Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

The first caveat I need to make in reviewing this game is that, whilst I am a pretty big gamer, I have never played a Fire Emblem game before. I have always been interested in them, but never actually picked one up. So after doing a little reading online and discovering that this game is actually a remake of the earlier Fire Emblem: Gaiden, I figure this is as good a place as any to begin my foray into the series and BAM! What a beginning it is. The first few seconds of the game are quite surprising, With a death of Celica, one of the major characters! The game then flicks to childhood flashbacks. So, although there is little to no context for the early death. It drew me in quickly. I simply had to know more.

The premise of the story is, two childhood friends, Alm & Celica, each guiding a different army to stop an evil empire, a pretty standard trope, but none the less it is executed brilliantly, with anime style cut-scenes and fantastic voice acting. You control each army separately, flicking across the continent in a seeming endless series of combats that can, after a time, become a bit tedious. The mechanics of the battle system can also be a bit frustrating, with your special abilities all costing HP and increasing the character’s fatigue. which can, if allowed to get too high, temporarily reduce the character’s maximum HP. This leads to a near constant need for supplies for your army to keep that HP up.

The game also includes new 3D dungeons, these weren’t in the original. These dungeons are filled with treasures to help you in your conquest and enemies to avoid (or engage).

Fire Emblem does spike in difficulty quite viciously at times, throwing maniacal spell-casters and summoners that can obliterate you quite quickly. Thankfully, the games gives you access to the ‘Mila’s Turnwheel’, allowing you to ‘Do-over’ stuff-ups.

The amiibo’s for Alm & Celica allow you to, after sacrificing a not insignificant amount of health, summon a ghostly version of themselves. These summons only last for a single round, but can really help you out in a tough spot! The amiibo’s also look fantastic.

Overall the game is a good tactical RPG and reminds me of Pokemon: Conquest, which I really enjoyed. The story also makes me think of the, now really old, gem of a game Suikoden 2. It’s definitely a worthwhile pickup if, like me, you have always been interested in the Fire Emblem series, but have never been sure where to start.

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Matt Balcam

Matt Balcam

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