Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

It’s been quiet in my gaming world as of late, but fear not – I haven’t abandoned blogging completely. Several new titles are being gradually released that have piqued my interest this spring/summer season, and I’m already trying my hand at some of them. Tuesday was my birthday, and I asked for the new Fire Emblem game on 3DS as it had only been released on the Friday before; I was not disappointed!

Fire Emblem is seriously addictive, and this game manages to succeed from the very beginning in engaging you with the characters and drawing you into the complex story of Alm and Celica and the destruction of their world. A remake of a past title, the thing I love about this is that you get a bit of everything. As well as having some pretty visuals, you can look in rooms and examine elements to gain items or talk to/recruit people, before running through dungeons taking on small armies in the series’ fantastically classic strategic turn-based combat system. You take control of both Alm and Celica throughout the game, meaning you need to craft multiple armies to accompany you on your quests.

Starting out with a large team in an RPG is always a nice and interesting bonus, rather than being alone for at least the first few chapters, and there are a range of classes you can promote your band of village besties to. I’d recommend promoting them fairly early on, as it will make some of the upcoming battles far easier while you’re at low levels. This can be done at various shrines throughout the game. A simple villager with a bit of wood is weak, but make them into a mage and they’re soon dominating the battlefield with their flames, or as an archer they’re able to protect themselves from harm as they attack from a distance.

That’s the thing with Fire Emblem. It’s an immersive RPG experience, but you can’t win by simply hacking and slashing your way through every threat you meet with action-packed button mashing. It is, in essence, a strategy game, requiring you to stop and think as you choose your team and map positioning carefully in order to take the best advantage of your level, abilities, stats and terrain.

The game comes in two difficulty modes, so players who are new to the series can pick it up easily but veterans won’t get too bored either. If you’re looking for a challenge, you can play on “Hard”, but casual gamers can enjoy the lack of risk involved in “Normal” mode, which recovers your entire team after every battle instead of leaving them at a disadvantage for later fights until you can heal.

Due to other life commitments, I’ve only completed a couple of chapters so far, but I have to say that I’ll have no hesitation carrying on until the very end. I’ve never really played much Fire Emblem before, but after having the mobile game (Fire Emblem Heroes) I just knew it was a series I should have been getting excited about a long time ago. I suppose it just goes to show that sometimes, giving something away for free does pay off in the long run…

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