Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume both is and isn't your normal Valkyrie Profile game. First off, this is a tactical RPG unlike the prior titles in the series, so everything takes place on a grid, but it's not a basic tactical game either. Some of the series elements that fans will expect to find are still there, but other things have changed dramatically. Who will this title appeal to? Read and find out.
"...fans of both tactical RPGs and the Valkyrie Profile series will be doubly pleased."
Norse mythology still plays a big part in Covenant of the Plume, so fans can rest safely in knowing that. Within the first few minutes of playing, we find out that the main character Wylfred holds a major grudge against the Valkyrie Lenneth. When Wylfred was a young boy, Lenneth chose his father to become an Einherjar. Soon after that, the family began to fall apart as Wylfred's sister died, making him even more angry at Lenneth. As Wylfred grew up, he began taking steps to become a proud warrior in hopes of becoming an Einherjar himself and hence being able to exact his revenge on the Valkyrie that took his father. A feather left behind by Lenneth when she took his father turns out to play a major role in the game, as Wylfred makes a pact to use the feather to become a great warrior and to kill Lenneth.
Combat seems like typical tactical fare to start with, but once an enemy is engaged, the Valkyrie Profile combo system pops up. If the battle is one-on-one, only the attacking character can do anything, but if other characters are positioned nearby then they will be able to participate as well. Where the characters are positioned plays a major role in combat, as surrounding an enemy will deal much greater damage than just attacking head on. The more characters that are surrounding it, the greater the bonuses.
Each party member is given a certain number of attacks to use, so the huge combos of the series are still around. Performing an attack that more than defeats the enemy is called an overkill, and doing this will garner a certain level of sin. Players are required to meet a specific level of sin each bout. If they meet this requirement, they will be rewarded, but if they don't their next battle or two will be a lot more challenging.
Combat is also where the feather comes into play. By using the feather, Wylfred can impart a major stat boost to another character in the party, but does so at a price. Once the battle is over, that character will be overwhelmed and can no longer fight. It's an interesting feature that must be used with care, but is a nice addition at least.
Music and visuals in Covenant of the Plume are decent, but nothing about them has really stood out as exceptionally grand. The soundtrack is a mix of staple tri-Ace composer Motoi Sakuraba's Valkyrie Profile greatest hits and original works.
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume is a game more likely to appeal to fans of tactical RPG than anyone else. Those that are fans of both tactical RPGs and the Valkyrie Profile series will be doubly pleased. It should be known that the game is clearly a tactical RPG, albeit one with some unique twists. A full review of the game will be available shortly before the March 17 release date, so check back for more details then.