Valkyrie Elysium – ITNetwork

The world is doomed, and all hope rests on your shoulders. Then there is no pressure.

That’s the setting for the latest title in Square Enix’s Valkyrie series, Valkyrie Elysium. Created by Odin, your task is to bring salvation to a world ravaged by Ragnarok. And so you will travel to Midgard, completing all the missions he entrusts to you. Soul purification is the main one, as is obtaining items of great power. But the more you get stuck in your task, the more you question your actions. What exactly does renewing the world entail?

Valkyrie Elysium doesn’t have the most interesting story, but it grows on you as its protagonist grows as a person. At first she is cold and wooden, but as she meets the spirits – the Einherjar – who come to accompany her on her adventure, as well as the people who reside on Midgard, she becomes much warmer and likable. And so by the end, you might have grown a little attached to her and her crew.

Divided into numerous chapters, Valkyrie Elysium sends you and your team of Einherjar to a series of locations, each visibly ravaged by war. You’ll move through them in a fairly linear fashion, getting into more than your share of combat encounters along the way. But it doesn’t matter, because this is where Valkyrie Elysium shines. Or at least eventually, anyway.

Valkyrie Elysium is one of those games that gives you most of its tools during the tutorial, but takes them away once the game proper starts. And so, after you’ve learned how to summon your Einherjai companions into battle and use their abilities, you’re suddenly without them, leaving the combat feeling a little more sterile. You’re also stripped of your spells, but at least you’ll keep your Soul Chain, a useful device that allows you to quickly close the distance from your enemies.

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The first few chapters of Valkyrie Elysium are therefore somewhat enjoyable, but also lack a certain spark. Your limited moveset and abilities stifle combat, essentially. But as you progress, befriend the Einherjar, gain new spells, and collect the gems needed to grow Valkyrie’s stats and learn new abilities, as well as upgrade her weapons, it all becomes much more enjoyable indeed.

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Ultimately, every combat encounter has the potential to become utter mayhem as you and up to four Einherjar pummel everything on the screen. But it’s the kind of chaos that’s fun and electrifying. You won’t mind that the camera can sometimes be a pain. But it’s never foolproof: the elemental system you need to use takes care of that. If you don’t use the correct elements when facing enemies, the fights will be much more difficult. Especially when it comes to huge boss fights.

It’s a shame there isn’t much to get excited about other than the exciting Valyrie Elysium battles. The environment is mostly bleak, and while you sometimes get the chance to explore, the rewards for doing so are often disappointing. Also, outside of the main quest, there are a number of sub-quests you can take on, but they’re mostly uninteresting. Add in the budget feel when it comes to presentation – poor lip sync, stiff animations etc – and you have a game that doesn’t live up to its potential.

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Still, from its likable characters to its thrilling combat, it’s hard not to have fun with Valkyrie Elysium from start to finish. Most players will need at least ten hours to complete her story, with those sub-quests, bonus endings, and even more fleshing out the experience for others. There are even flower collectibles and skills that can only be unlocked by leveling up a skill with a certain weapon. The more you put into Valkyrie Elysium, the more you get out of it.

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Essentially a character action game, Valkyrie Elysium doesn’t worry genre heavy hitters like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta. But while many of its components are merely adequate, its frenetic combat elevates it from mediocrity. You can have a lot of fun here, summoning Einherjar, using your Soul Chain to move around the battlefield, and using more advanced skills to decimate your opponents. Ultimately, it’s not going to set anyone’s world on fire, but it’s definitely worth spending some time with.

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