#SundayReview – Fire Emblem: Fates
So for today’s Sunday Review, I’m going to discuss a video game I’ve been playing recently. It’s called Fire Emblem: Fates, but it has two versions. One is called Conquest. The other is called Birthright. Fire Emblem is for the Nintendo 3DS.
I had previously played my first Fire Emblem (Awakening) game right around Christmas of this last year, and I absolutely loved it. So much so, in fact, that it helped inspire one of my Works in Progress! So when this new Fire Emblem game came out, I was really excited. Let’s start with the beginning, so that you’re just as excited as I was.
I found this trailer to capture the spirit of the game. I tried to find the same trailer entirely in English but it doesn’t seem to exist. This is, in my opinion, the best trailer. The game is in English, though, so no worries!:
So for starters, you can choose between two versions of the game, Birthright and Conquest. Brad and I bought both of them. He played Conquest and I played Birthright. At first, we thought the only difference was in the story, and Birthright was more my style. It was more about family and peace and looks like more of a rural Japanese theme. Brad liked Conquest because it seemed more battle-oriented, and he tends to like to play the villain. However, when we got part of the way through the game we noticed a major difference–he was having a lot of trouble advancing in the game, and I was kind of breezing through it. That’s because the two different versions are actually two different difficulties. Conquest has fewer opportunities for gold and experience than Birthright. It’s actually much harder to level up.
So the other major difference between the two games is in the plot. You play the main character. You can customize the character’s looks, voice, etc., and be either male or female. You start the game in Nohr, where you’ve lived your whole life. For the first part of the game, you get to know your family who very clearly loves you. They’re a little bit stoic and grim, but some of them are more bubbly than others. At some point, there’s a major battle, and the leader of the opposing forces of Hoshido drops a bombshell–you are their brother/sister who was stolen from them, and they’ve been seeking you desperately ever since. They plead with you to come home.
At this point you must choose: do you stay with the family you grew up with, whom Hoshido claims has been oppressive and cruel, or do you leave with the Hoshidans, your blood family? If you buy Conquest, you stay in Nohr. If you buy Birthright, you go with Hoshido. I think, however, you can choose the other path once you’ve beaten the game? (I haven’t beaten it yet).
From there, the plot will be different depending on which path you’ve chosen. ONWARDS, TO MECHANICS!
Fire Emblem is an old series that started in Japan. It’s a tactical roleplaying game (tactical RPG), which basically means you move pawns around on a board. When your pawn attacks an enemy pawn, there’s usually some kind of battle animation. In Fire Emblem, it takes you to a fight screen, which you have the option of speeding up or pausing (and I think skipping the animations altogether, though I don’t).
Between each “Chapter” battle, there’s some story progression. Occasionally that also involves a beautiful cutscene, like this one:
Between the chapters, you can partake in “Challenges” that have nothing to do with the plot progression, but serve as experience opportunities.
In between even those, you can build/interact within your capital. You can talk to members of your party or go shopping. And in some instances, your capital can be attacked, so you’ll want to work on making sure it’s all defended and whatnot.
For me, the aspect of Fire Emblem that really sets it apart is this new relationship system. You can foster the bond between your playable characters, which serves as rich plot fodder to keep the story interesting, and also serves up some battle advantages. The closer your characters become, the more likely they are to push themselves to help each other. They’ll block attacks, enjoy attack boosts, or perform additional counterattacks the more they appreciate the other having their back.
To foster relationships, you’ll want them to fight next to each other on the board. Or, better yet, link them up.
The closer they get, the more they’ll like each other, as I’ve said. When I first played Awakening, I was rather surprised when the character I was bonding with suggested we get married. Before I knew it, I was married off and had this adorable kid. Very disorienting the first time that happens, especially if you weren’t expecting it.
Come to find out, you can do that with ALL of the characters. Bonus: Fates has the first instance of same sex couples. Your avatar character can have a homosexual relationship with a select few of the characters on the roster. So I have a lot of fun building up the relationships with my characters (there are more than 40 characters). And because of the endless shipping, the replay value is fantastic!
Even better, if you get your characters to get married, they always produce a child that you can then recruit to your party, so if you decide “Hey, I really like the Ninja class!” you can ‘breed’ a new Ninja for your team.
This is the progression of the main character avatar and Silas (who I married!)
And this is a hilarious little video about all the males confessing their love for you. I found this incredibly awkward when my husband and I were playing in the same room. I looked around like “Hey, I didn’t ask for him to hit on me!” They get to be pretty affectionate, all blushing and looking at you and saying things like, “I’m going to kiss you now. I can’t hold back any longer!”
There are some more complicated issues I won’t get too far into. Your characters can level up to level 20, but you can advance their character class with a Master Seal and level them up all over again, stronger and better than before. I won’t go into the classes because there are so many, and I’m more or less going to leave you here.
Fire Emblem has a wonderful, interesting story that values the development and depth of all of its characters. The tactical RPG format promotes strategy, though the game also combines great storytelling, stunning cutscenes, and action-packed fight scenes so it’s not just a boring ol’ game board like some tactical RPGs.
I love this series of games. In my opinion, it’s one of the most unique games of our time, and it always provokes inspiration in me.
S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS.