A few days ago, I had the chance to finish Valkyrie Elysium, the newest title in the Valkyrie Profile series, so I’m going to share my experiences that will hopefully help you figure out whether or not you should be playing Valkyrie Elysium in 2023. The review copy was kindly provided by Square Enix – so massive thanks for that, and without further ado, let’s talk about the game!
When it comes to the story of Valkyrie Elysium, I wish I could say I was completely into it from the beginning until the very end, but for me personally, it took quite a bit of time to connect to the characters. It’s only natural to perceive a Valkyrie as someone cold, uninterested in human endeavors and focused on her goal, but at the same time, I’d lie if I said that kind of approach didn’t hurt my overall experience a bit. I only started being really invested in the story around chapter 6, and since there’s only 9 of them, you could say the game had kind of a slow burn. The payoff for the true ending was decent, but the rest were… Well, let’s say that the slow burn didn’t exactly climax into what I would call a satisfying experience afterall. It was okay, and for as long as you don’t expect the game to suddenly have a completely different feel to it, you might find some joy in exploring all of the endings.
Lorewise, the absolute carries and champions of the story were the Einherjar. Their back stories, interactions with the Valkyrie and with each other, even their battle abilities, made the game worth playing through and exploring, just for the sake of unlocking their full lore. I was able to connect with them a lot more than with Valkyrie, I felt for them and was excited to be able to interact with them, and that made all the difference.
When it comes to combat, I can say that – without a doubt – this is one of the strongest points of Valkyrie Elysium. If you want to feel good about running around, hacking, slashing, breaking, exploring and pulling off some cool battle combos, this might be something you’ll find worth investing your time in. The game systems that are tied to combat like weapon advancement, talent tree, acquiring new skills for your einherjar, as well as the spells and knowledge you pick up along the way, tie up very nicely to the core of Valkyrie Elysium combat. Exploration is rewarded, as there are chests and loot all over the place that can help you upgrade your skills and weapons faster, which make the combat super interesting in my opinion.
The art style and design of Valkyrie Elysium was primarily one of the things that got me interested in the game, and I can say that the game has delivered a unique experience from the start until the very end. I enjoyed the cutscenes, the camera angles were on point, and the boss design kept getting better and better. If a game being pretty is something that’s important to you, I’d say Valkyrie Elysium is definitely worth it, as I believe it’s a step in the right direction – at least when it comes to artistic value.
When it comes to voice acting, I’m actually pretty impressed with the delivery. I immediately recognized the soothing, familiar voice of the Valkyrie as Tremina from the DioField Chronicle, and although DioField reviews have been quite mixed at its core, I enjoyed the voice acting immensely. Even though I didn’t quite manage to connect to Valkyrie until the last few chapters, the personality given to her through Holli Dempsey’s voice is very well crafted. The other characters are very well delivered in my opinion, at least when it comes to the English cast, as that’s how I chose to play the game. I normally like to experiment and hear the game in different languages, but I had a very hard time imagining the settings of Norse mythology while listening to the voices in Japanese. You could argue that English doesn’t have much more to do with it either, but I did watch a lot of Vikings and The Last Kingdom, so in my defense, I’m very much used to it.
Let’s talk about the game’s performance. Overall, I didn’t run into any problems worth mentioning, and the Steam version of the game runs quite smoothly. However, I did stream my Valkyrie Elysium playthrough, and it’s the only game that made it hard for me to do other things while streaming, like opening other tabs, tweeting about it and whatnot. I also turned down quite a few effects and graphics improvement options in order to solve this, and overall I had a good experience. If you’re not a streamer (and even if you are, with more than just modest equipment), you’ll probably be able to run it at a much higher quality, but this is just what my experience was like.
Now, let’s discuss world building, this is unfortunately where my review gets less than positive. The game looks gorgeous as it is, but it allows very little non-linear exploration. Even if you choose to go back to a certain area, from time to time, your Valkyrie will stop you in your tracks and tell you that you should be heading elsewhere. This makes it very difficult to collect all the Hollow and Verdant Blossoms throughout the map in one go, and that has been my greatest concern, as collecting them actually unlocks the option to see the real ending of the game.
The fact that you can’t just spawn yourself in a zone you’ve previously completed to collect stuff, but instead you have to reload and redo an entire chapter again to make sure you’ve got it all, was the most defeating feeling ever, as I am not a big fan of artificial prolonging of playtime. This led me to a total lack of immersion, as I had a guide open on my second screen even while streaming, to make sure I know where I need to go in order to collect all of them in one go. I feel like this entire endeavor has been manufactured to keep players engaged without trusting that they will come back to play the game, which can build a lot of resentment in return.
Unlocking free exploration of the zones upon their completion without having to restart a chapter and do it all again is, in my opinion, the best way to go about it, and if anything, it serves as a valuable lesson for the future, as there are plenty of players who simply gave up on completing the game because of this – for reference, only about 12% of the current Steam players have completed the game on Normal difficulty. However, collecting the Blossoms did prove to be a worthwhile endeavor, as those cute, little stories made the game so interesting, and the final lore payoff after collecting all Verdant Blossoms was very, very good.
Even when it comes to side quests, I failed to feel engaged enough to go through them, as they were mostly all the same – you encounter a spirit, they ask you for help, you kill some minions, open a chest and that’s that. Rewarding as they are, they’ve failed to demonstrate the vastness of the world that I so desperately wanted to experience fully, and that made me kind of sad.
Overall, I think Valkyrie Elysium is a solid game that you should definitely try out, especially if you’re a fan of the Valkyrie Profile series, or Norse mythology in general. However, the base game can be completed in about 12 to 15 hours, and considering some of the questionable things about it, I don’t believe you should be investing into it at its full price as of now. In my opinion, you should wait for some of the bigger sales that include Valkyrie Elysium and get it for less.
What is your opinion on Valkyrie Elysium and do you think it’s worth playing in 2023? Let me know in the comments! I’m sure anyone would appreciate your two cents on whether Valkyrie Elysium is worth it. You can find my full Valkyrie Elysium playthrough HERE, should you want to check it out, but beware of the spoilers and tread through the lore bits carefully if you haven’t played yet!