announced in the same state of affairs showcase like Star Ocean: The Divine Forcethe return of the valkyrie series with Valkyrie Elysium it’s not getting as much fanfare as it perhaps deserves. With a PS5, PS4 release just weeks away, a demo quietly released on the PS store is one of Square Enix’s last hopes of generating excitement. The good news is that it is likely to work for those who take a chance. While Valkyrie Elysium is unlikely to set the world on fire, this is a rock-solid action RPG with a fun combat system and satisfying abilities.
The demo covers the entire first chapter of the game and some side quests, and you’ll be able to carry over your progress to the full experience if you like what you play. An introduction in a stunning throne room sets up the story, and then you’re sent to a hilltop castle for the first series of encounters. The fights and battles of Square Enix’s latest aren’t doing anything particularly original, but they make up for it by feeling satisfying and fun.
Valkyrie is equipped with the usual sword and dash abilities that many action games have made standard, so she sets herself apart a bit with a Soul Chain ability and elemental powers. The former can be used as a magic whip, latching onto enemies and pushing Valkyrie forward to immediately close the gap between them. If she’s trying to keep warm on a particular enemy, it’s a great tool to use. Then there are elemental powers that can trigger weaknesses and deal damage from afar.
A good trick is the Crushed state, which immobilizes a combatant if you combine one of your powers with their greatest weakness. Find the same type of enemy and you could freeze them all in place in one go. We can report this as a very satisfying action after triggering the effect several times during the demo.
We can’t wait to see how the complexity of the combat system grows in the full game, but suggestions for character upgrades, new weapons, and more abilities to use have already whetted our appetites. Three skill trees divided into offense, defense, and support are complemented by separate weapon upgrades. How deep Valkyrie can go into Elysium remains to be seen, but the signs are positive. The demo already gives us our first steps in juggling an enemy in the air with our sword slashes, so hopefully the sky is the limit.
We want those possibilities to extend to level design as well because the demo we played remains incredibly linear throughout. Occasionally you will come across an optional path that you can take, but the only thing they usually carry is a treasure chest or a plant on the ground that represents someone’s memory. For the most part, you’ll be introduced through a single dirt road or passage to the next combat encounter. Everything is a bit boring.
There’s also an odd juxtaposition with the visuals, where the art style is quite nice but some of the textures are very poor quality. The game can look beautiful in parts (Valkyrie’s character design is lovely to look at, for example), but then the debris she leaves in her path looks poor. Presumably, this is a fairly recent build of the game, so it’s a bit concerning to see this glitch present so close to release. Still, there is always the day one patch.
With release now exactly two weeks away, Valkyrie Elysium deserves a lot more attention than it’s getting if the demo is anything to go by. It won’t come close to being the best action RPG of the year, but Square Enix’s title is shaping up to be something really enjoyable for those quieter periods when your slate is clean. An action-packed experience in the hope of a deeper combat system, keep Valkyrie Elysium on your Christmas list for some hack and slash fun.
Have you paid much attention to Valkyrie Elysium before release? Have you tried their new demo? Share your thoughts in the comments below.