Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume
The Valkyrie Profile franchise has been going strong for over a decade now
- Addictive and accessible gameplay, fun-to-master battle mechanics
- Excessive text dialogue, formulaic presentation
Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume is an addictive RPG that is able to adequately separate itself from the me-too crowd with an accessible and unique battle system. It's surprisingly simple to pick up and play, but like any good RPG worth its weight in gold pieces, the real reward comes from mastering its finer points.
The Valkyrie Profile franchise has been going strong for over a decade now. Ever since the original debuted on the original PlayStation, fans have been looting and leveling their way through instalments of the Norse mythology-infused RPG series. DS owners have had to wait patiently to get their hands on a Valkyrie title but it was worth the wait: Covenant of the Plume is a deep, yet accessible experience that franchise fans can be proud of yet it's accessible enough that even newcomers will find it difficult to put down.
As Wylfred, a young warrior seeking vengeance against a god for his father's death, players embark on a battle-heavy quest, complete with the requisite lush fantasy lands, mythological beasts, and NPC's that like to talk a bit too much. Of course, angsty heroes that wouldn't look out of place in a boy band are also out in full force. The game's coolest feature, its battle system, is about 90% turn-based and 10% real-time, allowing for a compelling mix of cerebral tactical strategy cut with the satisfying ability to whack your enemies with giant swords. The system unfolds on an isometric grid, encouraging effective flanking attacks that make for some rewarding encounters, especially when your screen is brimming with baddies. Once engaged, you're able to unleash all members of your party-mapped to the four face buttons -- individually and in supported strikes for a variety of melee, ranged and magic-based attacks.
The Weight of a Quill
The titular feather also plays a significant role in the game's battling, as Wylfred can assign its power to an ally, granting him or her with near-invincible skills. The battlefield-clearing upgrade comes with a steep price, though, as the melee's conclusion will see the plume's host so overwhelmed by its power that they drop dead. This tide-turning mechanic really ups the ante when the odds are against you, forcing a weighty decision be made that could find you choosing success, but with deep sacrifice in the heat of battle.
Fantasy RPG fans will find a lot of familiarity in Covenant of the Plume's somewhat formulaic story and presentation, but the addictive battling and character leveling should keep them gripped till the closing credits. The title's refreshing accessibility also makes it a perfect entry point for those new to this under-the-radar franchise. Just be careful who you give that feather to.
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