Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume review

…I hate this game. No joking around here, I am cutting straight to the point here. After playing 30 hours of this game, I had to ask myself one question several times: why am I playing this? Well, I don’t want this blog to be filled with games I never finished simply because they were god awful or just difficult, so no matter how bad the game, I at least have to beat the game once before giving it a full review, thereby showing what my real problems are and not just be assumed as a guy who quits at the first sign of trouble. Even if people had not commented on that, I can see people actually thinking that.

I almost regretted that decision, and now I just doubt it for putting 30 hours in a game, where I cannot find the right words to fully express my hatred for. I went into playing this game with mixed feelings, as while reviews were quite positive, comments on Plurk had the following to say about this game:

“Absurdly difficult. At one point, I just said ‘f— it’ and broke out my cheat device to get max health and stats.”

“I’m afraid to touch it.”

“Just use a gameshark or something. It will spare you the pain.”

But to be fair, there were people that liked the game, but even then, they were sometimes forced into using cheat codes for the game. I was not so lucky and had to play the game without, which meant for a horrifyingly difficult time. Now, I have already given a perfect score to another game, Devil Survivor 2, and while that game frustrated me, I loved it. So why not give the same praise for Valkyrie Profile: CotP? Well, before I tear the game apart, I should at least list the positives.

I’ll start it this way though: KILL WYLFRED, LADY VALKYRIE!

The story might be one of the best things, despite what problems I had. In the first game, the Valkyrie was both feared but mostly praised, knowing that those chosen by her would be famed warriors in Asgard, and to most of the higher class, it was an honor. However, this game focuses more on the lower class, those that fear and hate the Valkyrie and believe that she is the cause of all the misery and death in the world. You take control of Wylfred, who has decided to make his life about avenging his father and hoping to kill the Valkyrie. He is helped by Ailyth, a servant of Hel, and given a plume that can unlock the hidden powers in fighters. The downside? They will burn out and die.

An interesting twist to say the least, however, the story even points out the flaws with the characters in it. Most people do blame the Valkyrie, and honestly, it really doesn’t make any sense, as those that die, their deaths are either caused by creatures roaming the world, or soldiers, and nobody else feels the need to take them on instead? And I know what some may say: they cannot possibly see the killers, right? I call bullcrap as Wylfred witnesses the deaths of others by soldiers, and can see the Valkyrie afterwards. This game is being hypocritical, and it never touches upon this unless you are on the path to the A ending.

…Do you not see the weapon wounds on your parents!?

Speaking of which, the game does have a branching storyline right at the beginning, allowing you to join one of 3 military factions eventually to decide the fate of the world and who will rule it. However, it doesn’t impact the characters you can recruit. Rather, it only affects the outcome of the war, and enemies you fight, which is pointless given the end result. Also, the game lacks good and likeable characters. There are a few, yes, but most of them end up dying, either by your hand or theirs, but still, they are enjoyable. It’s just they really don’t have much impact on the story, and that is disappointing. There’s not much drive for me to complete the game, especially with a character like Wylfred, who is willing to sacrifice people and looks to do so, unless you don’t do it and try to go for the A ending.

CG cut-scenes are done well enough, and are pretty to look at, and the graphics of the environments and characters are entertaining to look at, particularly the finishing strikes of the characters, which still remain entertaining, even if some cannot match the epicness the first Valkyrie Profile game had. Music is also done well, changing depending on what type of enemy you deal with and how tough they are. Admittedly, it isn’t all memorable, but for combat, it does suit the game and keeps the game feeling like a Valkyrie Profile game.

Well, Gaia is doomed. Sephiroth should have hired her a long time ago.

Now let’s get to the meat of the problem: the gameplay. First, some classes are made useless, like archers, as some enemies can block their attacks later in the game. Sword-users and other blade/fist wielders are also limited with movement and attack restraints, while lancers and mages are probably the best given their own range. In fact, Mages might be overpowered, as they can use single magic spell attacks in battle without much restraint, and with the right gear, their attack power can rise quite sharply. There is also Sin, which you must get by killing enemies and then filling the overkill bar, and by doing so, you can gain incredibly rare and useful items depending on the more you have. However, fail to do so, and you’ll be stuck in a fight that forces you to sacrifice one of your party members. And as a standard, you get the traditional HP bar, but instead of MP, you get AP, which is for tactics, which will be explained in the next paragraph.

Gameplay allows for only four characters, each one mapped to a button for an attack, and depending on the range you are in, your allies can join, and they will always join if they are near you or the enemy. The goal is to fill the combo gauge, while also juggling the enemy in the air to gain crystals for more EXP, or keeping them on the ground for red gems to use more attacks. However, the enemy can repeat this tactic, so you have to be careful. Tactics can be learned and used, and are necessary in most battles to improve the odds, such as increasing speed, or making sure enemies do not attack you, at least on the field. Wylfred however has an advantage when it comes to this, in that everyone he sacrifices to the Plume, he gains their tactical ability forever, can use it if he has enough AP. The good news aside from this? The character’s stats are multiplied by a large amount, enough to kill any enemy on the map. The bad news? It kills that ally, and you are expected to do this a lot early on, if you don’t want to throw your DS at a wall.

Positions are also vital, giving bonuses to characters. And sometimes, are VERY necessary.

And this is where we get to the real problem. The game can become ridiculously difficult, and the enemies don’t even follow the rules set by the game, as I have seen enemies using support spells, common soldiers. Now while tactics are acceptable, the only ones that can use that spell are Mages, and the enemies completely ignore this. Okay, normal soldiers can’t use offensive spells, but this is still a huge problem. Even worse is that while you have to work to combo the enemy, making sure to have enough in the gauge to perform a Soul Crush, enemy bosses can use this a lot, even if they miss every single attack. Early on, this usually results in your character dying, especially against Mages.

Even worse, while RPGs can be linear, this game leaves nothing much, save for maybe one or two side-quests every chapter, and the rewards are little, and it’s mostly for EXP with no story extras. And you’ll need that EXP since you cannot go to a random map and grind, and that is perhaps the worst thing about this game. You see, Devil Survivor 2 was more flexible with the customization, and could provide with incredibly powerful teams. Tools, customization, and everything was in that game, as well as a more developed story with the team you work with and free battle sections where you could level up and practice your tactics with the native demons. Here?  Customization is bare with equipment, most of which is the best when gained from Sin requirements, and also technique and tactic tomes, which start out limited as a character’s capacity points are limited. You gain a few each level, and the only way to grind for more is to beat the game several times, and this is a problem. Why?

Hope ya like trying to string together combos with enemies in the air. You have to do that, a lot, to gain more experience.

This game forces you to beat the game several times if you wish to get the A ending (without tearing your hair out), and even then, the final boss is absurdly hard, and trying to beat it is quite honestly one of the toughest challenges I ever had. Sephiroth from Kingdom Hearts was nowhere near this difficult. And the funny thing is I didn’t even beat the final boss, simply because of what he can do, and all the strategies I implemented, and failed. I wasn’t willing to put myself through hell all over again, and I never will! I poured 30 hours into the game, and beat the paths for endings B and C in order to get new game + (you don’t keep the high levels by the way). A game shouldn’t have to make you do all of that. And the worst news is that a single route is about 10-12 hours long, so if you did get the A ending somehow, your options on doing much other stuff is limited and won’t feel like a challenge after awhile. And for the record, I did the exact same thing, putting in so much time for Devil Survivor 2. And that game not only has multiple endings, but each route can last far longer than Valkyrie Profile: CotP.

And after all of that? I can only recommend this to gamers that want an extremely tough challenge that seems impossible, or actual Valkyrie Profile fans, and even then, the latter may not be interested. I gotta give this game a 2 out of 5, as like I said, sometimes gameplay can be interesting, and some characters were likeable, but I never want to play this game ever again. If I want to torture myself, I’ll just hunt down another bad game to review and then try to forget about that. The best I can say is that the final boss here is definitely a challenge, more so than I can say for even games I love. That perhaps hurts me most.


About The Smartest Moron

I am a college graduate of Temple University, majoring in Media Studies and Production. While hunting for jobs, I also do a review series on YouTube where I analyze stories/characters called The Smartest Moron.
This entry was posted in Nintendo DS, review, Square Enix, tri-ace, video game and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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