Valkyrie Elysium Review

Richard Walker

Square Enix's Valkyrie series has enjoyed something of a cult status since its inception on the PlayStation in 1999, with Valkyrie Profile, spawning a sequel for PS2 and a PSP port of the first game (subtitled Lenneth), as well as a couple of spin-offs. Chances are, you may have missed the last four Valkyrie games, so it's just as well Valkyrie Elysium requires no prior knowledge of the other chapters in the series. Indeed, Elysium feels like a completely fresh start, commencing as it does with the creation of the eponymous Valkyrie – a powerful vassal for Odin, tasked with purifying souls in an effort to aid the All-Father in regaining his strength before the dawning of Ragnarok. What follows is an absorbing and delightfully moreish action RPG, boasting a robust combat system and a more than adequate level of depth.

Have some of that, whatever you are.

At the behest of Odin, you'll do battle with monsters plaguing Midgard, wielding swords, spears, or staffs, powerful elemental magic known as Divine Arts, and summonable allies known as Einherjar. Initially, it's rather a lot to take in, although the opening tutorial does a decent, swift job of holding your hand through the basics; and, before long, you'll be tackling legions of enemies with aplomb, keeping an eye on their weaknesses, as helpfully signified by an icon embedded on their health gauge. Each foe also has a 'crush' meter, filled when you manage to overwhelm them with sustained attacks according to their specific elemental weakness – max out the gauge and they'll enter a 'crushed' state, leaving them dazed and vulnerable. Larger enemies and bosses can even be temporarily immobilised, should you overwhelm them while they're crushed, and if you want to keep the pressure on, you can zip towards an enemy by tethering to them with Valkyrie's Soul Chain. It can be chaotic, but rarely is Elysium's real-time battling unenjoyable.

As with any action RPG worth its salt, managing to deploy the right abilities to rip through hordes of monsters proves rewarding, as does exploration to find hidden chests containing loot. And much loot there is, too, with Valkyrie's abilities and weapons requiring countless gems of various colours and rarity to upgrade. You'll also find spell tomes and runes secreted away in some chests, offering more devastating versions of Divine Arts and weapon buffs, respectively. It's always worth taking the time to wander off-piste and explore Elysium's expansive, labyrinthine maps – you never know what you might find. Sometimes it'll be a collectible 'Hollow Blossom' with a story to tell, or, occasionally it'll be a subquest issued by an ethereal lost soul.

After nine lengthy main quests, things can start to feel like a bit of a grind, and flat characters spouting fairly boring, portentous dialogue don't exactly help. As Valkyrie assembles a band of Einherjar – which invariably involves having to defeat a 'Naglfar' boss – you'll be subjected to stories of their fate, their hopes, dreams, and whatnot, and the delivery makes it difficult to care about almost any of it. Odin, meanwhile, is a far cry from the mighty god we've seen in other adaptations of Norse myth – in Valkyrie Elysium, he's a foppish dandy with impeccably shiny long blonde hair, decked out in white clothing, ornate gold jewellery, and quilted boots. This is Odin as dressed by Vivienne Westwood or Stella McCartney.

While Odin's ostentatious look is a departure from other renditions seen elsewhere, there's something oddly sterile about Elysium's rendition of Valhalla, all reflective marble floors, gilt trim, gaudy chandeliers, and opulent furnishings. You'll spend time in Valhalla between missions, reporting to a brattishly ill-tempered and ungrateful Odin, before heading out to slay even more corrupted demons with your faithful Einherjar buddies, Eygon, Cypher, Kristoffer, and Taika, navigating your way between regions and quests via the 'Astral Globe'. And while the action can become a mite repetitive over time, the strength and variety in the combat keeps you hooked, even if there's a paucity of differing enemy types, especially for a game of Elysium's size and scope.

Odin is a right knobhead.

Some levels can seem a little overlong, too, although, mercifully, each one is peppered with 'Storage Camp' crystals, where you can enhance weapons and save your progress, so you don't have to dig in for hours on end, if you'd sooner dip in for a brief spell. Still, auto-summoning Einherjar to assist you in counter attacks, timing-based parries and dodges, soul steals, a generous combo counter, and other wrinkles to the combat provide more than adequate interest over what could have otherwise felt like a protracted slog through Elysium's take on Norse mythology. Gems and yellow souls for skill upgrades, spilling from vanquished enemies and chests, bring a sense of constant progression, while the act of summoning Einherjar to imbue your attacks with lightning, ice, holy powers, or fire, lend a modicum of strategy to proceedings.

While it may not look particularly spectacular (the game doesn't exactly push the PS5 much from a technical standpoint), and its story is delivered in a rather dour and uninspired way, there's something about Valkyrie Elysium – as far as single-player action RPGs are concerned, few are quite as relentlessly addictive and enjoyable as this, making any quibbles regarding its presentation pale into insignificance. It might not be worthy of a place among the gods, then, but Valkyrie Elysium will more than satisfy any mere mortal thirsty for a spot of Norse myth before God of War Ragnarök arrives in November.

Valkyrie Elysium

Don't worry if you've never played one of Square Enix's Valkyrie Profile games before – Valkyrie Elysium is a standalone story ideal for newcomers, which also happens to offer accomplished action RPG combat and exploration. Like Valkyrie herself, this is close to godliness, but falls slightly short in achieving true greatness.

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The soaring orchestral score by Motoi Sakuraba is wonderful, while the voice work is decent enough. I couldn't decide whether I preferred the Japanese or English VO, so my advice would be to try out both.


Elysium's rendition of Valhalla and Midgard are nice and detailed, although the art and design might not be to everyone's tastes. On PS5, the hardware never breaks a sweat, and, indeed, this looks like something that primarily belongs on PS4.


Fast-paced and immediate combat make Valkyrie Elysium an always-enticing thing worth dipping into, while exploration and a sprinkling of RPG depth help to keep the experience engrossing across its 15-20 hour runtime.


Nine expansive main quests, loads of subquests, collectibles, player upgrades, a training ground, and four different endings ensure that Valkyrie Elysium is suitably broad in scope. The only downside is that it gets a bit grindy and repetitive towards the end.


A very achievable Platinum that covers almost all of the requisite bases, with an endgame that enables you to mop up anything you've missed. Completing the game on hard difficulty might prove a bit pesky, mind.

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