Valkyrie Elysium: Can the gameplay make up for the game world? test
Valkyrie Elysium was released for Sony consoles at the end of September 2022 and is also the fifth game in a Japanese role-playing series in which nothing has really changed for a long time. The adventure of the Valkyrie began in 1999 on the Playstation 2. The last “real” part, apart from a mobile game, was Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, which was released in 2009 outside of Japan. So the Valkyrie had to cope with a long break before a new and action-packed life was breathed into it with Elysium. Originally the series was developed by tri-Ace, this time the employees of the Soleil studio were allowed to work on it.
And they not only gave Valkyrie a modern look, but also replaced the previously turn-based gameplay with a combat system based on combo attacks, which is a bit reminiscent of games like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry in terms of speed and complexity. And that, as I said, is fun, at least under certain conditions. The main story and the worlds of the kingdom of Midgard, through which we mainly slice, can quickly cause boredom. And that’s why the return of Valkyrie after such a long stint on the bench is bittersweet on modern gaming systems of the current era. Let’s explain why below.
Fighter sent by the Allfather
The premise of Valkyrie Elysium is as follows: Ragnarök threatens the existence of all worlds, and Allfather Odin creates the Valkyrie as his soul reaper to collect the souls of the deceased. These heal Odin who was injured in a fight with Fenrir. For this it is necessary to get mystical artefacts from the realm of the living, Midgard, so that the Allfather can steer the ship Skidbladnir.
OK, understood! The Valkyrie listens carefully to Odin’s words and nods. The Valkyrie does not question her mission, of course not, but stubbornly follows her destiny. That’s a good thing. After all, Allfather Odin is the boss here with a plan! The god, smiling smugly from the throne, always lets us know this when we return to the main hub Asgard after the task is done and kneel before him and report back. Then he sends his Valkyrie out again with a new mission to restore his power.
The Valkyrie only questions the fact that Odin’s righteousness isn’t that far off until after a few interactions with people, whom she takes along as Einherier and thus as combat support. She also meets mysterious figures like the Valkyrie Heide and young Armand, and is then plagued by some blurry visions that justifiably give her a headache. So at the earliest halfway through the game, the Valkyrie looks skeptical when it comes to Odin. We, on the other hand, the players, damned to watch, of course, want to wipe the fat grin off the face of the Allfather after the first few adventures.
Four ends to a hallelujah?
What we want to say with that: The main story and its outcome is already so blatantly predictable after the first of about 18 to 20 hours of play that we wonder why the Valkyrie does one task after the next so lazily. But okay, she was created by Odin. Of course, that earned him a few sympathy points. After all, there are four different endings that you can play, and some of them take a little more and some a little less playing time.
One bright spot in this entire story of Odin and moral quirks are the Einherier, who we recruit as combat-assisting entities throughout our adventures. Their stories give the game world and the Valkyrie itself a profile, and their interactions with each other give the world emotions and understandable motivations while the Valkyrie stoically works through Odin’s shopping list. After all, there is something that makes a lot of fun: the fight!
The Valkyrie sets off from its Asgard lobby to individual, relatively stringent regions of Midgard. Initially, she is only equipped with one weapon, but as the missions progress, many more can be found. With these weapons, we use a combo system to string together clever, super-cool, visually outstanding and powerful attacks – and that’s exactly the big advantage of Valkyrie Elysium (buy now €69.99 )!
While the levels that the Valkyrie travels through are mainly reduced in terms of color, the attacks with weapons, divine arts (quasi magic) and the Einherier shine in almost every color of the rainbow. Because we move through so many monochrome-looking, desolate rural and urban scenarios that leave little room for exploration, each fight is a feast for the senses strained by uniformity for the spectacle of color alone.
The first encounters with the undead remnants of Ragnarök are as follows: run towards the opponent or pull yourself towards them with the soul chain; the latter is a standard Valkyrie ability that provides super mobility in combat. Hack at the controller buttons while trying to remember one of the weapon’s countless combo attacks. Use divine arts to exploit the enemy’s elemental weaknesses, which fortunately are always displayed above their heads between the life and status bars. Dodge or block to maybe trigger cool finishers. And then smack the opponents who have been overloaded with the divine arts and who are standing around stunned (in the game this is called “inhibited”).
Fun is what you make of it
That sounds simple and it is. That’s what makes Valkyrie Elysium so much fun. The Einherier, which were formerly constant companions of the Valkyrie in the game series, are now temporarily summonable warriors that offer one great thing above all: they strengthen elemental attacks of a certain school, depending on which of the four Einherier is called into battle. Eygon boosts lightning attacks, for example, while Kristoffer buffs holy magic.
Although there are no more turn-based battles in Elysium, we can still pause the game at any time, even in the middle of a fight, throw in potions, equip other divine arts or even weapons. Practically! This helps especially in boss fights, whose elemental weaknesses we should always exploit to stun them. Not the right divine art for the next Naglfar? No problem, it can be exchanged quickly. The stuns mentioned are especially cool for bosses. When the opponent’s status bar is full, it will quickly drain to signal when the stun ends. Shortly before the end, we throw a divine art at the opponent, because that prolongs his inactivity and helps immensely in tricky situations.