There’s something clearly old school about Valkyrie Elysium, and we don’t mean that because it’s part of a long-running franchise; A series that began in 1999 with the turn-based JRPG Valkyrie Profile. It’s a game with an almost PlayStation 2 style design philosophy, for better and worse, and who you’re here for will determine whether or not that dated approach is appealing.
Set in the middle of Ragnarok – the end of the world in Norse mythology – the dashing king Odin has created a creature known as the Valkyries to do his bidding after his apocalyptic war against a large evil wolf named Fenrir. You play as one of these Valkyries, and Odin’s bidding involves setting up tons of monsters with different weapons in nine levels in different, but often aesthetically similar, locations.
The story is absolutely nothing, and there’s not much to sink your teeth into if you’re here for a sizzling thread about gods and kings and mythical creatures. It only gets mildly interesting about four minutes before the credits begin. Your Valkyrie is cool and one-note for most of the game, and Odin may even have worn a T-shirt with “I’m really evil” printed on the chest. There’s a soft-spoken villain that’s fun, and some of your teammates add a little spice to the proceedings, but Valkyrie Elysium is mostly a fascinating affair.
The lack of taste extends to the level design as well, the places you’ll visit are mostly large empty spaces as in many early 3D games; Artificial, dull and lifeless, like they exist solely to fight for you. We know it’s the apocalypse, but it doesn’t look like any exist or ever exist in this world beyond the handful of characters you meet on your travels, and while there are very few collectibles to find and there are menial side-quests to unlock, exploration is basically non-existent.
And then there’s graphics. There is something visually disturbing about Valkyrie Elysium. The characters and some elements in the environment are accented with thick black outlines that might work in a more visually daring title, but what it just means here is that the Valkyrie and the members of his party look as if they were in the same world. Not where the local people are. They came It’s like bad CGI in a live action movie, sticks out like a sore thumb, and can be quite unpleasant to watch at times.
If that wasn’t enough, the cutscenes are interrupted by dodgy lip-syncing and some absurd animations. There are some pop-ins when you’re moving around the world, and the frame rate sometimes drops a bit, especially during busy battles. If you told us that Valkyrie Elysium was a PlayStation 3 game that was remastered for the PS5, we’d believe you.
All that stuff we’ve just said probably sounds off-putting, and make no mistake that this game is definitely flawed. But if you don’t care about any fluff, any stuff, and you want a hackin’ a ‘slashin’ action RPG that offers satisfying combat and interesting mechanics, we think Valkyrie Elysium Saves in main .
You have all the usual fast and heavy attacks and magic spells and dodges you’d expect in a game like this, but you can also summon Einherjar – Warrior Ghosts to help you in battle. You’ll recruit soldiers souls throughout your adventure and then once they’ve joined your party you can summon them by holding R1 and tapping the face button. You can customize how long your summon friend will be by your side in battle, with the offset that the longer they stay the less often you’ll be able to call them.
Each summon comes with an added bonus in that when you summon an Einherjar, your weapon is affected by the element associated with that warrior. So if you’re in a fight against a fire monster and that fire monster hates ice, summoning your ice means that your ghost friend will do great damage against the creature with their attacks, but you’ll also need to take on your weapon. Bonus damage will apply.
Enemies all have a weakness, and if you constantly inflict damage that they’re vulnerable to, they’ll eventually enter a “crushed” state, which basically means they’re immobilized for a short period of time So that you can moan over them until they run out of it. You can summon up to two Einherjars at a time, and knowing what time to call to take advantage of your enemies’ weaknesses is part of the joy of battle.
Another inspired choice when it comes to combat is the soul chain, or in layman’s terms, your magical grappling hook. When you target an enemy, tapping L2 lets you hook onto them and get into their position instantly. Soul Chain’s range is fairly generous, and so battles become a ballet of attacking and dodging and then zipping up the other enemy on the other side of the room, sending them, zipping up the boss, and removing your Einherager. and then when you see a massive attack to zip up another distant enemy, using your soul chain from the boss to avoid the explosion.
The levels are fairly short and it shouldn’t take more than an hour to watch, and we polished off the entire game in sixteen hours. Conciseness, here, is a virtue. There’s really no padding other than the extra feeling side. It’s a series of battles against increasingly difficult enemies and then it’s over. Combat is by far the game’s strongest hand to play, but faced with a limited pool of enemies it was a wise decision to keep the adventure short and sweet and end it before it gets stale.
Valkyrie Elysium is a two-part game. The level design and objectives seem at least two generations old and the characters and story are more like placeholders than finished text. There are no capital F emotions or much in the form of narrative justification here, but if you’re okay with that and you only want fifteen to twenty hours of fast, frantic, fluid fighting we can just recommend it.