Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume is the newest edition to the “VP” franchise and although the game has a lot of promise it falls short of being a masterpiece.  The game follows the generic “Final Fantasy: Tactics” turn based strategy design, but adds a few gimmicks to keep the game play fresh/modern.



SEEK YOUR REVENGE

One of my favorite parts of this game was the interesting plot.  The story revolves around a warrior named Wylfred and his quest for revenge.  Now Valkyries are usually the “good guys” in the story but in the case, Wylfred quest for revenge has him going after “Lenneth”, the protagonist of the 1st game.  I found this to be a refreshing twist and it immediately got me involved in the game.

OVERKILL!

Another feature that immediately caught my attention was the “Soul Crush” finishing strikes.  The overall battle system is pretty simple in comparison to FF Tactics or Disgaea.  In fact I would have to say that without the “Soul Crush” the battle system would be very boring.  This feature alone pretty much saves the battle system.
The over the top action and combining your attacks is just so SATIFSYING.

Another unique feature is the ability to sacrifice your allies for powerful abilities.  Although this sounds cool on paper, losing a character which you just spend an hour leveling up, will leave a bitter taste in your mouth.  Although you are compensated with a really powerful skill, I felt that keeping a powerful ally was just as good.  The choice is yours, which is another selling point of the game.

LOTR LONGGGGGGG

Did you watch Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and say to yourself, “Holy Shit this movie is long?”  Well if you did, the battles for this game will also seem VERY LONG for you.  The battles move at a very slow pace albeit the over the top “Soul Crush”.  Not to mention that sometimes you will spend 20 minutes in a battle only to have to do over because you couldn’t “SAVE” a person in time.
Poor Poor Gameplay Design

A video game is supposed to be fun.  Why was Mario so fun?  It was simple and just challenging enough to be fun. Covenant of the PLUME is VERY challenging and this takes the fun out of the game.  The game has a very steep learning curve and doesn’t fully explain or show you the benefits of “skills, tactics or techniques”.  Granted you can read this all from the instruction manual but a well design game usually makes its features intuitive.  This is where the game loses its chance at being something great.  In one specific battle a flying “archer” class creature was beating the shit out of me.  I couldn’t retaliate because the creature was hovering over a huge canyon.  In order to finally kill this thing, I had to walk my whole party to a corner, have the creature follow me, THEN chase his ass, do a “swap position technique” and then beat him down… did you get all that?  Scenarios like this are all too common for this game.

FINAL WORD
All in all, Valkyrie Profile is a decent game.  If you can look past the steep learning curve and unfair battles, than Valkyrie Profile is the game for you.  I would have to recommend this game for HARDCORE strategic RPG gamers only.  I love Final Fantasy Tactics but this game was really a chore to beat.  The only thing that kept me going was the story and not having any other decent handheld games to play…