“Fire Emblem Fates” is the 12th game in the series. (Photo courtesy of Nintendo)
Of all the Nintendo franchises in existence, none has embodied the Cinderella story as “Fire Emblem” did. Since no titles were released in America prior to “Super Smash Bros. Melee,” it seems the franchise started from the bottom, and now they are here. This recent return to prominence has turned heads of many gamers who have never played any “Fire Emblem” game before, so as someone who certainly falls into this category, here is a cold review of “Fire Emblem Fates” from someone with no expectations.
The game mechanics of “Fire Emblem” are similar to tactical strategy games, for example: “Final Fantasy Tactics.” It is played on a field of tiles and each character has certain ranges that they can traverse the terrain in. Each character also has a special set of abilities and attacks that they use when engaged with an enemy to determine a victor.
Two rather unique aspects of “Fire Emblem: Fates” and “Fire Emblem” games as a whole are setting and plot. The world of “Fire Emblem” draws inspiration from the medieval and the gothic. Much of the plot is delivered through text box conversations that can be compelling to read as the language has a bit of Shakespearean flare.
Specifically with “Fire Emblem Fates,” the gamer plays as the main character Corrin. Corrin has ties to the two opposing factions in conflict throughout the game: The Hoshido and the Nohr. Corrin is related to one of them, but the details surrounding his birth are unclear and are revealed more as the player advances. The plot is not essential for gameplay, but it is worth the watch.
Depending on which version is purchased, the player must choose to fight for the Hoshido or Nohr (Birthright and Conquest respectively). Conquest was also made for more experienced players, while Birthright is more tailored to new players.
Perhaps the greatest attribute “Fire Emblem” games have to them is the amount of creativity it yields from the player. Moving a player’s forces around even one or two tiles require large amounts of strategic forethought.
This feature can at times make losing an enjoyable experience. If something does not work, the player has the opportunity to try something else. The amount of approaches a player could take to any mission is virtually endless, and it is up to them to develop their own strategies for dealing with difficult enemies.
On the topic of difficult enemies, “Fire Emblem Fates” is littered with them. As the player is allowed to move their forces, the enemy can move too. The enemy can also at times carry unexpected abilities that make the quit button look really tempting. This is why moving in this game can take long, since moving an ally into an opponent’s range is often asking for that unit to be slaughtered.
Not only are decisions in game difficult to make, but those made outside of battle can be just as important. Units level up like traditional turn based role-playing games, which means that the more a unit sees action, the more rapidly it levels up. Therefore, like Pokemon, players have to think about who is gaining experience. Also, just like it is tempting to have Charizard finesse every gym leader, there are certain units a player might be tempted to rely on. Weaker units who do not get kills, however, have their growth stunted, which adds another layer of deciding which unit goes where.
The “Fire Emblem” community has been in heated debate over whether or not “Fire Emblem: Fates” is a good title for beginners. Especially for players of Conquest, gamers complain that the difficulty might be too steep, especially since “Fire Emblem Awakening” was heralded as the prime beginner game years ago. “Fire Emblem Fates” is certainly enticing, though. Playing with all of the new features inspires the gamer to wonder how challenging the previous games were. In that respect, “Fire Emblem Fates” is a great way to begin one’s “Fire Emblem” journey.