrie Elysium was a genuine shock that took me a second to accept as reality. Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is one of the more defining JRPGs I’ve played, so seeing a new modern entry was an undeniably thrilling prospect. However, after playing the demo, it’s evident that Valkyrie Elysium is its own beast, for better or worse.
The demo for Valkyrie Elysium is primarily gameplay centric, with all semblances of the story delivered lightly past the introduction’s lore dump. Following the war on Asgard involving several realms, Odin and Fenrir struck each other, eventually letting the former know that Ragnarok has begun.
To combat this threat, Odin created Valkyrie as a being set to save the world in his stead. It’s an engaging premise that I hope acts as a bridge for a compelling storyline, though it’s difficult to say how integral the narrative will be based on this demo.
Combat is best summarized as a standard action RPG. Valkyrie can perform a myriad of sword combos alongside special techniques dubbed Divine Arts, which are infused with specific elements. Speaking of, affinities are at the crux of the combat system, with all enemies being weak to a particular element or weapon affinity.
Taking advantage of these affinities is also possible by summoning allies known as Einherjar, who deal damage of their own accord and coat Valkyrie’s physical strikes in a particular element. Another notable mechanic is Soul Chain, a hook that latches Valkyrie to an enemy and pulls her closer to them. Close-quarters combat is the name of the game here, and you’re given enough tools and gradual insight to know how to prevail.
You’ll also come to notice that this title’s combat is more methodical and position-based, especially against bosses. Some foes have weak points on a singular part of their body, making players have to be aware of their surroundings. Moreover, Valkyrie’s speed is relatively leisurely, emphasizing Soul Chain’s usefulness.
In all honesty, Valkyrie Elysium’s combat doesn’t quite stand out since its commonly used ideas are executed in non-inventive ways. Still, I found the gameplay loop rather enjoyable, partially due to how rewarding the elemental-based mechanics are. There is also a skill tree and weapon upgrading, both of which are simplistically incorporated. The former offers notably excellent abilities and is absolutely worth keeping an eye on.
Although, the facet of gameplay I unexpectedly came to appreciate the most was actually the exploration. Of the few maps I traversed, there were always side areas and various rewards to find off the beaten path. The experience is far from a solely linear and combative affair, and I’m looking forward to seeing to what extent this umbrella of design is embraced.
The only significant critique I have so far is the obstructive camera when battling multiple foes in enclosed spaces. It can become incredibly cumbersome, with Valkyrie’s model sometimes entirely cut off from view in the worst-case scenarios. Here’s hoping this issue is remedied before release. On the other hand, performance is at least strong on PlayStation 5, with no major frame drops or the like.
Valkyrie Elysium is proving to be an addictive action-adventure any intrigued player should find some enjoyment with. Even though the particulars of its cast and story execution are still up in the air, the gameplay systems are solid and rewarding, even if uninspired. However, I can confidently say that if you’re hoping for an experience more akin to the franchise’s roots, you’re certainly not getting that here. Admittedly, it saddens me, but I’m willing to see where Elysium goes.
Valkyrie Elysium is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC on September 29, 2022.
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