Alternate Character Interpretation: A rare in-universe example. You see characters behave differently depending on what path you take. A few characters still have the same interpretations though, they just wind up facing you on the other side of the battlefield for different reasons. Wyl has the most variance depending on which path you take.
An Aesop - The overarching theme of the 'A' path is 'Vengeance is bad'. The game is not going to let you forget that.
It's the theme of the whole game, really. No matter which path you take, Wylfred's path of vengeance doesn't really end well for anybody. It also takes a different interpretation, Path A - Vengeance is bad. Path B - Vengeance can make others suffer, but a father's love can conquer all. Path C - Vengeance can completely consume you.
Anyone Can Die - The game does it two ways: First, there are three distinct story paths, and each version of each chapter has different characters you can recruit. However, if you're on one path, and you see a playable character from another path, they're pretty much guaranteed to buy the farm by the end of the chapter, or sometimes show up later as a boss you have to defeat. The second way is with the Destiny Plume, which lets you kill off any of your party members during battle.
Back Stab - Attacking enemies from the back stuns them.
Badass - Many, but Auguste is most notable, especially for standing up tall and shouting while being sacrificed to Hel while everyone else just lays on the ground (including himself when Reinhilde is still around... I guess he just doesn't want to scare her even more).
Badass Grandpa - Roienbourg. Auguste and Reinhilde may count as well, even though they're "only" in their 50s or 60s (which is still very old by JRPG standards).
Also somewhat played for comedy with Freya (the super hot immortal goddess) in the Seraphic Gate. Oh Fauxnel...
Roienbourg is 55, and Auguste is 60, so both qualify despite having no grandchildren.
Beware the Nice Ones: Valmur may seem to be a Technical Pacifist, and he certainly dislikes unnecessary wars involving his house. This makes his sister think he is a cowardly incompetent loser. In path B, after watching his brother (and later his parents) killed by mercenaries, and seeing the Valkyrie take their souls right before his eyes, he went full on Good Is Not Nice and started up the same Roaring Rampage of Revenge as Wylfred did to Valkyrie.
Rosea is a kind priestess who reveres the gods and uses her powers to help the people of Artolia, despite being banished by the kingdom for a crime that she didn't commit. Because of that incident, she harbors a deep grudge towards Lieselotte, who was also accused as a suspect. At the end of path A and C, Rosea finally loses her temper and kills Lieselotte, only for her to regret doing it.
Kristoff is a peace-loving, kind Prince that is considered weak and passive just because he isn't as warmongering as others. However, in path A, he proves himself quite formidable in combat. In path B, he realizes that all peaceful methods have been exhausted, and decides to go to war with a fervor no one thought he had. Path C is where "beware" really comes in. After losing the fight against Wylfred and Prince Langrey, Kristoff requests to be killed, but is denied. Realizing that Langrey is willing to sacrifice his own people in a bid for power, Kristoff yells, "I'll not let you!" Then, he pulls out a dagger, looks Langrey in the eye, and stabs him right in the gut. What makes this gutsy (no pun intended) is that Kristoff did this from a position of weakness against a very powerful warrior/sorcerer who was at full strength, and in front of many people, including Wylfred. Whether or not Kristoff had any regret is uncertain, because he is killed immediately afterward by Langrey.
Bonus Dungeon - The Seraphic Gate, as usual. If the first game's version was only vaguely humorous in the form of the temporary party members making some Fourth Wall-breaking comments and the second game's version had most of its amusement come from humorously renamed storyline bosses and a group of terrier-looking kobolds dressed like the main characters running around the place making a mockery of the game's dramatic cutscenes, this game's version has its Silliness Switch turned up to 11 from the get-go, starting right from the intro to the place and just getting crazier from there, with the only even remotely serious parts being the encounters with Gabriel, Lenneth, and Ethereal Queen, and even then, each of those gets a thorough mocking at some point.
But Thou Must - In the game's third battle, you can't take any action until you use the Plume on Ancel. It is still possible to win, by using the end-game equipment that holds over from a New Game+ to win the battle by letting the enemies attack you first and counterattacking them... But even if you do, the cutscene with Ancel's death plays unchanged.
Cain and Abel - Langrey and Kristoff, though neither are exactly evil.
Calling Your Attacks - All casters shout the name of the spells when casting it, such as "Firestorm!" and "Lightning Bolt!". Even non-offensive ones like "Heal" and "Reflect Sorcery" are subject to this.
Physical Soul Crushes also have the user call out the name of the attack, along with some other phrases.
Wylfred: Suffer my pain! Finishing strike! GRIM VENGEANCE!!!
High magic Soul Crushes have a fixed Invocation, regardless of who is using them.
"Harken the angel's summon, the true path shall guide you, find peace in annihilation. PHANTOM DESTRUCTION!"
Each character gets two Pre Ass Kicking One Liners (one of several is chosen randomly when beginning to attack, and one that's always the same is used before a special attack), one Bond One-Liner (again, one of several chosen randomly), and a special line for a critical hit. As usual for the series, these are fully voiced.
Dead Sidekick - Wylfred is forced to use the plume on his childhood friend before the end of the first area. Wyl has a little breakdown and the friend gets some Last Words, but Wyl doesn't quite show the same angst once he uses it again. (This makes the most sense in the "C" path, because Wyl almost becomes a sociopath!)
Deadly Upgrade - Previous Valkyrie Profile games forced you to choose how to balance when to give up party members (which you would be rewarded for). In the first and second games, doing so either let them into the afterlife or restored them to life, respectively. In this game, it supercharges them to the point where they can steamroll the entire level and gives you a copy of their supercharged ability, but kills them at the end of the level. Needless to say, you're likely going to feel like a heel every time you do this.
Death Is Cheap - Mostly gameplaywise: while killing off characters with the plume does have severe consequences, letting characters die in battle is at times even a preferable option: it removes any other status aliments they might have (and all but 2 of them are severely debiliating and disallow them to attack and often would cause that character to die regardless), it allows you to reposition them better by reviving them at a more preferable location and allows them to act on the same turn, and due to both your and your enemies' ability to attack at the same time for every unit in range for each of their turns, you're going to die a lot regardless.
Defeat Means Friendship - Lockswell, Lieselotte in path B, and Fauxnel in path A, and you can use some of the main game's boss characters (Chapter V and VI bosses) in the Seraphic Gate after defeating them, along with cameo characters from other games.
Dramatic Irony - Those kids Natalia keeps going on about? They're the psychotic twins that end up killing her in one path. They never find out, either; the closest either comes is a battle quote where they say, "What did that woman know about my mother?".
Mischka has a rather feminine sounding name... and has the same voice actress as Mirielle.
Dying Alone - This is Lieselotte's greatest fear. If you use the Plume on her, her last words are of her begging Wyl to stay by her side until she dies.
Escort Mission - The Ruins on the A path, which is possibly even more unfair than the Roof of Riovanes. Made worse by the fact that one of your party members will attempt to kill the woman you save immediately after the battle... and then she dies at the end of the chapter anyway.
There's an escort mission in every version of Chapter 4. However, all are rendered moot by the cutscene afterwards, in which the character(s) you just fought so hard to save are dead anyway. So in all, out of the four escort missions in the game, the rescued character only survives in one of them.
Actually, there are two more escort missions where the characters that you rescued will join as permanent party members. Those characters are Natalia (if you sided with the rebels on Chapter 2) and Rosea (if you're taking the C path on Chapter 3).
The missions themselves are almost universally reviled. The ally team AI is aggravatingly stupid. In both the Natalia and Rosea missions, the targets will go out of their way to attack nearby enemies, even though they inflict almost no damage, and suffer huge counterattack damage — in the case of the Natalia mission, speeding her own death. Rosea's mission is even worse — she starts in range of two enemies more powerful than her, will attack them even if it is certain to result in her death, and will completely eschew healing herself despite having the ability to do so. The mission is especially notable because, depending on enemy unit movements, it is fully possible for Rosea to die before the end of the first turn — and unless the party intervenes immediately she will definitely die before the end of the second.
Evil Plan - The A ending reveals that everything involving the Succession Crisis was set up by Hel and Ailyth for their own nefarious purposes. The lead-up to the Final Boss involves Ailyth chewing Wylfred out for not cooperating.
Evil Twin - If you don't make the "Sin" requirement, Hel will sic "Realmstalkers" on you in the next stage. These "Realmstalkers" are powerful dopplegangers of your party members, both alive and dead.
Fighting Your Friend - In the final battle of the C ending, every character you sacrificed comes back as one of Valkyrie's einherjar - fighting against you. Oddly enough, though, despite the fact that he's the only person you have to use it on, Ancel isn't among them.
Final Boss: Actually, there are three. On the A path, it's Garm. On the B path, it's Thyodor. On the C path, it's Lenneth herself.
True Final Boss: In the B ending, it appears like you're at the final battle with Lenneth...however, Thyodor steps in and makes sure you know that you will not harm Lenneth.
Foreshadowing - Every time you use the Plume, the after-battle cutscene shows a feather falling on your dead party member, which means they've been chosen as an Einherjar. In the C ending, Lenneth calls them to fight against you.
For the Evulz - Hel knew from the beginning that the Valkyrie was immortal, and Wylfred could never kill her, and seems to have concocted the whole plot for her own amusement.
Guide Dang It - The first time you play through the game, you are given a choice to go to three different locations. Did you pick the town and side with the rebels? Congratulations - you just picked the hardest path to do on your first playthrough!
Harder Than Hard - Go ahead, go for ending A on your first playthrough. We dare you. The official strategy guide goes as far as to say it's impossible.
As can be expected from a Bonus Dungeon, Seraphic Gate is this to a major degree: each playthrough gets tougher and tougher and if you miss one of the Infinity Plus One Swords either lying around on the map or fail to get one as a drop from a boss, you're basically screwed in the long run when it comes to the character class able to use it. Furthermore, since every character is reset to level 1 and loses all of their skills and the inventory of the only shop available never changes, you need to have the foresight to grind some of the bosses for their drops beforehand, such as the essential Dash skill. And finally, if you thought you could spam the Plume with reckless abandon due to the repeating nature of the dungeon with the implication that any characters you've killed with it would rejoin you on the next playthough, think again: not only does Wylfred lose the Plume in the introductory cutscene, but he also loses all of his Game Breaker Plume skills he's learned up until that point.
Then again, due to the overpowered equipment you eventually find and the fact that you can grind your characters as much as you like, you'll eventually become just as strong as you would be when under the effects of the Plume (minus the status and elemental damage immunity), with no drawbacks present in the main game such as Realmstalkers or Sin quotas.
Infant Immortality: Zig-zagged in a brutal way. The Bloody Twins, both twelve, only show up if you pick a certain path and, other than Gwendal, are the only chapter two party members who are not fought as a boss or implied killed on another path. But this is also averted, because you can use the plume on them after you recruit them. (Although, you can assume that even if you use the plume on both of them, they live on as Einherjar, literally the youngest!)
Infinity+1 Sword - If you complete the Seraphic Gate ten times in a row, you will be given the Angel Slayer, which happens to be the strongest sword in the game.
In the Back - Rosea does this to Lieselotte on paths A and C.
In the A Path, he is so horrified by its effect on Ancel that he can't bring himself to use it again, becoming a remorseful Byronic Hero on a path of eventual redemption and moving on.
In the B Path, he uses the plume once or twice more, seeing it as a necessary evil on his Anti Heroic path of revenge, ultimately culminating in his father sacrificing his afterlife to save his from Nifelheim.
Meta-wise, the more people you've sacrificed, the easier the game becomes. Doing it once during a battle guarantees a win, and grants Wyl a powerful ability he'll retain for the rest of the game. So you, the player, will be less and less broken up over the guys you've lost as it goes.
Jigsaw Puzzle Plot - Every chapter has its own plot, which is only loosely connected with everything else.
When you actually play through all three endings, there are some things that make sense. Not just Natalia's missing children being the Bloody Twins, but the "B" path has Lieselotte mentioning that she and Rosea weren't the only mages; there was a third named Fauxnel. And if you know him from the "A" path, you'd know that the Magnificent Bastard has been known to order assassinations... sounds an awful lot like Fauxnel did it.
This one's particularly horrible, since once characters join you permanently, they shift permanently Out of Focus. You can only GET the spoilered character on one specific plot path, which also nets you a character who is hunting down the person who killed his (adoptive) father, which said Karma Houdiniopenly admits to masterminding.Not a word is uttered. A possible explanation is that by this point, the character has gotten over the idea of revenge (since that's the A path's running theme), but still, a scene or a line acknowledging it would've been nice.
Let's not forget the fact that Fauxnel's successful assassination plot against a VIP results in Leiselotte and Rosea miserably hating and blaming each other for the rest of their lives. Depending on which path you take, said hatred and blaming results in either Leiselotte killing Rosea, Rosea killing Leiselotte, or both killing each other. The worst part is, the only person who finds out about all this is Wylfred (on the A path). And like he's gonna tell anybody, especially since both girls have been dead for awhile!
Kick the Dog - Gwendal does this a lot; on the path that gets you him as a party member, the first notable thing he does is kill one of his own men to lure undead to the area, so they can ambush their enemies.
Also, the player can do this either via the story (such as when you have to help kill Natalia) or via using the plume to kill sympathetic characters.
Bittersweet Ending - The ending on the A path. Instead of being able to save either Rosea or Lieselott like in paths B or C, they BOTH die. Valmur gets killed, and the future of House Haughn comes into question. When Fauxnel's treachery is revealed, you end up joining with him and his Well-Intentioned Extremist scheme because it's too late to undo what has been done. And even after subjugating both Kristoff & Langrey and preventing the war that occurs in paths B & C, Langrey commits suicide anyway. On the plus side, the war is averted before it destroys Artolia, and Wylfred's soul is saved and he gets closure, having given up on his revenge. We also see his mother recover from her mental illness.
Downer Ending - The B ending, which sees Wylfred's father sacrificing his soul to save Wylfred from eternal damnation, leaving the boy to consider what his quest for vengeance has truly cost.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog - The C ending, where Wylfred learns it's impossible to kill the Valkyrie, meaning his whole quest was meaningless from the start, and was just Hel having a bit of fun. Then Ailyth kills him and sends him to Nifelheim for all eternity.
Near Death Experience - Wylfred almost dies at the beginning of the game, but his soul is saved by Valkyrie at the behest of his father. Unfortunately, he never learns this is the case, so this does nothing to end his desire for revenge, much to Hel's delight when she meets him for the first time.
Never Mess with Granny - Reinhilde. Even if she's the slowest archer (Probably because of that HUGE crossbow!)
New Game+ - Lets you carry over all your equipment, items, CP, and learned skills and also gives everyone up to 2 additional passive skill slots. You also have to get all three endings to unlock the Bonus Dungeon.
One-Handed Zweihänder - Most characters with 1 handed blades almost always use them with 1 hand, even with the other hand free. But the most prominent example is Kristoff, who holds a 2 handed sword with 1 hand.
Out of Focus - Everyone you recruit does not get any dialogue after their events are over. Unless you kill them off.
Palette Swap - In Seraphic Gate, you will encounter Hrist, who is Lenneth's Palette Swap; if you defeat her, you will notice that she has exactly the same attacks, and even the same Soul Crush. The same goes for Ancel and Arngrimm.
Pet the Dog - If you sacrifice Mischka before Mireille, he will act like nothing has happened and tell his sister to go ahead. His last words request that Wylfred never tell Mireille about his death. Surprisely, this is one of the few Plume scenes in which Wylfred shows regret.
Plucky Girl - Cheripha has a pretty dark past, but she's determined to live her life to the fullest. Hell, she's just about the cheeriest person you pick up during the game.
Every character's Game Breaker skill that's used upon using the plume on them and which Wylfred learns after the battle also has an excerpt of a poem relating to the skill in question. Since you get to read them before you actually choose to sacrifice them, and the effects are as stated, they count more or less as prophecies.
Raised by Natives - Ushio, a swordsman from the Isle of the Yamato, was adopted by the Arch Mage Cennair after the latter found him shipwrecked on the shores of Artolia. Oddly, despite this, he still dresses and fights as a Yamato warrior rather than an Artolian, and keeps to his birthplace's customs, despite being fairly young at his adoption.
Recurring Riff - Much of the music is from the first game. For example, dungeon background music is re-purposed as Battle Theme Music during the enemy phase. Other pieces, like the victory theme are put to their original uses. This is particularly noteworthy, because Silmeria had a very different musical feel from the original, with the Musical Nods much more subtle, so much so that you might not recognize them.
Redemption Demotion - Many of the recruitable characters that you have to defeat in certain parts of the story end up becoming weaker once they join your party.
Red Oni, Blue Oni - The most prominent examples in this game would have to be Ancel and Wylfred, Cheripha and Lockswell, Earnest and Darius, Mireille and Mischka, Lieselotte and Rosea, Phiona and Valmur, and not to mention Langrey and Kristoff.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge - A recurring theme in the chapters, which serve to mirror Wylfred's overall story, which is also an example, though whether it's played straight depends on which plot path you're on.
Shaggy Dog Story - Every ending to some degree, since as a mortal, Wylfred can't beat the setting's big guns like Lenneth and Hel. The straightest example is the B path, where everything was in vain. The A path has Wylfred deciding on his own to give up his quest, and lets him beat up Garm even if he can't take on Hel. The C ending goes sailing into Shoot the Shaggy Dog territory.
Slasher Smile - Wylfred shows it in the C route and in Seraphic Gate, while commenting on the game with Hrist as leading character.
Silliness Switch - The Seraphic Gate. There's also the Truthade item, which adds humor and snark to your character profiles. Until you find out who those children Natalia was talking about all game are...
Surplus Damage Bonus: Attacking an enemy with zero HP will fill up the Sin gauge. Acquiring twice as much Sin as the game demands for that battle can unlock powerful weapons, armor, accessories, and abilities. Conversely, failing to overkill enemies will earn you the ire of your mysterious benefactor, generally meaning that she'll screw you over in your future battles by setting her goons on you in addition of fighting the enemy forces: they're basically impossible to beat without using one of the other main mechanics to supercharge one of your allies, which alsokills them after the battle as well as automatically fulfilling the basic Sin requirement. In short, she'll get her way no matter what you do.
Team Switzerland: If Wylfred takes the "A" path, then he finds himself a member of Team Switzerland who actually DOES get their hands dirty to — what else? Stop the succession Crisis that's ruining Artolia. Sadly, this doesn't work...
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard - Many of those 'bosses' are actually playable characters, yet their damage output goes up around 10 times greater than the time you were using them. They can also spam Soul Crush everytime they attack one of your party members, even though none of the characters can fill up the gauge necessary to use one more than halfway by themselves. Even worse, why do they get weakened again when they join your party?
Seraphic Gate displays even more blantant cheating on the AI's part: even though it's easy to reach maximum possible Attack with all the overpowered gear you get from there, the enemy can easily outdamage you with identical stats, and naturally they can have 6-digit HP while you only get 5. The cheating is the most apparent with mage bosses, who can not only cast a spell 3 times per turn as opposed to only 1 you can never increase, but also get an additional damage multiplier for their spells: even with 9999 MAG, which is only attainable by cheating, you can never do more than 3000 damage per hit with Sacred Javelin on an enemy with near-zero Resist, while the high-end boss mages can do close to 20000 damage per hit even on lv 99 characters with less than 9999 MAG.
The Dark Side - Kill enough of your allies, and Wylfred's battle quotes change. He stops referencing his father, and starts talking about how "pathetic" his foes are.
The Power of Friendship - Horribly subvertedPlayed dead straight in a horrific way. "Guests" of the party and mere acquaintances are of no use to the plume. On the other hand, those who consider you a friend are practically in your mercy. And as the game states, the closer, the better.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill - Overkill is actually an in-game term: it appears when you kill an enemy and give them extra damage before they collapse. Strongly encouraged for extra bonuses, or at least for the sake of watching the cool Soul Crush sequence. Oh, and if you don't get enough overkill, Hel will punish you.
Tsundere - Played for laughs by Tilte during your first visit to the Seraphic Gate.
Unbreakable Weapons - All of the weapons are unbreakable, but interestingly, several of the weapons and armors mention having the "ether coating" that made only certain weapons in the first game unbreakable.