Do you find SRPG'S boring? Do you get tired of watching silly automatic battle sequences every time you engage an enemy? This is the game for you. Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume mixes the strategic game play of Final Fantasy Tactics with the action of Valkyrie Profile so well that it never gets boring, battles are always intense and fun and you never get tired of them. This is coming from someone who dislikes SRPG's and finds them boring due to the fact that the game play takes too long. Covenant Of The Plume speeds things up a bit with it's formations and link attacks.
The game play in Valkyrie Profile COTP is unique as unlike most games, if you send in a single unit/character against an enemy, you're going to get slaughtered, you have to strategically position your units so that they can support one another and ambush your enemies with a pincer attack but beware they will do the same to you, and quite often no doubt so be on your guard and be aware of the enemies formations, one false move can mean death and death is never good. One of the biggest additions is the sin system. Every scenario has an objective and a sin quota. Your goal is to complete the objective whilst acquiring as much sin as possible which is easier said than done. Fail to obtain enough sin and you will be punished in the next scenario by a realmstalker. They're really tough. If you manage to fulfill the sin quota, you will be rewarded with bonus items for the trouble, the more sin you acquire with each scenario, the better the rewards.
In Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume, playing piggy in the middle is a dangerous game
To acquire sin you have to overkill an enemy unit. After an enemy's hp goes to zero, every hit afterwards will go towards sin acquisition, you can get a maximum of 100 sin per unit, do not waste the opportunity to overkill an enemy, the rewards are too good to pass up, especially if you're following the A path. Sin acquisition can seem quite taxing at first, especially if the objective requires you to protect a particular character but it is this challenge that makes this game an enjoyable experience. To get the most sin in a scenario, you must overkill every single enemy on the battlefield by 100 sin and whilst you could go straight for the enemy leader, missing out on the sin bonus could make later battles much more difficult as not only will you have to fight a realmstalker but you will also miss out on the valuable sin bonuses which give you a huge advantage in later battles.
On the contrary, if you're looking for a challenge you may opt to disregard sin acquisition and deliberately fail to achieve the sin quota in order to collect the chains which drop from the realmstalkers. Doing so may take multiple playthroughs of a game though as you will miss out on a lot of important loot that you will need if you hope to stand a chance against the realmstalkers. You will need to do multiple playthroughs to obtain them all however and since the realmstalkers are really strong, it is recommended to save them for at least a second playthrough should you wish to fight them as you can carry over all of your equipment gained from the first playthrough. In any case, acquiring the chains is completely optional and they are merely bragging rights rewards as they serve no purpose other than to prove that you've beaten them.
Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume is not the successor to my favorite rpg of all time, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, it is more of a SRPG spin off of the series which primarily follows the first game in the series Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth however there are a few returning elements from the sequal such as the voice cast and items. The combat in Covenant Of The Plume hails from the first game as there is no ap gauge so you have to be careful as characters have a limited number of attacks depending on your weapon, some weapons have special attacks known as soul crushes, the glorified limit break style attacks which return from Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria which can be used by filling the heat gauge (which gets filled by performing combo's). Performing combo's in Covenant Of The Plume is pretty easy compared to other installments in the series and anyone can get into it and enjoy it without it being too difficult making it accessible for anyone.
The story follows Wylfred, the first male lead protagonist who appears to be the most unhappiest character in videogame history, he makes Cloud Strife look like the happiest man on earth, his friend, Ancel is the complete opposite and is optimistic and always in high spirits, the only thing they have in common is that they both have swords and they both kick tonnes of ass. Wylfred is sent into battle along with 2 other mercenaries to protect the keep and get paid a hefty fee. Unfortunately, Wylfred gets killed in action but is soon resurrected by a crimson plume. When he awakens, to Ancel's amazement, they both return to the keep and earn their pay before getting mocked by the older, more experienced mercenaries. Ancel shrugs it off and they both head into battle again (there's no shortage of battles in this game believe me). During the battle, Wylfred gets a call from Hel (no not a phone call, and hel is a person) who tells him to use the plume's power on Ancel to make him stronger so they can defeat the enemies. Ancel kicks their asses before his life is claimed by the plume. Wylfred then sets out to avenge his father's death and slay the Valkyrie from the first Valkyrie Profile, Lenneth.
Great... another fetish trope >.>
The story carries on from there and the best part is YOU choose the path you want to take. Do you want to be a vigilante and fight for justice? Do you want to be a completely neutral mercenary who battles for money and has no concern about anything else? Or do you want to be a sadistic killer who charges into battle to satisfy your bloodlust? It's all up to you. Depending on which path you take, the characters who join you will be differrent. Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume has a very unique cast of characters for a JRPG. Unlike the generic angsty teenagers (come on, do we really need more Wylfred's?) of most JRPG's. Covenant Of The Plume offers a more mature cast of characters, ages ranging from 12 to 60, yes you heard me, 60 (well i think there might be older actually)! Best of all, the oldest character in the game fights with his bare hands, now thats age for you, as far as Auguste is concerned, age just makes you more of a badass. Theres also the cynical scotsman, Gwendal who always manages to be entertaining with his amazingly fitting voice (considering this is a norse mythology themed game). Theres also Roienbourg. He might have alzheimer's but he can still kick a ton of ass.
The storyline of Covenant Of The Plume is dark and gritty, centered on war, mercenaries, military houses and political quarrels as opposed to supernatural forces, time travel, collecting einherjar etc. The gods take a back seat in this game and let the mortals play out the story themselves (or do they?). Nevertheless, the story gets the player easily attached, especially if they have played the first 2 Valkyrie Profile games. There are some very emotional scenes in this game, akin to the first game, especially the A ending which i obviously won't spoil. You also do not need to play the first two games in the series to understand the story, this is a prequel to the series and is considered a spin off.
Medieval trash talk at it's best
Oh yes that's right, this game has multiple endings and lots of replay value. Unlike the first Valkyrie Profile where you had 2 garbage endings and one satisfying endings, Covenant Of The Plume only has one garbage ending (2 if you count the one when you use the plume too much) and two satisfying endings. Obtaining the endings, while not as hard as the original Valkyrie Profile, is still quite a pain, you shouldn't need a strategy guide but just look at it this way, if you want to get the A ending, completely ignore the next paragraph but read it anyways so you know what you're supposed to ignore.
Or you could just...
Another feature of this game is the plume, during battle, you are able to sacrifice one of your units to make them insanely powerful for a single battle (basically making your character unstoppable and the battle a cake walk). However, once the battle is over, they are dead PERMANENTLY and that is the least of your problems if you want to get the best ending, using the plume twice or more gives you the C ending which is garbage, using it only once gives you the B ending and to get the A ending you cannot use it even once.
Dying makes you the ultimate badass in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant Of The Plume
I beat the game first time on the C path, stopped playing out of rage due to the horrible ending. I later returned, started a new game (not a new game +, which is by the way, a feature in the game) and took the A path. As painfully hard as it was, i managed to get through it without the plume. It was as fun as it was challenging but one mission in particular where you had to protect this mage from an ambush of monsters was frustrating as hell.
The Graphics are sub-par, it doesn't push the DS to it's limits but it has some great cgi cut scenes. The graphics themselves could have been better though the facials are surprisingly detailed, ironically this is a vast improvement over Silmeria which was near perfect in every aspect of it's presentation and it's art design ruined only by the characters' facials (you can even see the characters Adams apple's). This game on the other hand lacks the presentation of Silmeria but at least has the decency to improve on a few things.
Diplomacy is for the weak, at least according to this guy
Once you beat the game you unlock the Seraphic Gate, the infamous fourth wall breaking bonus dungeon with difficult bosses and humorously awkward dialogue. The Seraphic Gate has been present in just about every Tri Ace game in some form or other and often contains cameo's. Covenant Of The Plume has by far the best Seraphic Gate of them all. Why you ask? Because it turns one of the most serious games into a lulz fest. Having Wylfred as your lead makes this all the more fun as he is just way to serious, it's about time he was made fun of though to be honest he doesn't get all that much attention compared to the other characters but he still has his moment in the spotlight after a certain awkward scene.
The only real let downs of Covenant Of The Plume are that it isn't really a true successor to Valkyrie Profile 2 (Make Valkyrie Profile 3: Hrist already!!! heck even Hrist makes a comment on this in the Seraphic Gate "where is my leading role!?"). Also due to the limitations of the Nintendo DS, the music doesn't do the previous games justice, most of it is actually remixed from the original Valkyrie Profile (kinda sucks that they didn't remix any of the songs from Silmeria which arguably has the best soundtrack of the 3 but you take what you can get). In any case Valkyrie Profile Covenant Of The Plume is still a satisfactory game nonetheless and is really fun to play, if different. I just wish there was more exploration, sadly SRPG's lack this which is why they don't appeal to me much.
THIS IS NO TIME TO BE MAKING INNUENDO'S!!!
Lifespan: Decent Length
Would you replay? Yes
Overall Score: Excellent