Valkyrie Elysium Review - Putting the "Mid" In Midgard
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Valkyrie Elysium Review - Putting the "Mid" In Midgard

Names hold a lot of power, particularly in the world of entertainment media. When the name of a beloved franchise is attached to something, it brings a lot of things with it: nostalgia, excitement, and perhaps most importantly, expectations. Valkyrie Elysium is no different: It bears the name and lineage of an RPG series known for daring, experimental gameplay and storytelling that's fervently beloved by a loyal group of fans. Unfortunately, this middling action-RPG that the Valkyrie titling is attached to bears little resemblance to the bold, beloved games that preceded it.

The story of Valkyrie Elysium, set up during a brief cinematic at the beginning, takes place smack-dab in the middle of Ragnarok, the end of the world foretold in Norse mythology. Odin, the All-Father and highest of the gods, has been mortally wounded in a battle with Fenrir and requires the strength of souls to restore his power so that he can revive the dying world. To accomplish this, he summons forth a Valkyrie, the legendary vessel of the gods who leads chosen souls to glory in Valhalla. Valkyrie is tasked with purifying wicked souls, finding the worthy to bring to Odin, and recovering sacred treasures. But, as you might expect, all is not entirely what it seems, and Valkyrie faces a conflict between her duty as a servant of Odin and her increasingly conflicted emotions.

If you've played the original Valkyrie Profile, you'll recognize many very similar story beats here--but without the emotional weight or interesting character drama. The transformation of Valkyrie from devoted, single-minded soldier to conflicted heroine doesn't feel genuine: We're simply told that she's becoming more empathetic to humans with little evidence to back it up. The Einherjar--fallen warriors who Valkyrie recruits to aid her in battle--have some interesting backstories, albeit told in a haphazard, disjointed means that's supposed to inspire curiosity and mystique but only leaves you confused until you read their profiles and play some side quests.

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