It’s been a long time since Square Enix did anything with the Valkyrie Profile series. Outside of the mobile outing with Valkyrie: Anatomia in 2016, the last time there was any activity on the mainline front was 2008’s Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, and before that, a PlayStation Portable port of the original Valkyrie Profile in 2006. Nearly 15 years later, the company has decided to revisit that which was left on the dusty shelves of history with a new, fully featured console release in Valkyrie Elysium.
Set to launch on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and eventually PC, Valkyrie Elysium recharges the Japanese action RPG series for this new generation. To illustrate the ins and outs of their new title, Square Enix has seen fit to release a demo on the PlayStation Network. It covers Valkyrie Elysium’s first chapter and offers up a look at the combat systems and fast-action gameplay. As a bonus, save data from the demo can be carried over to the final release when it launches on September 29.
As far as demos go, the one for Valkyrie Elysium isn’t anything to shrug over. Clocking in at over two hours, it’s filled to the brim with tutorials to ease you into the action battle systems as well as the beginnings of a story steeped in Norse mythology. It’s par for the course for the series but as a newcomer, getting to know what Valkyrie Elysium is going to be about for the long haul is very important.
Taking control of a Valkyrie is the core concept here as you’ll spend a lot of your time slashing through enemies with a sword keen on heavy attacks and ultimate moves. One of the main mechanics attached to your Valkyrie is the Einherjar – a warrior summoned to your side by spending a stock known as Soul Gauge. Einherjars are temporary and only join you for a finite amount of time, however, you can return them to battle once your Gauge fills back up. Should you need help, an auto assist feature can be enabled in the settings too. At least in the demo, up to four Einherjars can be equipped with the capacity for two active at a single time.
An ability called Soul Chain allows the player to platform around and explore locations within the environment and even tackle enemies. The Soul Chain gimmick further feeds into combos and the like as well, which makes it a unique addition to the usual action RPG move set. The battle system in Valkyrie Elysium offers up another feature with the addition of Divine Arts, or magic. Match elements with the Einherjar for a greater chance to deal higher damage to the enemies on the field. By satisfying the Elemental Crush bar and targeting enemy weaknesses, your foes can be stunned into submission. It has the beginning of an intricate system that will surely develop over time played in the full game. Figuring out those weaknesses, swapping through weapons, and casting spells in tandem with the summoned Einherjar makes for a thrilling battle pace.
On the visual front, Valkyrie Elysium is a fair step up from the previous games in the series, not only due to the new generation hardware but also in relation to other recent Square Enix titles. The character models are finely detailed and the muted colors match the overall tone the story seems to be aiming for. Performance in the demo was also a positive, with a smooth experience in both combat and field exploration. The presentation is topped off by new music by composer Motoi Sakuraba - famous for his work in the previous Valkyrie games as well as the Star Ocean and Tales of series.
Following the tutorial, the demo will ease you into the main quest system where you’ll be tasked to uncover the narrative and pick up a few side quests along the way. There’s a look at some other features that will be available in the full release such as items, weapons, and other equipment, along with a skill tree of sorts. You'll be gathering up gem items from downed enemies to spend on the aforementioned upgrade paths including abilities and weapon power-ups. They’re standard modern RPG elements but effective in showing off the amount of customization that’s likely to be had along the way.
Overall Valkyrie Elysium is shaping up to be another solid outing from Square Enix. While the series remained dormant for some time, perhaps it was for the best. The development team has gathered up their best efforts and put together an interesting action RPG experience that I’m keen to see more of soon.
TechRaptor previewed Valkyrie Elysium on PlayStation 5 using a demo downloaded by the writer. It's also available on PlayStation 4.