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Release Date: April 20, 2017
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is the recent entry into a long series of Fire Emblem games. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia however is my first game ever in the series. Specifically Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a action strategy rpg. That means is a very tactical jrpg. The game features some pretty interesting anime cutscenes with some great voice overs. Some of the gameplay segments are in a 2d art style and others in a 3d art style. This being my first entry into the series I wanted a fresh look. So I avoided reading and listening to most other Fire Emblem stuff. The game starts off with a pretty epic anime scene which really got me hyped up for the coming gameplay.
However as the game begin and the anime cutscene came to an end the excitement did the same. You end up having some visual novel style dialogue. For those that aren’t aware of what I mean by that let me explain. You have a back drop image which is usually the area or environment the scene takes place. Then occasion character sprites are put on screen to show conversation. In most cases these sprites are facing forward so you can see emotion and get an idea of the characters features. There are way more of these style of cutscenes than actual anime cutscenes which was pretty upsetting to me.
Not just that but the story felt like I had experienced it many times before in say I don’t know… Every single Tales of Universe game I had ever played. What exactly does that mean ? Well lets see, you start off as a child. You are full of innocence and coming into your sense of adventure for the first time. That sense of adventure leads you to the opening conflict. Usually putting the character through some hardship where they lose someone or something and you get a quick basic tutorial of the game. Then when the tutorial is over you fast forward years into the future when your character is now a young adult ready to take back the person or thing in which they lost in years past.
After the quick blast into the future we are then shown some new elements of gameplay for map change purposes and in town exploration of sorts. Where you can kind of free look at a 2d image with some sprites as environment and you can use a glorified magnifying glass to search around the towns parts. Telling you what stuff is like… This is a house… This is a door. If you find some of the items you can collect pieces on each map. Then transition. If there are people on the screen you can enter conversations. Some of which are voice acted and some are not. One of the things that really get under my skin is when a game has some voice overs and some conversations not voiced at all. The other thing that really grinds my gears is when there are so many different styles of cutscenes. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia managed to do both of those things.
What about the combat you say ? The combat is simple and yet not at the same time. Consider your usual rpg stats and equipment. You have your classes and as you progress your characters can unlock new classes. That’s the obvious stuff. Using the bottom touch screen you can move your characters and issue them orders. Each environment has terrain bonuses for defending and attacking. So for example putting your units into brush or trees cant provide them some defense. The touch screen is all done iv like 16 or 32bit pixel art sprite art style. When attacks play out they play on the top screen in some pretty impressive 3d artwork.
I found that the user interface and the sound work is what really stood out in the game. The combat, and the story aren’t really all that impressive. Now they aren’t all that terrible though either. The best word to describe them is generic. Now I did also have some Amiibo‘s for the game. These adding some interesting mechanics to the game. Granted these are basically DLC if you think about it. How do I come to that conclusion? Well they provide you unique dungeons for using them. Dungeons you cannot otherwise access, and they are launch day items. So potentially launch day DLC. However that is a very odd way to look at it. That said you can store your characters progression on them so possibly being able to play the game, level up the characters and then trade them to a friend to over power their game is very doable.
Finally the game did have 2 modes or difficulties at the beginning of the game. Choosing whether to have character permadeath or not is basically the choice you make. I can see how choosing the harder difficulty could be pretty challenging and or annoying depending on if your good at the game or not. I personally chose the easier mode so I could see the story of the game and not have to worry about that particular mechanic.
Ultimately I don’t see a lot of replay value in the game and for the price of 39.99$ I can say the game is worth a playthrough at least. It isn’t terrible but it isn’t amazing. The music and the animates cutscenes were near perfection. The 3d game play and the action scenes are thrilling to watch. Should you buy this game ? If you have never played Fire Emblem before this could be a bad game to start at. Not for story sake but because it seems it doesn’t hold up to the rest of the series. Of course I personally can speak on the other games because as I said this was my first. I did get the game as a free copy to review. I am very thankful for that opportunity and would still gladly play another entry into the series.
Fantastical anime style cutscenes
Exciting and beautiful 3d gameplay segments
The devs seems to mix one to many genres without making one of them stand out
Inconsistent amount of voiced over content
Draul gives Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia a Drastik Measure 7.2 out of 10 (72)
I have to say I was surprised that the game had such good 3d segments and voice acting considering it was on the 3DS. I got to learn a lot of things about the 2DS/3DS system thanks to this game. Granted If you own an original 2DS or 3DS you have to get the Amiibo adapter so you can use them. It is 19.99$ at most game retailers. I would love to get my hands on a newer 2DS or 3DS eventually. Furthermore I would love to see what Fire Emblem developers can do on the Nintedo Switch!