We squirreled away some time with Valkyrie Elysium and its new demo ahead of its release this month.
The demo begins ominously with an animated sequence that explains the events of Ragnarok and how Odin and Fenrir fought to the death. In his last moments, Odin creates a new legion of warriors that are meant to steward all of his creations. It is implied the Valkyrie are those warriors.
There is not a lot of story presented after this expository introduction. The protagonist’s name is even mentioned and is referred to as only “Valkyrie”. The gameplay begins almost immediately and is hands-off for the majority of the demo.
Fans of the Valkyrie Profile games will be at a loss. The way the demo unfolds, it is clear that Valkyrie Elysium will have little to no connections to Lenneth or Silmeria.
The events surrounding Odin and Ragnarok don’t match up with prior games and even his design is more like the historical depictions than the look the all-father had in the PlayStation game.
Valkyrie Profile was a series of games that began as a turn-based RPG and was gradually inching towards action since the first sequel on PlayStation 2. While Valkyrie Elysium may seem like a reboot, it does adapt many ideas into its full-on stylish-action combat.
The Einherjar used to be recruitable party members for turn-based combat, now they are extensions of Valkyrie’s abilities. Instantly summonable from mapped face buttons; the Einherjar have their own elemental properties and cause various effects on foes.
Valkyrie Elysium‘s demo shows that with only a couple of Einherjar, the combat has a lot of depth and potential.
Stringing combos is simple but using these souls of warriors effectively mid-combo for juggling and crowd control is fertile with possibilities. Valkyrie also has a grapple hook where she can quickly zip from foe to foe, covering a lot of ground efficiently.
The flow of combat feels smooth and satisfying. Valkyrie always has a lot of options at her disposal, even this early in the game in a demo no less.
There is some room for improvement. Valkyrie Elysium is no Devil May Cry 5; cancels feel a bit on the slow side which is unbecoming of a powerful goddess. Her movement can also feel a bit sluggish and it takes slightly too long before she starts her sprint.
For what this demo version of Valkyrie Elysium offers, there can be ways that the final game can expand and refine this solid foundation. The visuals won’t impress anyone.
The graphics in Valkyrie Elysium resemble something from the seventh console gen and have that overly clean sheen that was present in most games from that era.
Character models look solid, though are not stunning like most late generation PlayStation 4 Square Enix games. Valkyrie does have an attractive figure and the artists clearly poured a lot of care into making sure she looked good from most angles.
Her draping attire does sashay and flutter, but not realistically. The team making Valkyrie Elysium are a small team and are likely working with strict limitations and have a deadline to meet.
Their efforts are commendable and if this was an indie game, it would be impressive.
The production quality overall is all over the place. Some shots look incredible and are dense with fine details.
The ornate structures and otherworldly vistas suggest there is a confident artistic vision at work, but then Valkyrie has a really goofy Naruto-style run and Valkyrie Elysium become comical.
With a deeper look at the final game, Valkyrie Elysium might come together and feel more like a cohesive vision. There is some shades of Stranger of Paradise here.
The uneven production values and emphasis on over-the-top brutal action makes Valkyrie feel like Jack Garland’s sister.
From its Dark Souls-esque UI design and Devil May Cry-inspired action, Valkyrie Elysium is looking like a mixture of various action game pastiches. There is also a grappling hook, something so many games have now that it is becoming a cliche – even Doom Eternal had one.
Aside from the usage of Einherjar and Matoi Sakuraba’s music, there is not a lot that connects Valkyrie Elysium to Profile. There may be more to it and in context things in the demo will make more sense, but it is hard to no wonder how all these elements will connect to the larger story.
Valkyrie Elysium is set to launch first on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on September 29th, while the Windows PC (via Steam) version releases November 11th, 2022.