After my first taste of Fire Emblem in the form of The Sacred Stones on the Gameboy Advance, I was itching for more tales of intrigue from this universe. Fire Emblem: Awakening was a thrill ride to be sure, with believable characters and nods to the legends of the entire franchise. I was in awe about how gripping this installment was. I hadn’t been as compelled by a story since Golden Sun, and we all know how much I love that franchise (minus Dark Dawn). With some enhanced features that both save time and bolster the experience, this game was a perfect addition to the growing array of 3DS games.
While being very similar in gameplay to the originals, there were some features I feel that helped the game along. Some of the battles could be long and drawn out, so with the inclusion of the Dual Strike Support system, you aren’t just getting a stat increase, but you also have a chance for your ally to join in your attack. This can increasingly affect the tide of battle in your favour, as these attacks are usually fatal for the computer’s attackers. Not only can you do this with any character for boosts to your accuracy and avoid, but characters can latch onto each other in a more permanent role in the “Pair Up” feature.
The great inclusion, which I believe brings a lot of heart to the story, is the fact that many of the characters, including your own Avatar, can marry. When you reach Support Level “S”, your characters will enter a cut scene in which one proposes to another, and most are very cute as it follows their equally enjoyable banter through the game. When they pair, they also may unlock certain Paralogue chapters in which they find their children displaced from the future and have them join the party. For example, I had my Avatar “Yvelle” marry Lissa, sister of the hero Chrom. I found their relationship to be the cutest out of all the ones I had encountered. Virion and Tharja came in a close second with his willingness to be her guinea pig for hexes.
Have you ever wondered what your favourite hero would be like if he picked up a bow instead of a sword? I do. Switching classes is one of the fundamental musts while playing this game. Allowing your characters to grow and learn new abilities and use new weapons allows for you to tailor the combat to your tastes. One of my characters can instantly kill and move again after bringing her potential count to two kills a turn. Mathematically speaking, a number of battles in this game are over in moments. Another gains health from kills and simultaneously always regains and restores health to those nearby.
What I enjoyed about this game is that all characters had well written personalities. I really felt for them during their falls and cheered with them during their triumphs. With the many characters in the roster, it feels like an entire universe of stories. Even your implacable enemies join you eventually and the story gets even more interesting. Even the trusted Lieutenant of the main bad joins you during another Paralogue. He’s a beast to tame, but when you do, my god is he a powerhouse.
This game included the first paid DLC in the history of Nintendo-exclusive franchise and it did a poor job of executing it. I didn’t feel the game warranted the DLC until I reached the end of the rich and full main story. When I did get to the end, I wanted the adventure to continue. When I did this, I found out that the DLC doesn’t level with your characters. This ended up making them stupid easy for my already maxed out characters with insanely powerful weapons and abilities. I didn’t even have to look at the screen; I just set the game to auto-battle and won each with ease. Although the stories were interesting and the tasks fun, when you have absolutely no craps to be given because of the ease; it gets boring.
While the in-battle sequences and the manga inspired 3D cut scenes are beautifully executed, they must have cut the funding when making the battlefield and overworld map. They didn’t utilize 3D at all for the sprites and barely with the field. It was a bit disconcerting to switch between the two. The overall execution of the 3D animation in all the battle scenes and cut scenes was nothing short of spectacular. Fluid animations of battle graced the top screen as I watched my characters slice or get diced.
If you can overlook the DLC and the battlefield graphics, then you can easily call this game a shining testament to this franchise’s longevity. I was really happy with the way it turned out. With the game’s heavily customizable characters, brilliant story and a backstory for each main character; Fire Emblem: Awakening is a must for anyone who owns a 3DS. If you can’t find yourself a physical copy due to the rarity and apparently unintentional shortage of copies, it is available to download directly from Nintendo’s eShop.
Final Score: 9/10