Valkyrie Elysium's Demo Makes a Strong First Impression

Valkyrie Elysium, the new action-RPG from developer Soleil Ltd. and Square Enix that is billed as a new entry in the Valkyrie series is nearly here. If you are familiar with the original Valkyrie Profile, however, there have been significant updates to the classic formula in its latest outing. Ahead of the Valkyrie Elysium demo's release, had the opportunity to preview the title on the PlayStation 5 thanks to Square Enix. It is a fairly short affair and one that I personally completed in just over an hour, but it gives a good idea of what to expect from the title's gameplay if not its story.

Given the lengthy period of time between now and the last official installment of the Valkyrie series, it should come as no surprise that Valkyrie Elysium treads its own path. The last console release, if you count the Nintendo DS, was 2009's Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume. That title was a tactical role-playing game while the original Valkyrie Profile from 2000 was more of a standard PlayStation JRPG for the time. Valkyrie Elysium eschews both in favor of being an action-RPG.

(Photo: Square Enix)

For many folks, Valkyrie Elysium is likely to be the first video game in the Valkyrie series that they will have picked up. As such, the fact that it moves away from what the previous games have been like mechanically isn't actually a huge concern, especially given the proliferation of action-RPG titles like Nier: Automata in recent years. In some ways, the shift will almost certainly make it feel more familiar than if it had tried to completely recapture the magic of the original.

It does, however, largely borrow the same narrative formula steeped in Norse mythology. A nameless Valkyrie, at least in the promotional material and demo, is sent by Odin to prevent Ragnarok and purify corrupted souls. These souls can seemingly then join up as an einherjar, a ghostly figure that the Valkyrie can summon to help in battle. These are present in the tutorial sections of the demo and seem to be a major factor in its combat system, but the story of the demo seemingly does not include them outside of that.

(Photo: Square Enix)

Instead, the Valkyrie must rely on their own abilities and weapons. Helpfully, these can be significantly upgraded through investing gems and souls, unlocking new ways to combo one attack into another or adding passive bonuses like more health. Divine Arts can also be discovered, which are essentially Valkyrie Elysium's magic, that deal different kinds of elemental damage.

The gameplay emphasis in the demo is on figuring out how to strike at enemies' weaknesses using a combination of different types of weapons and elemental attacks. Striking enemies weak to it with Lightning Bolt, for example, can stun them and allow for an easier time dealing damage, and different enemies can also have weaknesses to a specific type of weapon. While the demo only covers a brief section of the game's opening, it seems fairly clear that a major part of Valkyrie Elysium will be about juggling these to make sure you're dealing the maximum amount of damage possible, which is simple enough thanks to the fact that elemental weaknesses are directly labeled on enemies when you lock onto them.

(Photo: Square Enix)

It's hard to say what the full video game will look like at launch based on such a small slice, but the demo itself is promising. Considering that it is set to release for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on September 29th prior to a PC release via Steam on November 11th, it seems unlikely that too terribly much will change. The combat is a satisfying mix of different abilities all chained together toward a common goal, and the introduction to its story is intriguing if not exactly immediately captivating.

If you're curious about Valkyrie Elysium, the demo should provide ample opportunity for you to see if it's for you. It's not going to give you a full and complete picture, but the snapshot it offers will be able to steer anyone that's been on the fence in the right direction. Little more than that could possibly be asked of a free demo for an upcoming video game.