|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tri-Ace||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 17, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Although Valkyrie Profile has not been the most prominent series in recent years, its plot-heavy entries on both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 have garnered this series a cult-like following. The third Valkyrie Profile game, Covenant of the Plume, is the first handheld entry in the series. Although this title sticks very closely to the series established narrative, Covenant of the Plume takes several risks with the battle system, and the results are hit or miss.
The story in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume is probably the best reason to play it. It continues the series theme of seeking vengeance on the gods, involving a young man named Wylfred, whose father was taken in battle by Lenneth Valkyrie. After his fathers death, his family fell into financial ruin, leading to his sisters death due to starvation. At that moment, Wylfred made a promise to his mother that he would get revenge on the Valkyrie at any cost.
This is where things get interesting. As Wyl gets older, he is approached by a nefarious queen of the underworld, who gives him a powerful magic plume that can unlock hidden potential in Wyls friends. The only catch? is that after Wyl invokes this plume, his friend will die. The plot thickens as it is revealed to him that the plume needs blood to survive, and Wyl must either sacrifice his friends or use The Power of Sin in order to stay alive and continue his quest. This leads us to the battle system.
The Power of Sin is a lot like the rules system in the Final Fantasy Tactics, and it involves getting a certain amount of Overkill. Overkill is defined as successive hits gained after a foes HP has reached zero. The Overkill hits must be taken in the same turn as the fatal blow, and they must reach a certain amount of negative HP to fulfill each battles Sin requirement. If the Sin requirement is not fulfilled, a series of suped-up bad guys will be sent after you, and you will probably die in the process.
The sin system is a little bit on the complex side, and it really defines the way you use the tactics in Valkyrie Profile. Unfortunately, I dont think its effect on the gameplay is very positive, as I frequently felt like I was being punished for dispatching enemies swiftly or leveling up mid-battle (as this would cause my single attacks to be too powerful and kill enemies without gaining much Sin.) Although you can circumvent the sin system altogether, fighting the enemies that follow if you fail is extremely arduous, and it is usually better if you just restart your system after failing, which is a huge gameplay hindrance.
But, aside from the overly complex rules system, the combat in Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume is actually very good. The battle system is very unique and involves using a single button to control up to four playable party members. Each character can have up to three standard attacks, as well as a singular special attack, which can be equipped before each battle. Once the battle commences, each character has a dedicated face button, and once characters move in range of an enemy, an attack mode starts up.
In the attack mode, you will use the button that is assigned to each character to attack the enemy. So, if you have Wyl assigned to the DSs Y button, and you have equipped him with two sword-based attacks, you will have to press the Y button twice to unleash these attacks. If you are performing a group attack (which the game heavily emphasizes), then you will be able to use each character by pressing the button when you want to attack. There are rewards for attacking at different times, or attacking together, so pressing the buttons in a certain sequence is a good idea. Of course, pressing all the buttons at once is not exactly a bad strategy either, but if all of your attacks kill your foe, but just barely, you could get in trouble for not having enough Sin, which undermines the entire battle system.