Valkyrie Elysium Review – Strong Hack and Slash Combat In An Empty World

Valkyrie Elysium Review – Strong Hack and Slash Combat In An Empty World

Valkyrie Elysium is a revival of the cult classic Valkyrie Profile RPG series. Unlike the original games which were turn-based, this game is an action RPG hack and slash title more akin to Devil May Cry or Nier.

Reviving an old beloved franchise and adapting to a new audience can be difficult, and when I originally played Valkyrie Elysium in a preview, I thought it had a few flaws, but the potential to be much better since I only played the first chapter. However, after completing the entire game, it’s a perfectly okay game with a good combat system, but is held back by an uninteresting plotline and boring world.

Ragnarok is coming

Ragnarok, the end of the world is upon us and corrupt souls are scouring the land. In this time of crisis, Odin sends Valkyrie down to earth to fight the damned and prevent the coming apocalypse caused by the evil wolf Fenrir. Along the way, she meets several fallen warriors whom she resurrects to be her Einherjar (pronounced ‘en-harry-are’), spirits who fight alongside her in battle.

I won’t mince words, the story of Valkyrie Elysium is pretty barebones. The game has nine chapters, totaling around 15-20 hours of playing time. The main gameplay loop is that Odin gives you a mission and you go out to carry it out, meeting new Einherjar and a couple of other characters along the way. While the game has a lot of cutscenes, the writing feels rushed with characters briefly explaining their backstories before going into more general jokes and quotes. There are even times when characters seemingly change personalities out of nowhere to fit where they need to be in the story.

None of the characters get much development. Valkyrie herself seems to be going through an arc of becoming more human and regaining her emotions, but she’s so far too stoic throughout the adventure that it’s hard to really see it. You’re also given hints about the backstory of the various Einherjar as you recruit them, but once again, it’s very fleeting with the only true explanation coming from their in-game bios, which many players may not even read.

In general, the story felt quite clichéd and underdeveloped. Especially towards the end it became quite predictable and the conclusions felt rushed. There were some good ideas here like Valkyrie linking up with the unicorns, but they just don’t get enough screen time to flesh them out.

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The battle

What it lacks in story and characters, Valkyrie Elysium makes up for in its frenetic hack and slash style. You have a light and medium attack as well as a jump and dodge button which, when upgraded, can be used to perform new attacks, quick dodges and counter attacks. You start with one weapon, a broadsword, but gain access to more as the game progresses.

The combat feels fast-paced and smooth with no frame drops or misses. Right from the start, putting together combos is pretty easy, but as the game goes on, it will expect you to incorporate more into your arsenal, especially the quick dodge. This involves dodging right before enemies hit, which slows down time and allows you to get into more combos (Zelda BOTW and No More Heroes 3 have similar features). Doing this correctly will also reward you with more health, spirit and skill points that allow you to use your magic.

Another cool mechanic is the fatal strikes that allow you to attack a downed enemy with a dynamic cinematic finishing blow. These are incredibly satisfying to complete and are implemented seamlessly in matches

There are two types of upgrades in the game. You can upgrade your various weapons at the save points found on each map, which will unlock additional moves to try out. You can also upgrade Valkyrie’s stats like health, power and magic using a skill tree in the main menu.

You upgrade both of these systems by using a variety of different gems that enemies drop when you kill them. I like how accessible and self-explanatory these upgrade systems are. Just from looking at them, you can immediately understand how they work, what they do and what you need to do the upgrades. They even let you demo each new move in a tutorial if you want to try them out before a real match.

The combat overall isn’t quite as complex as something like Devil May Cry, but there’s enough here to make the game challenging to master and keep the battles fresh with new abilities. Not to mention, it’s pretty nice to have a more light hack and slash where you can just complain about the AI ​​every now and then.

Magic and Einherjar

valkyrie elysium

Outside of physical prowess, Valkyrie can use two types of magic. The first is skill-based magic that allows her to summon various elemental attacks such as fire, lighting, or healing.

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Her other skill is to summon her Einherjar, who will fight alongside you in battle for a short period of time as AI-controlled partners. While AI partners have a shaky history in RPGs, I can safely say that Einherjar is the best part of the game. They can’t die so you don’t have to worry about them as they destroy your enemies. It feels incredibly satisfying to bring them out and fight alongside them to cut down bigger enemies like a general calling the cavalry into battle.

There are a total of four einherjars, with different types of elementary management. An interesting mechanic is after using a magic skill or summoning an einherjar, Valkyrie’s weapon will gain the same element. This can then be used against enemies who all have different elements and weaknesses. This becomes the main strategy in most fights as you want to figure out what magic to use to go against them as opposed to mindlessly throwing out every einherjar.

The heart of the Valkyrie series is supposed to be the relationship between Valkyrie and Einherjar, and while it doesn’t show much in the story, it certainly does when you fight them in gameplay. That’s when I felt most connected to them.

An empty world

valkyrie elysium

The world of Valkyrie Elysium is a dull and dreary post-apocalyptic earth. You will travel through the ruins of former cities, villages and castles. At first I thought this created a good atmosphere, setting up the dying world you have to fight for, but after playing through more of the game, it just started to feel a little too sad.

The areas are well detailed, but quickly began to feel repetitive and lifeless as the game progressed. The layout of the areas is often muddy with a lot of dull gray and brown generic medieval buildings in most areas, even when they change location with snow level or swamp level they still felt very similar. If it weren’t for the arrow pointing you through the area, you could easily get lost since so many of the landmarks look the same.

Similarly, you can complete a number of side quests that give you rare items or even new skills for einherjar, but these side quests mostly involved fetch missions or killing more enemies on levels you’ve already beaten. You’re essentially playing a smaller portion of the same boring levels that aren’t really worth the trouble.

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Where is everybody

Another problem with the levels is that there are almost no NPCs in the game. There are few characters in the game period apart from Valkyrie, Odin, The Einherjar, the enemies and one other human named Armand.

All of the few remaining NPCs are disembodied spirits represented in-game by a small blue flame with little of interest to say before you drop a sidequest and leave. There’s even a point in the game where characters talk about one of the few remaining human settlements, but it’s hard to care since you never see any other people, including the one being talked about. It went beyond setting a gloomy tone and caused the game to feel too lifeless.

Yes, I know it’s explained that most of humanity has died, but other RPGs like Nier and Shin Megami Tensei, despite also having bleak post-apocalyptic settings, still take the time to make the world feel alive and lived i. With Valkyrie, when combined with the bland story, the world just feels empty and provides little incentive to want to explore further.

Final thoughts

Overall, I think Valkyrie Elysium is a solid action game that is let down by some serious flaws. The combat is legitimately fun, especially when you summon the einherjar, but everything other than the combat system feels underwhelming. I also like how accessible the mechanics are with a very easy pick-up-and-play feel to actin and upgrades.

However, everything surrounding the match is not very interesting. The story feels rushed, the characters are underdeveloped and the world and level design is too boring. I understand that story isn’t super important in every game, but for a 20 RPG I feel like there needs to be something that motivates you to keep going, whether it’s characters, world building, or fun levels. Valkyrie Elysium unfortunately does not have these.

If you’re looking for a new hack and slash game with some accessible but challenging combat, Valkyrie Elysium is a good time, but with a little more polish and better writing, it could have risen even higher.

valkyrie elysium score



The match is fast paced and exciting

The story feels rushed and predictable

The Einherjars are useful and satisfying to fight alongside

The levels and world feel repetitive and dull

Valkyrie Elysium is available for PS4, PS5 and PC.

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