Valkyrie Elysium Review – Niche Gamer

Valkyrie Elysium Review – Niche Gamer

Valkyrie Elysium

Valkyrie Elysium is an oddity to the Valkyrie Profile series at large. The first two titles were on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 respectively, and both were heavyweight RPGs that came late in the consoles’ life cycles. This latest entry emphasizes 3D hack and slash action over what the games were known for.

These were turn-based RPGs that featured 2D action-platforming elements, where the player assumed the role of Valkyries collecting the souls of warriors to prepare for the impending battle of Ragnarok. The last time we saw this franchise was as a strategy RPG on the Nintendo DS – a game so hardcore and difficult that it killed the series.

Can Valkyrie Elysium bring the Norse saga back from obscurity? With the tri-ess no longer shepherds of the Asgardian mythos, it is on the shoulders of Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time developer, Soleil Ltd., to revive it. What connections does it have? Lenneth and Silmeria? read this Valkyrie Elysium review to find out!

Valkyrie Elysium
Developer: Soleil Ltd.
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release date: September 29, 2022
Players: 1
Price: $59.99

Valkyrie Elysium get a lot of things wrong before the game starts. “Elysium”, is not part of Norse mythology, it is ancient Greek teaching about where souls go after death. After realizing this error on the title screen or box art – a chill of concern climbs up your spine, like a cunning snake about to lure a woman to an apple.

“Where else could things go wrong?” you begin to wonder as a low-budget intro animation plays out. This sloppy exposition tells an inaccurate story of Odin’s battle with Fenrir, who is not killed by Víðarr in this interpretation. Instead, Odin triumphs over the massive wolf and needs to recover from the battle.

The player is tasked with leaving Valhalla and seeking the various equipment that the all-father Odin needs to regain his powers, recruiting a few unicorns along the way. Once the story gets going, very little happens. Valkyrie Elysium has a very sparse plot with only a handful of characters.

There are only four unicorns inside Elysium– a pittance compared to previous games that would have a staggering 40 total fair party members. This is where the low budget becomes apparent and only gets worse the longer you play.

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Between the limited cast, low-budget cutscenes, repeated enemies, recycled assets, and barren levels; it’s hard to believe that Valkyrie Elysium is a fully priced title.

The story in Valkyrie Elysium also suffers from the lack of scope. With such a small cast, it’s not hard to stay ahead of the action and figure out where it’s all going long before it does.

As for the cast itself, the main character is a completely cold and boring character who comes off as a dumb stone for not putting together obvious cues.

For the longest time, her name is almost never said, and everyone just refers to her as “Valkyrie”. It wasn’t until the data logs were analyzed that it was revealed that her name is “Nora”. Odin is particularly poorly characterized.

The All-Father looks nothing like his previous iteration i Valkyrie profile, nor does he have any of the features that the Norse myth describes. Early on it was thought that he could actually have been Loki and misled the player, but it is actually Odin.

Surprising, Valkyrie Elysium manages to have multiple endings. Considering how many corners had to be cut to give the impression that this was a full priced game, there is some replay value. The gameplay is quite short – even for a 3D action game. Clocking in at around 15 hours, most players will have seen all of this Valkyrie Elysium has to offer.

Playing normally, Nora’s romp in Midgard will be very easy. There’s no way to adjust the difficulty either, which seems like a bug since the levels are picked from a menu in a hub. This could have been an easy way to let players choose their preferred challenge between stages. Once a player selects a difficulty, there is no change to it.

Most players expect the game to start off fairly easy and adjust to increasing difficulty. Valkyrie Elysium on normal never gets harder. By the time you realize it’s too easy and you’ve maxed out healing potions and nothing can stop you; the only option is to restart the entire game on hard or try to stay awake during a very simple hack n’ slash.

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After the disappointment of the barebones narrative and lack of continuity with Lenneth and Silmeria washes over you like awful sewage, maybe you can try to appreciate the finer points of Elysium. There are some good qualities to have, and they just might catch you off guard after expectations were set so low.

The fight in Valkyrie Elysium is the highlight by a mile. This is made by the team that made a very underrated Samurai Jack the game, and they brought a lot of panache to the kinesthetics and Nora’s playability.

It’s not perfect; some of her animations are prioritized during some attacks that cannot be interrupted. Once players get the hang of her handling, she can be a lot of fun once enough time is spent expanding her moveset and she has a few spells under her belt.

Lots of stylish action game mechanics are all present and stand for: parrying, perfect dodging, charge attacks, air juggling and generous i-frames when dodging.

On top of all the refined basics, Nora also has a grappling hook. She is able to close gaps between enemies very quickly, and it even has a very effective guide that rarely fails.

Nora is able to rain down divine hellfire like a real one Æsir and champion massive enemies, while summoning four warriors to kick them while they are down. There are plenty of options while in battle, and it never seems like the player will be limited with their approach.

Along with the amount of effects on the screen, the sound and visual feedback make every hit very satisfying. Battles tend to become a storm of particle effects, sparks and explosions. It becomes tangible, with everything that is felt.

Where the gameplay lags is how side missions are handled. During the main story, players can come across wayward souls and talking to them unlocks the ability to do the side quest later on the world map. The side missions always recycle the maps, mix up enemy locations and change the route the player must take.

On top of this, the side quests rarely amount to anything other than standard combat and exploration. Rewards are usually a stat boost, a spell, or a new weapon, which also lack variety. There are only six (eight if you count the DLC), and only three of them are good to use, while the others feel too slow.

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The graphics are a mixed bag, but mostly feel good. The main complaints are the dreary and plain places. Some views are truly impressive and character models are appealing and easy on the eyes. This is an Unreal Engine 4 game, so it has that signature look that most UE4 games tend to have.

The artists chose a subtle black outline shading on the models. The effect helps make characters pop more and adds an illustrative quality to the visual identity. Unfortunately, Nora’s “Naruto” running animation is some of the dumbest ever, and she looks intensely stupid as she dashes around with her arms behind her back.

A lot of Valkyrie Elysium may feel cheap, but the score never does. Matoi Sakuraba’s music can be hit or miss. He has a very distinct sound and thankfully his worst qualities are not expressed here. This soundtrack sounds very classy and airy, and perfectly matches the style and tone of the game’s visuals.

Valkyrie Elysium has some pretty sad lows, but it has some high points that make it endearing. The developer clearly has a lot of talent for making stylish 3D action games on a budget, and they got the most important parts right.

For what you get, Valkyrie Elysium not recommended at full price. It’s fun to have, but it’s more of a guilty-pleasure kind of fun, like Stranger of Paradise. Fans of previous entries will be confused and disappointed, but most players will enjoy the visceral and fast-paced action.

Valkyrie Elysium was reviewed on PlayStation 5 with a copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information on Niche Gamer’s Rating/Ethics Guidelines here. Valkyrie Elysium is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.

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