The premise behind the latest installment of the Valkyrie Profile series, Covenant of the Plume, is revenge. Players find themselves taking control of the angst-driven Wylfred in his quest to kill the Valkyrie who he blames for the deaths of his father and sister. He sells his soul over to the goddess, Hel, in order to complete his mission.
How does Wylfred do this? By collecting sin through sacrificing his allies in battle and overkilling his enemies (essentially killing the enemy twice). All of this has so much potential, but unfortunately this game doesn’t quite live up to… well anything.
In addition to Wylfred’s quest to kill the Valkyrie, players soon find themselves wrapped up in a very stereotypical political intrigue: brother versus brother in the quest for the throne. This second plot seems almost redundant when juxtaposed with Wylfred’s quest for blood, but it does allow him an arena in which to collect the sin he needs to defeat Lenneth. And the characters? They are disappointing and very one-dimensional, except for Wylfred who is a hateful emo-kid sporting not one, but two pony tails.
The battle system is also very clumsy and unwieldy. Covenant of the Plume attempts to merge strategy with real-time battles. Battles are broken into maps which are incredibly similar to those found in Final Fantasy Tactics and each time you engage an enemy it starts a round of real-time, traditional Valkyrie Profile battle. In these battles, players gain advantages by flanking enemies in what is called a siege for extra damage and attacks. As interesting as all this sounds, it makes for shockingly long and involved battles. Players will, no doubt, find themselves replaying battles after being wiped out in the span of an enemy turn.
Like the first game in the series, Covenant of the Plume has three separate paths to follow and, as a result, has a pretty decent replay value. However, this game pales in the face of other well-executed strategy RPGs such as Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea. Fans of the series will be happy to see some familiar faces, but otherwise players should be prepared to be disappointed.