A Middling New Square Enix Action-RPG

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Sq. Enix’s Valkyrie Profile sequence of RPGs has been dormant for rather a while, with the past complete-fledged entry staying 2009’s DS sport Covenant of the Plume. Now, on the other hand, a brand name new entry has arrived in Valkyrie Elysium, which brings with it a change from the franchise’s change-based mostly fight procedure to a true-time action just one. Unfortunately, when that snazzy new beat program can be exciting, Valkyrie Elysium is a bit also generic an action-RPG to be the jolt of new daily life this collection deserves.

Valkyrie Elysium is developed by Soleil, the studio at the rear of the 2020 motion-RPG Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time. And like Valkyrie Elysium, that activity wasn’t an epic RPG on the scale of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 or Persona 5 Royal. You know, the kind that feature grand, sweeping narratives throughout time and house together with considerable character improvement over the study course of 100-furthermore hrs. It was a far more modest sport, and Soleil proved they ended up up to the activity, seemingly making them a rather fitting studio to deal with Valkyrie Elysium. But that much more modest scale (alongside with what was plainly a lessen advancement spending plan than those of lots of significant Square Enix RPGs like Final Fantasy) hampers the sport, generating it feel at times like a compact-scale adventure straining to convince you it’s an epic for the ages.

A female character in battle armor is depicted on a stats screen, with numbers and percentages attributed to things like Physical Attack and Magic Damage Reduction Rate.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

Valkyrie Elysium follows a younger woman called—you guessed it—the Valkyrie, who goes close to purifying souls during the land in order to help save the environment. She follows orders from Odin, the deity who guidelines more than the earth. The tale is fairly predictable early on, with Odin’s pretentious air a dead giveaway that this arrangement will not last substantially for a longer time. You can currently inform that there is anything not very proper with the Norse god as he sits on his throne looking down on Valkyrie, as if he’s scheming to stab her in the back at some issue. The way the tale plainly will work to retain Odin’s intentions and procedures of “saving” the environment cloaked in shadow also clues us in, with no subtlety in any way, that something is amiss.

During the story, Valkyrie meets four Einherjars, which are spirits that provide her. The Einherjars become encouraged by her quest and be part of her. The interactions concerning Valkyrie and her new companions add a whole lot of individuality to the sport, regardless of whether it is in the inquisitive Kristoffer asking Valkyrie if she’s warmed up to people towards the latter fifty percent the tale, or Eygon blushing as the other Einherjars poke enjoyable at him when he mentions that the most popular element of the Valkyrie fantasy that stood out to him was that they were beautiful.

The vibrant characterizations of the Einherjars are all the far more welcome due to the fact Valkyrie’s very own identity is dominated by 1 unique, considerably drab observe: her unflinching loyalty to Odin. She develops a bit a lot more as a character when she begins to keep in mind bits and parts of her previous, as perfectly as when she uncovers Odin’s motivations, but it is the Einherjars that help liven up the mood.

A scene of battle shows a few figures on a lane in a village, with health bars, targeting reticles, and other HUD elements.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

Fortunately, the new beat method Valkyrie Elysium delivers to the series is the game’s greatest power, carrying out the significant lifting through the journey and finding up some of the slack left by the generally-bland story and environmental design.

The star of the demonstrate is the Soul Chain, a mechanic that makes it possible for Valkyrie to latch onto enemies from afar and shut the length so she can get started chaining attacks, Devil May perhaps Cry style. The Soul Chain feels exceptionally enjoyable, not completely contrary to the grappling hook in Halo Infinite. It has no cooldown timer, either, so you can zip all around the battlefield from enemy to enemy at your whim. It feels exhilarating.

In fight, the Einherjars act like regular RPG social gathering associates. Valkyrie can summon two at a time to combat together with her. Each individual Einherjar has a specific factor that can strike enemy weaknesses like lightning or ice, so you’ll have to strategize about which two to provide out at the moment relying on the enemies you are going through. The mechanic plays out in the same way to Scarlet Nexus’ SAS procedure, making it possible for Valkyrie to imbue her weapon with an aspect of whichever two Einherjars are currently deployed.

A character screen depicting the Einherjar Eygon, a dark-haired man with a massive sword slung over his shoulder.

Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku

Progression feels properly paced, as enemies drop gems that Valkyrie can spend in to study new skills and update the electricity of her numerous weapons. Having said that, there are some difficulties with the overcome. Despite the enormous mobility Valkyrie receives by using the Soul Chain, she nonetheless feels really weighty since once she executes an assault, she definitely has to commit to it all the way by means of. There is actually no way to terminate your assault, and this can be a trouble when you can see an enemy coming from driving but you are powerless to prevent it because of to getting locked into whichever attack you are presently performing. Moreover, when Valkyrie gets knocked down, she normally takes ages to get back again up on her toes.

This sluggishness is compounded by the point that Valkyrie also simply cannot swap Einherjar aspects or her weapon in the center of a combo. She simply cannot even adjust them while in the air, or when traveling toward an enemy employing Soul Chain. Obtaining to hold out until finally she’s completed with her current action to swap factors or weapons often interrupts the move of combat.

Thankfully, the boss fights are a emphasize. Struggling with them demands a substantially a lot more methodical strategy than common encounters. Just spamming attacks like you may possibly in standard battles is a recipe for demise. Right here, Valkyrie has to utilize all of her defensive actions as effectively, these types of as dodging right as the enemy hits her to activate a Bayonetta-like sluggish down period, or blocking it alternatively and then adhering to up with an devastating automatic counterattack.

As for how you navigate the earth, Valkyrie Elysium works by using a mission and hub base construction. You choose a primary quest or facet quest and then you are transported to the corresponding spot. It is far too lousy that most of all those areas start to seem repetitive as the video game goes on. You continuously see related broken medieval properties and bridges, with a bit of environmental variation each now and again—this time you may be surrounded by oceans, the next by ice-capped mountains. At least the visuals are pleasant to look at, notably the way that blue feather plumes rush out of Valkyrie each time she operates.

Valkyrie can also appear across aspect quests from souls that haven’t moved on to the afterlife. These provide some exciting facet stories, this sort of as 1 in which you enable out a youthful woman who is unable to go on thanks to the regret she carries arguing with a boy she beloved. She blames herself for his destiny, pondering that if she hadn’t argued with him, then matters could’ve turned out in another way, and she desires to make amends with him in advance of transferring on—it’s up to Valkyrie to reconnect them yet again.

These facet quests emphasize the game’s topic of hope, that even when the environment and its inhabitants are dying (or previously dead), that there’s a glimmer of optimism someplace out there. Valkyrie is hope. These optional errands offer you a great distraction from the primary plot that or else can be wrapped up in about 15 hrs.

Valkyrie Elysium feels substantially far more like a spin-off entry in the Valkyrie Profile franchise than a whole-fledged new key title. Its smaller sized scope, price range, and style and design lend it a “PlayStation 2 game” come to feel. The game’s combat is its preserving grace, alongside some pleasurable character interactions. With out the Valkyrie title and branding, Elysium could’ve quite very well been published off as a fairly generic action recreation.

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