Taking place in the kingdom of Artolia, Valkyrie Covenant of the Plume begins when Wylfred and his friend Ancel are fighting as mercenaries, fending the fort from the undead. It is then that Wylfred is badly wounded and learns of the power the memento plume he possesses can grant. Blaming the Gods for the misfortunes that befell his family and believing the Valkyrie is responsible, he desperately goes on a journey to seek the power he needs to have revenge.
Unlike previous titles where the player approach enemies in real time with a full party available to fight, CotP's system has turned SRPG where the player must plan ahead well. Every unit moved can perform an attack and others can join in as long as they are within attack range.
On the other hand, the battle system hasn't really changed. Basically the idea is to chain a number of attacks together between nearby party members so that you can fill a gauge and perform more powerful "Over Attacks".
Having sworn an oath to Hel to gain the power he needs, Wylfred has to make an offering after every battle in the form of Karma. After knocking down an enemy's health, attacks can continue to score some Karma points. There is a set minimal target for each battle and by saving up enough, special items that aren't available in the shops are awarded.
Party members can be sacrificed by using the plume which puts them into a kind of berserk mode for the entire battle, raising their attack power so high, you can completely annihilate the enemies with them alone. They also activate a certain skill immediately such as paralysing all enemies which Wilfred inherits for future use. The sad thing is that you will lose the unit at the end of the battle and leads to a little bit of dialogue just before they die. It really makes one feel guilty when their background story is known and they don't just disappear in a flash of light!
There's no difficulty setting in CotP and unfortunately, it can be very hard if you try not to sacrifice anyone or try and achieve those Karma goals. Players will most likely find themselves being defeated and retrying several times. It really is all about strategy because there are practically no side battles available for levelling up until party members are stronger than the enemy.
A single mistake could mean the end of the battle as the enemies pile in. In fact, in some battles they are so close there isn't even time to get away in time! What makes it worse is that some of the enemy units are insanely powerful, wiping out the entire party if they're close enough and they're not even boss units!
Saying all that however, the CotP isn't impossible and can prove satisfying to beat.
As I mentioned earlier, there are few side battles to do. One can stop at towns then drop by the bar to find them and also read more of the background story. There are so few in fact, the developers might as well have left them out.
Then there's also the mandatory shop for purchasing items and new equipment but, I feel there are a lot of improvements that can be made.
Firstly, the items aren't categorised very well. All the books, which are used for customising what skills and spells your characters possess, are grouped together with all the expendable items. With the large number of items, it makes it very difficult to browse through the list and find what one is looking for.
Then, there is the way equipment is sold. It would be very helpful if CotP used the top screen to show a comparison between the current equipment stats and what the improvements of the new items will be. It would also be handy if the equipment bought could be equipped immediately after purchase to minimise the chore of using them with party members.
Being a game from SE, the graphics are good quality. The graphics engine appears to be the same one that's been used in titles such as FFXII Revenant Wings and Heroes of Mana - 3D maps with the characters themselves in sprite form. The character illustrations look very well drawn during dialogues and most of the game has voice acting, especially during the early stages. One could be fooled the entire game had was going to be voiced!
The interface is generally good, allowing one to zoom out of the map using the select button. It's pretty much essential to view where long ranged mages and archers can attack sometimes! On the other hand, I think the screens used during battle could be swapped round. If they showed the button configuration on the bottom screen, it would be much easier to view the stats and players could even use the touchscreen to execute attacks
Covenant of the Plume is not an easy game and may put players off but, it shows what strategy is really all about.
Time Played: 14 Hours
- Wonderful mix of 3D backgrounds and 2D sprites.
- Detailed character illustrations.
- Almost full voice acting.
- Satisfying combo based battle system.
- Multi-branching story.
- Side battles and quests almost non-existent.
- Equipment and item purchasing can feel like a chore.
- Feels a little overly difficult at times.
- Items at shops could be sorted better.