While the tri-Ace development team was best known for its ocean of stars franchise that spanned several five (soon to be six) major releases across a myriad of platforms, for those in the know, their somewhat underrated Valkyrie Profile were pleasant appointments on PlayStation 1-2. More than a decade after the last mainline installment, and with a different development team (Soleil) in tow, Square Enix has relaunched the Norse mythology-inspired franchise with Valkyrie Elysee. Going from a pure RPG game system to a 3D action hack’n’slash experience is Valkyrie Elysee the return of an old cult-classic franchise, or something that will be forgotten in the annals of time soon enough? Read my review to find out.
I think the biggest problem is Valkyrie Elysee return from the heights of its predecessors, it is the change of genre. The 3D action hack’n’slash experience has been done so many times in the past, while the JRPG is where their loyal fanbase is. The gameplay is competent. The experience is rounded off with intricate dungeon designs, challenging bosses, and a pretty cool support summoning system. However, the game doesn’t do enough to stand out from other games in the genre and lacks variety in side missions and weapon/character development. Especially since there are monoliths of the kind like Bayonet 3 and others that click on his heels, even if not directly competing with them, more could have been done to set him apart. As it stands, the gaming experience feels like it was designed for a handheld game console, and there was neither the capacity nor the audience to justify going all-out. Finding a better fusion between the original or new genres, or otherwise adopting the less impressive but technologically challenging style of previous titles, could have made this a must-have classic JRPG on the new generation of gaming consoles.
Plus, in another case of “it’s fine, but not hitting the heights the show once was,” we have the narrative. Its storyline is reasonably enjoyable and well plotted, effectively drawing on its roots in Norse mythology and having intriguing ideas interwoven into both the main storyline and the side quests you encounter as you progress through the story. However, the experience is hampered by slow pacing, poor character development, and the fact that the gameplay regularly feels more focused than the story.
With a soundtrack featuring the works of Motoi Sakuraba, Valkyrie Elysee is for the most part a feast for the ears, with many hits that are perhaps not so memorable, and more than adequately suit the tone and storylines of the game world. Additionally, the English dub is also quite good, with a small but vibrant cast that seems to be mostly new to the video game dubbing scene. In terms of aesthetic design, I feel Valkyrie Elysee falls into the category of not having the best design quality, but has that attention to detail that makes none of the areas you pass through through Midgard seem too bland or copy-pasted. I would compare it a bit to NieR in that sense. Don’t expect this to be the most visually pleasing game in your library of last-gen consoles.
Valkyrie Elysium is an overall enjoyable experience that offers solid concepts, gameplay, and difficulty, backed by an incredible soundtrack. Especially for fans of the series’ storytelling, Norse influence, or hack-n-slash action genre, you’ll find an enjoyable, albeit slower, experience awaiting you. But even if it’s worth playing, it’s probably not the episode that will see the long-term resurgence of the Valkyrie Profile series, who deserves future love and attention.
Developed by Soleil Ltd and published by Square Enix, Valkyrie Elysee is now available for purchase on PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.
This review was based on a PlayStation 5 (digital) review code.