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Valkyrie Elysium

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Soleil Ltd.
Release Date: Sept. 29, 2022

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PS5/PS4/PC Preview - 'Valkyrie Elysium'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Sept. 23, 2022 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Valkyrie Elysium is an action/RPG that draws on the richness of Norse mythology to present an original story set in a world on the brink of destruction, full of danger and fast-paced combat.

Valkyrie Profile has long been my favorite game franchise. It's only three games long — four, if you count a short-lived gacha game — but each of those three games is remarkably distinctive and interesting. Unfortunately, it was never a great seller, and I'd long since expected it to remain dormant forever. I met Valkyrie Elysium with slight trepidation, as it took the franchise away from its RPG roots and into a full-on action game. After getting some hands-on time with the game, I'm feeling more confident that it'll be a fun game, and in the end, isn't that what is really important?

It's difficult to get a feel for Valkyrie Elysium's plot from the demo. It follows a similar concept as the first Profile: You play as a Valkyrie who has been summoned by Odin to intervene on Midgard during Ragnarok. Beyond that, the demo doesn't give us much to go on. Most likely, the game is a reboot of the original, but considering that Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria was a stealth sequel that pretended to be a prequel, you might be in for a surprise. It does feel different from the old games.


On the surface, Valkyrie Elysium has a standard action game combat system. You've got light attack combos, heavy attack combos, dodging and blocking. At the very start, things are basic, but the demo allowed us to upgrade our characters, which unlocked some of the expected standard features. This includes a "perfect" parry and dodge mechanic that slows down time slightly when executed properly, as well as classics like a rapid forward stinger attack. In addition, Valkyrie has a "soul chain" ability that functions rather like Nero's Devil Bringer from Devil May Cry 4, where she can almost instantly pull herself to any enemy within range.

One interesting thing about the combat is that, in the demo, you can't cancel out of attacks. This takes some getting used to, as it means you commit to your attacks instead of dodge-canceling out of everything. It's not clear if this is going to be how the game plays for its entirety, or if you'll eventually unlock the ability to cancel out of attacks, but it's probably going to be the hardest part of the combat for anyone who has played other action games.

Valkyrie's abilities come in two forms. The first is Divine Arts, which are magic spells. You can cast a magic spell using any of the four face buttons on the controller. Spells range from damaging, such as a chain-lightning electric attack or a shotgun-like spray of ice magic, to support, such as healing or forcing enemies close together. You need Arts meter to cast these spells, but that fills up as you use regular combos, so you can constantly switch between the two.


Her second unique skill is the ability to summon Einherjar. We only got a brief taste of this in the demo, but since it's one of the most iconic parts of the Valkyrie franchise, I can only imagine it'll play a big part. You can summon an Einherjar with the tap of a button. Once summoned, the Einherjar performs an attack and fights alongside you temporarily, with the amount of fight time determined by your Soul meter. You can have up to two summoned at once. More importantly, a summoned Einherjar gifts their basic elemental status to the Valkyrie. Summoning a lightning-powered Einherjar makes her attack do lightning damage, while an Ice-themed Einherjar does ice damage.

As a bonus, Einherjar also serve as puzzle-solving tools. In the demo, our lightning-themed brawler character could smash walls, while our ice archer could freeze water to create bridges. There seems to be a Metroidvania aspect to these Einherjar, as we encountered obvious areas in one of the levels where an Einherjar could be used, but we did not have one yet. It's tough to say how much customization there will be based on the demo, but at minimum, we know there will be at least four different Einherjar.

There will also be different kinds of weapons, but the demo only showed off two. One is the default sword, which has a balanced mix of strength and speed. The other weapon in the demo is a rapier, which is built around quick attacks. Like everything else in the game, this adheres to a strength and weakness mechanic, where enemies can resist one weapon or be more damaged by another. The demo allowed us to swap between two weapons at will, but if there is any sort of mid-combo swapping, it wasn't unlocked.


The trick to combat in the demo is that it is built around exploiting different elemental strengths and weaknesses. Enemies have a crush bar that depletes as you hit them with their elemental weaknesses. Hit them enough, and they'll go into a stunned state where they can't attack and are more vulnerable to attacks. For bosses, you need to crush them and then hit them with an elemental weakness, but the core idea is the same. Combat in the demo revolved around crushing and then killing. It's likely the full version will have a mechanic that allows you to do a powerful attack in this mode. The original game's Nibelung Valesti attack was seen in trailers, and considering such attacks were called "Soul Crushes" before, I imagine they'll play into the final game.

Valkyrie Elysium might not be the Valkyrie Profile sequel that fans of the franchise have been waiting for, but it's not divorced from the original. Familiar items, attacks, spells and songs all appear to be present and accounted for, and it's likely the plot will reveal more secrets as it progresses. As a longtime fan of the franchise, I am optimistic about the demo's gameplay, and if nothing else, the music perfectly captures the original franchise's tone. Hopefully the full version of the game can live up to the lofty expectations of the franchise. We'll see in a week (on consoles) or later this year on the PC.



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