If you think Undertale is the only game that lets you make heart-wrenching moral decisions that affect the future of every interesting character in the game, then you’re wrong! Enter Fire Emblem Fates, the most morally confusing game of 2016! (Or 2015 if you live in Japan) My name is Kenda, and today, my fellow journalist, Anna, and I will be reviewing Fire Emblem Fates. I will cover the Hoshido path, referred to as “Birthright” and Anna will cover the Nohr path, or “Conquest”
Let’s start with the storyline, up until the plot splits. In Fire Emblem Fates, the main character, Corrin is born in Hoshido, a kingdom based on Japan, to the royal family. At a young age, Corrin is kidnapped by a raiding party from the neighboring kingdom of Nohr, a kingdom based on Europe. There, Corrin is raised by Nohr’s royal family. Since Corrin has lived in Nohr most of his/her life, (Corrin can be male or female, depending on which gender you select at the beginning of the game) Corrin cannot remember his/her life in Hoshido. As a young adult, Corrin find him/herself in Hoshido once more. After spending a few days in Hoshido, Corrin is forced to make a decision between Hoshido, his/her birth family, and Nohr, the family that raised him/her. This is where the path splits.
The Hoshidan path, Birthright, is more similar to Fire Emblem Awakening than Conquest and is ideal for newcomers to the Fire Emblem series. It allows the player to familiarize themselves with Fire Emblem’s chess-like, turn-based strategy gameplay. Birthright’s storyline involves overthrowing King Garon, the corrupt, despotic king of Nohr.
One of the main aspect of this game is the support system. When a unit defeats an enemy and another , compatible unit is adjecent to it, then support points will acumulate between them. When two characters have enough support points with each other, a conversation between them is unlocked.This conversation can reveal important details about the involved characters or just fun trivia. Even the player, Corrin, can support!
Now that the basic mechanics are out of the way, lets get into the actual game, starting with the storyline. There were some parts that felt too rushed, and some characters were forced into the story with only a few lines of text to introduce them. At times, I found myself looking at the character roster and wondering “When did that person get here?” If you don’t pay attention to a few lines of text, you can end up extremely confused. In addition, some parts of the game feel more like a chore than a video game level.There are a few chapters(levels) of the game that don’t really have any value to the storyline.The storyline is okay, but it could have been handled better.
Next, the audio. This game had a few really good songs. The rest were okay, but not very memorable. The music is appropriate for the scenarios it is used in, but is not very remarkable alone. The good thing is that the game is very rarely quiet, and there is usually background music to accompany any event in the game. The Fire Emblem Series is one of the few series that has voice acting every character, but this game’s voice acting was all over the place. Some voices were spot-on, but others were terrible. Even Corrin’s voice, or at least the one I chose, was… ahem, interesting. During the scenes that were supposed to make the player cry, or at least feel upset, Corrrin was supposed to scream with sorrow. Instead, her voice cracked. Also, when she gasped, her voice crack. Generally, whenever she was sad or surprised, Corrin’s voice cracked. This made the game hilarious. If you choose the female avatar, pick voice 3. You will (not?) regret it.
Anna just mentioned gameplay, so that’s what I’m talking about next! In Birthright, it’s very difficult to lose. Between the amount of units and the multiple difficulties, the game is hardly a challenge for verterans of the fire emblem series. I am not a veteran, so I’m okay with it. The gameplay is fun, but if you are over the age of ten, I suggest you choose Classic mode. This is the game setting in which every time a character is defeated in combat, they die. Permanently. Forever. Or, until you reset the save file. This makes the game pleasantly challenging and forces the player to think tactics, not just act impulsively. Now, let’s go to Anna, with her experience with the other version of the game, Fire Emblem: Conquest. Or, you can just leave. The choice is yours, and yours alone! (Heh, just kidding. You probably want to keep reading.)
I’ve played Fire Emblem games since Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Because of this, Fire Emblem Awakening was a little too easy for me. When the next game in the series was announced, I was excited because it would give me a new opportunity to be challenged, like in Radiant Dawn. I played Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, because it was said to have a similar difficulty to most of the older games in the series. Even though the story felt incomplete and rushed, and most of the characters were either archetypes or had no personality, the gameplay was amazing. It left me wanting more even after I finished playing the game and, while there were times I felt like throwing my 3DS against a wall (Chapter 10), there was a real sense of accomplishment once I beat a level.
Before the game was released, I expected the story to have more effort put into it. The choose-your-side thing was an interesting decision. After Nohr was chosen, the story went downhill. Every 10-minute long cutscene between levels felt like a chore to get through. They were full of confusing writing. and rushed plot points (Were the deaths necessary?). After the—let’s just say, “risks”— Awakening took with the story, the writing should not have been as ambitious as it was.
The characters’ personalities in this path were generic and uninteresting, except for a few of them. There are even a few differences in Corrin’s personality in this path. They want to show mercy to almost every enemy they meet. In Birthright, they are willing to kill almost everyone. Besides that, they are just a normal protagonist who wants to save the world. The game reserves most of the character development to the royal siblings, and the other characters’ development is hidden behind optional, unlockable conversations, named “Supports” (which are very hard to obtain in Conquest). That said, some of these characters are interesting if you are willing to put time into unlocking Supports, but many of these don’t have the backstories of the ones in Awakening.
Now for the good part- the gameplay! It is easily the strongest point of this game, and the main reason why this is such a good one. Like Kenda already explained- it’s a turn-based strategy game, but the difference between the Nohr path and the Hoshido path is the tactics that the enemy uses, and the map design. In the Hoshido path, enemies make it extremely easy to just go and kill them. The maps are also designed in your favor, where you can just move your units the farthest they can go, attack, and not die. In the Nohr path, the gameplay is much more complicated. The enemies are much smarter. They can lure you into traps with other enemies, use “skills” (special powers that can change how the battle works), and overall, more powerful. Maps are designed with more varied objectives- while Hoshido only has maps that tell you to defeat all enemies on the map or defeat the boss, Nohr tells you to defend a spot for a certain number of turns, rescue people, then escape with all units, and more like that. The maps also are designed more with a specific strategy in mind.
Overall, Conquest has amazing gameplay, but mixed in with a boring story and bland characters. It might not be for everyone. People who want easier, more forgiving gameplay with a better story and characters should choose Birthright.