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This is how Valkyrie Elysium revives the essence of this mythical RPG saga

Valkyrie Profile is a saga much loved by JRPG fans. Many of us discovered it with Valkyrie Profile Lenneth, one of our favorite PSP titles and a port of the original. Unfortunately, after two more deliveries, we did not hear anything more about the battles between Valkyries until today. In 2022, they return in the form of AJRPG.

The first Valkyrie Profile was released in one of the most wonderful eras of JRPG and RPG adventures: 1999. A year later Vagrant Story would be released, and two years before that came Final Fantasy VII. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the genre was at one of its best moments. Commercially it was successful, which allowed the creatives to take risks both with the stories and with the playable proposals. It was thanks to this that a title so dramatic, beautiful and with such special combats could become a reality: Valkyrie Profile. To write this text, I played a few games of Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth, the version of the first one released on PSP. And the truth is that it is still perfectly playable today. But the surprising thing about this game is not so much how you feel at the controls but rather its world, its lore, its protagonist and the basis of its battles. It has a universe so rich that it inspired the creation of various manga. If you search for “Valkyrie Profile Enix Supercomic Gekijoh” you can still find them online. All that magic has traveled to the present in a new installment called Valkyrie Elysium. in it is all that essence with a twist to the action that makes the combo system of the original its own.

The Valkyrie saga is inspired by Norse mythology, and focuses its attention on the Valkyries. These warriors are in charge of guide the dead to Valhalla by order of Odin. And it is precisely on these fallen soldiers that both the gameplay and the story of the franchise are focused. In the original, Lenneth could find them around the world, recruit them and thus learn their stories and the reason for their tragic fate. Seizing them, he was allowed to take three into battle.

The Valkyrie and her “einherjar”, ​​which is what these disgraced souls are called, were assigned a button on the controller. The result was turn-based combat without turns. We could attack in the order we wanted, successively or at the same time by touching triangle, circle, square or X in the order you wanted. That made for cool combos, chain reactions, and synergies between your soldiers. Namely, the action has always been very present in the series. Add to that non-linear 2D dungeon exploration, side-scrolling, and a masterful story. The question now is how has all that carried over to 2022?

More than 20 years later, the fourth chapter of the series arrives if we do not count remakes or additional episodes on mobile. It will be called Valkyrie Elysium, and its great novelty is to translate that combero dynamism of the original into pure action. It is not the first time that the franchise has changed genres. In 2009 Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume was released on the Nintendo DS, and it was about strategy. But even being a tactician, the battles had a lot of rhythm. Because the Valkyrie Profile saga has always had that little point of risk, innovation and desire to constantly update their own legacy. In Valkyrie Elysium, the Valkyrie that we will drive will not be the one from the first game, Lenneth, but Maria, but her mission will be similar to hers: collecting souls of deceased champions. That is, she will also have to find einherjar to help her in combat; and she had better do it and find the strongest ones. After Ragnarök, the world is on the brink of destruction. In the sword of Mary is the destiny and future of the planet. The interesting thing about having a new protagonist is that you will not need to have played any of the above to understand the history of the gamealthough there will be winks to them as a tribute to the fans of always.

A tragic and epic story, a house brand

Valkyrie Elysium: This is how Valkyrie Elysium revives the essence of this mythical RPG saga

There is something that has always been very attractive about this saga and that will also be here: the Japanese reinterpretation of western myths, from the Norse in this case. Valkyrie Elysium represents Odin, the dead, the Valkyries and the terrible giant wolf Fenrir with that apocalyptic touch so manga. Those of us who love anime are fans of its stories about the end of the world and its poetic way of portraying these momentous moments. I am referring to the fields of white flowers, the mystical sunsets, the ruins, the tragic characters and his existentialist struggle for victory. That has been carried many times to the video game and it is a theme that the immortal anime Neon Genesis Evangelion made especially its own. In titles like Kingdom Hearts or NieR: Automata there is always a battle that takes place on two different levels: the one that happens on the other side of the hero’s sword and what happens inside. Both are equally interesting, and one cannot be solved if the other does not come to fruition.

Valkyrie Elysium PS5

If you’ve recently played God of War and Kratos’ journey through Midgar, you’ll notice the different ways Western Santa Monica and Lancarse, the Japanese developer of this game, have interpreted Norse mythology. Both are exciting, but also very different. The Valkyries Kratos faces share the same origin as Maria. Legend has it that Odin, abandoned by his wife and queen of the Valkyries, forced them to stay in the world in physical form. The difference is that, in God of War, Valkyries are said to be divine beings, so being material drives them mad and only death can give them rest. That is why Kratos charges at them with all his strength and they respond with violence. However, in this title, the weight of said curse is another: to wander the world with the weight of the rebirth of the earth or its destruction on his shoulders.

The interesting thing about having a new protagonist is that it will not be necessary to have played any of the previous onesAnd why doesn’t Odin himself take it upon himself to save the world? Because after his battle with Fenrir, the monstrous destroyer giant wolf, the god cannot move freely. That is why he entrusts his Maria to search the world for his weapons, become powerful and fulfill this mission. And what does our Valkyrie want? Does María understand that her struggle is fair and that the world must survive? And the dead that she welcomes in her bosom to accompany her in battle? What do they have to say about all this? All this reflection is what takes us from the stories of Taro, to the anime of the 90s and to the very Japanese existentialism that abounds in these productions. This will be the tone of the cinematics and the talks between characters, and what will lead warriors into battle. By ditching the turns and focusing on the action, this allows the developer to introduce cutscenes during the encounters themselves, better merging the narrative with the part played.

The battle of the Valkyries imagined by Japanese

Valkyrie Elysium

Maria, our Valkyrie, is a character tortured by her nature as a Valkyrie and the mission imposed by Odin. All the dead she encounters, and who will help her on her quest, will test her resolve and they will question their very nature. Through those conversations is how we will know his past and his future, both during the cutscenes and when fighting. Continuing with comparisons to NieR: Automata, her gameplay isn’t as fast as Yoko Taro’s. It is somewhat slower to be able to better manage combat, use magic, have a better understanding of combat, collaborate with our einherjar and get the combo as long as possible. The truth is that its cadence is more similar to that of Elden Ring, only with a less sober presentation, with more dynamism and with a more anime touch.

The game shines especially in the clashesWhen you start hitting an enemy, a combo bar will be activated. Before this disappears, we have to connect another impact either with our spells, assistants or through executions. That brings rhythm to the battle, consistency and style. We also have to avoid being hit. We have a dodge and parry system to achieve this. With these options, Valkyrie Elysium rewards Let’s play nice and effectively. The truth is that this playable approach, and this fusion of history and battles, has reminded me, in a very positive way, of those hack and slash of Playstation 2, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 that mixed cinematics, combats and huge bosses so well. Titles like God of War II, Dante’s Inferno or Kingdom Hearts itself and that are not seen so often anymore. In fact, the game shines especially in the clashes against their final bosses.

Valkyrie Elysium PS5

The artistic line chosen to desEsports Extrasthem is sometimes reminiscent of Final Fantasy XV and others of Bayonetta. Back in the original Valkyrie Profile, reaching a final boss was a celebration, and it’s the same here. A large combat arena is displayed, ready for us to test everything we learned during the previous phase. It is in these battles that the video scenes are mixed with the combat itself. As in Kingdom Hearts III, after dealing a large amount of damage or changing the enemy’s phase, the camera joins the gameplay to show the best shot of the action, teach the effects of a devastating attack and return control to us to continue with the combo. This spectacularity is not new in this installment of the saga, since Lenneth already played with the lights, the black fades and all the technical features of PSX so that we understood that the Valkyries were elegant and lethal beings in combat.

How Valkyrie Elysium wants to evolve the AJRPG

Valkyrie Elysium

Square Enix is ​​betting heavily on transferring its most mythical sagas to a new audienceIt is clear that Square Enix is ​​betting heavily on transferring its most mythical sagas to a new audience. This year he tried his luck with Stranger of Paradise in collaboration with Ninja Team. The result was a game with many points in common with Nioh 2. This time, the approach is towards the hack and slash more classic and roleplaying, with those not-so-frantic cadences that allow you to use your brain, calculate each hit and pull off stylish combo-based combat. If The DioField Chronicle seeks to renew the tactical JRPG through a more agile combat system, Valkyrie Elysium seeks the same for the Valkyrie Profile saga to, incidentally, serve as a new experiment to advance the publisher and developer’s own AJRPG . With these two interesting proposals, moving forward two twinned but so different genres, it remains to be seen what Star Ocean: The Divine Force will offer to the JRPG in which the strong point is exploration.

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