Valkyr is a highly addictive hallucinogen. In addition to the extremely vivid hallucinations, long-term users suffer a high probability of completely losing touch with reality.
In 1991 the United States government began funding a secret research program code-named Project Valhalla in hopes of creating a performance-enhancing drug to boost the combat effectiveness of soldiers. Alfred Woden, a member of the secret society called the Inner Circle, was heavily involved in the project. The program was shut down in 1995 after unsatisfactory results. Rather than improving soldiers, the drug turned them into mindless, psychotic killers.
Nicole Horne, a fellow member of the Inner Circle and the head of the pharmaceutical giant Aesir Corporation, took over the project in secret. Aesir continued research and development of the drug in an underground bunker disguised as a steel foundry in New York City.
While Aesir was unable to create the potent supersoldier serum they had originally hoped for, they did manage to synthesize a highly addictive recreational drug. In the late 1990s Aesir began selling the drug on the black market. It proved extremely popular on the streets and Aesir began paying many organized crime groups, the Punchinello Family in particular, to deal it for them.
By the events of Max Payne, the city-wide addiction to the drug has become a full-blown epidemic.
Max Payne's Involvement
In 1998 Max's wife, Michelle, accidentally received documents pertaining to Project Valhalla while working at the District Attorney's office. Nicole Horne learns of the leak and fearing exposure, sends three highly dosed test subjects to the Payne residence. Max returns home to find Michelle and his infant daughter murdered, leading to his decision to go undercover for the DEA and setting up his eventual discovery of the conspiracy.
In the 2008 film, Valkyr is depicted as a glowing blue liquid which is drunk rather than injected by the user. The film version of the drug is manufactured by the Aesir Corporation from start with no government involvement, although the plan to create a substance which would impart soldiers with enhanced stamina and morale remains the same. The drug proved effective as an enhancer in only one out of 100 tests subjects.
Users of the film version of the drug experience highly vivid hallucinations of Valkyries from Norse mythology. These hallucinations tend to lead the user to commit highly dangerous and often suicidal actions.