captainlunchbox's Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume (Nintendo DS) review

The Action Outshines the Story

There are very few games that I've had to put down because the loss of a character bummed me out so much. This game had that effect on me, but in a far more personal way. Might sound like I'm exaggerating, but I actually led those characters to their deaths. Yup. I sacrificed them, and not even for the greater good. This is something you'll do more than a couple of times in VP.

It is the third game in the Valkyrie Profile series. It differs from the other games in the series in that it is more of a strategy RPG. Units are moved around on a grid and attack each other when in range. But that's where the SRPG conventions end.

The story has you taking on the role of Wylfred, a young man who blames the noble Valkyrie for the destruction of his family. It's a revenge story, but one that the player can understand. After a brief tutorial that sees him sacrificing his childhood friend for power, you're thrust into the world. Wylfred isn't complex, but his character will reflect the actions you take in the game.

Instead of units taking on other units mano-a-mano, the goal in CotP is to have all your units surround the enemies in various formations. You may say "But that would be Overkill!" to which I would smile and nod. Your goal is to not only defeat your enemies, but to Overkill them.

On the top screen, you'll see each character assigned to a face button on the DS with a number next to them. That number is the amount of attacks your character can use. You can customize their attacks and each attack has different properties. It's ideal to use a launch attack that flings your enemy up into the air so you can juggle them. The attacks are done in real time by hitting the corresponding face button. This leads to an almost fighting game combo-mentality. It's the best battle system I've ever used in any RPG.

Another gameplay mechanic (damn, this game has considerable depth) is the Invoke Plume option. The reasons behind this are revealed in the first hour of the game and I don't really want to spoil it too much. During battle, Wylfred can sacrifice characters that have come to trust him to his cause. The character basically becomes a boss and usually has a status affect that affects everyone and becomes massively overpowered. Then they die at the end of the battle.

This means you're the one killing off the main characters and this gameplay mechanic actually feeds into the story helps give the story more weight to it. Not many games can say they've achieved that. If you're into RPGs at all or just want something different for your DS- then you owe it to yourself to pick this up.

Sights and sounds are really standard RPG fare. But that's not the reason you should play this game.

This game is worth owning. You can find it cheap (I got mine for 10 bucks, new). I've beat it once and seen only one of the branching endings. I'm playing through it again and new game plus definitely makes the subsequent playthroughs that much better.


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