In keeping with the tradition of Square-Enix’s major releases this year, Valkyrie Elysium is only the latest in a number of RPGs out in 2022 to include a public demo that carries over into the full release. Square-Enix graciously allowed us an advance look at Valkyrie Elysium on the PlayStation 5 ahead of tomorrow’s public demo release date.
The latest in a growing cadre of Valkyries, players take the role of Maria, a flaxen-haired young woman tasked by the All-Father Odin (complete with neck armor to bandage the otherwise fatal wound left by Fenrir) to help stave off Ragnarok, which is already coursing its way through the Be'elzean Territory. It’s an all too familiar tale for the likes of Valkyrie Profile after three prior games in the series, but Valkyrie Elysium promises to give at least a slightly different look to the tale, at least one without Freya or Lezard Valeth making an appearance early on.
As is common with modern sequels and RPGs, Valkyrie Elysium follows the typical mission-based structure that most gamers will be familiar with, offering a relatively easy introduction to the world of Valkyrie Elysium. After a brief tutorial introduction that introduces combat mechanics little by little to Maria and her Einherjar, the moments that follow are relatively straightforward.
Through Odin’s domain serving as a hub world, players can explore an empty environment that will grow and be filled with various NPCs and perhaps a vendor or two as the story continues. At the very center is a local map that provides players with their next mission, whether it’s story-focused or a side quest to be picked up through passing soul visages left throughout those story missions. For the first chapter, this only yields a couple of story missions and side quests before the demo comes to a close. These missions take place across the same two map locations, often starting from a different beginning and running through the map from back to front rather than front to back.
All of the combat encounters take place on the open map with enemies you can clearly see from a distance. When it comes time to do battle, that’s where Valkyrie Elysium quickly diverts from the past three entries. Maria is best adept at action combat against soul and foe alike, wielding not one but two weapons she can swap between during combat. For the demo session, these were two variations on the one-handed sword (the other being a rapier), so it would be interesting to see which other weapon types she’ll have an affinity for. The Einherjar that only shows up in the tutorial mission also features different attacking types, including your standard archer that can keep the pressure up from afar.
The Einherjar in Valkyrie Elysium operates a bit differently than what one might expect. Maria can summon them to battle like a Chaos Legion Legionator where they will attack autonomously for a time before disappearing. Both Maria and Einherjar can also attack with skills of the elemental sort. When Maria summons an Einherjar with an element that matches her skill, those attacks will be more effective both in terms of damage and in breaking through enemy defenses.
While brief, the Valkyrie Elysium demo does give a decent look at both the combat and how Maria can grow in power. Her health totals are increased by gathering rare items four at a time, while the crystals she earns from purifying weird souls can be invested into one of three skill trees. These skill trees are relatively linear in nature so far, sometimes requiring two abilities to be picked up before the next tier can be unlocked. Only a handful of skills can be unlocked, including special counter abilities and a double jump before the demo cuts off leveling, though those skills and any leftover crystals can be carried over into the full release.
All in all, I got about two or three hours of enjoyment out of the complimentary Valkyrie Elysium demo, which piqued my interest in the full release. From the signature Motoi Sakuraba soundtrack to another take on a familiar Valkyrie tale, I’m curious to see where the story goes from here. Players can get their own hands on the upcoming public demo for Valkyrie Elysium ahead of the September 29th release if you’re on consoles. Sorry PC players, you’ll have to wait until November 11th to do The All-Father’s bidding on Steam. There will also be a Digital Deluxe Edition for $74.99 that includes a port of the PSP version of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth.