Valkyrie Elysium is bringing an A-RPG spin to Ragnarök
We've been hands-on with Square Enix's upcoming action-RPG and we were pleasantly surprised.
It isn't too long until Valkyrie Elysium arrives on PC and PlayStation consoles, as by the end of the month, PS players will be able to dive in and check out this fantasy project. But just ahead of launch, we've had the chance to check out a bunch of the game as part of a recent Square Enix event in London, and here we got a glimpse of the narrative, lore, combat, and progression systems that it will offer up.
For those wondering exactly what Valkyrie Elysium actually is, this game is basically an anime action-RPG game, with some J-RPG elements embedded within. What I mean is that the game will almost remind you of Dark Souls crossed with Genshin Impact, all with a lightly cel-shaded art direction, and with some combat stylings and upgrading paths that feel very Final Fantasy-like. It's an unusual bunch of combinations, but it really, really works, and the gameplay feels very engaging and unique because of it.
As you can probably tell from the "Valkyrie" part of the series' title, Norse mythology is what this game is framed around, as here we find a story where Odin, the All-Father, has created the perfect tool for bringing peace across Midgard and stopping Ragnarök: you, the Valkyrie. With this being your purpose, you are sent to the realm of mortals to find and destroy any undead souls or nasty creatures that are plaguing the world, by using your talents as a sword fighter and magic-wielder, but also with the aid of the spectral Einherjar warriors that you can summon in combat (think Summons from Final Fantasy).
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The combat is quite fast-paced and almost slasher-like. You can use various light and heavy melee combos with your sword, and then can spice things up by casting Divine Arts elemental spells (such as a lightning strike or a fireball) at the cost of some Mana. And, as I mentioned earlier, this is all on top of using the Einherjar allies to cause some extra havoc, with each warrior coming imbued with an elemental typing as well. It all flows together incredibly smoothly, and makes for a combat suite that is fast-paced, engaging, packed with depth, and doesn't feel as sluggish and punishing as that of a lot of action-RPGs.
And this extends to the exploration as well, as you can look to use Valkyrie's abilities to jump, and to grapple to new heights with her Soul Chain, and even use the Einherjar to bridge large gaps or break through destructible walls/objects - all in an effort of finding chests and loot that will better and improve Valkyrie as an individual. You'll want to do this, as it's in chests that you will come across new spells, weapons, and valuable items that can be used for upgrading. This suite is quite straightforward, and largely revolves around using a combination of gems and other found loot to raise the level of a weapon, to therefore make it more powerful and deadly in combat. As for Valkyrie herself, this progression suite is more of a simple upgrading tree, where you can improve the Divine Arts, Einherjar, and other parts of Valkyrie's kit, with skill points obtained by defeating enemies.
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Looking towards the sorts of foes you will have to face off with, these range from simple humanoid spectres that wield swords, shields, and bows, to nightmarish, ghoulish creatures that are often elementally charged, all the way to airborne gargoyle-type adversaries, and even boss-level foes that have much more health and will require more strategy to best. To handle the challenge of combat, many enemies do have weak points that can be targeted, which will often stun them or deal a massive sum of damage when destroyed, and to add to this, you can get creative with Valkyrie's Divine Arts and elemental skills to break the defence and stun certain enemies as they are using slow but heavy attacks.
I did mention earlier that the game has a cel-shaded style of art. This isn't quite to the level of, say, Borderlands, but it does give Valkyrie Elysium quite a unique appearance, and one that often leaves you wowed as you explore the breath-taking vistas of Midgard.
But all in all, I have to say that Valkyrie Elysium was one of the best offerings of the Square Enix event I attended recently. This is a game I am thoroughly excited to experience in full when it gets its PlayStation launch in a couple of weeks. It's fast-paced, exciting, looks amazing, and has enough uniqueness to it that should be able to stand on its own in the increasingly crammed action-RPG scene.