Some words from my brain to yours about whatever game has been occupying my time over the last 7 days. Once a week, EVERY week for the duration of 2015. God help us.
Well, here’s one that came out of nowhere for me. Despite a pile of shame that is beginning to rival the known universe in terms of sheer scope, I thought it wise to invest in a new game from a series that had, until now, never piqued my interest before : Fire Emblem.
It’s kinda funny how you can play videogames all the time as well as read about them, talk about them and even write about them yet still be so ignorant to so many of them. Fire Emblem was always a game series that was just there. I’d heard of it. I’d seen the boxes on the shelves of stores. I’d see headlines on websites. But I don’t think I’d ever investigated it before. Fire Emblem’s whole deal certainly felt like news to me when I was blown away by the trailer for the upcoming entry in this long running series, shown during last months Nintendo Direct.
It’s time to get involved, I repeatedly said out loud to myself as I marched to CEX, a bag of copper coins clutched in my fist.
Slightly scuffed second hand copy of Fire Emblem Awakening in my possession and following a couple of false starts (I called my first character ‘Cuuuuuuunt’ for the lulz but felt that it was taking the edge off the fantastic dialogue scenes once I got invested in the story; I’m hilarious) I proceeded to fall deeply in love with it. From the fascinating ‘cold open’ combat sequence to the immaculate presentation of the cut scenes and the lightly handled, zippy dialogue, it’s a game of incredibly high production values. Playing it is a pure joy; smooth, fast, smart, funny and, considering it’s the 13th game in the series, incredibly inclusive. I’m sure if I’d played the preceding titles I’d be getting a touch more out of it, but coming in fresh didn’t feel like a detriment at all. Awakening grabs you by the hand and pulls you right in.
But it’s the combat where the game truly shines. In case you didn’t know, Fire Emblem is a turn based tactical RPG. You lead a squad of units through a series of skirmishes, each bookended by story progression. You’ll move around on a grid based map, plotting your moves and engaging the enemy with the aim being to kill them all dead. Once you get into a fight with an enemy unit, the view changes to a fabulously animated battle sequence where you’ll attack, dodge and counter based on your current characters stats. The real fun comes from pairing your units up though, whether that be from placing them side by side on the grid before initiating combat or by actively pairing 2 units as a ‘support’ combo so that they move and fight together. Once two units are supporting each other, a myriad of stat boosts and buffs present themselves. There is truly no greater pleasure than when an enemy tries his luck with a paired unit only to miss his shot and be countered by two blows in return, finishing him off. It’s immensely satisfying.
Consistently pairing units across multiple battles also increases their relationship with each other, paying off with further combat buffs. It feels like a very deep system, and one that I’m likely only just scratching the surface of. Also, my two main characters have spent so much time fighting together on the battlefield that last night they got married during a between-battle cut scene. Daaaaaw. A marriage founded on the slaughter of their enemies.
At 5 hours in I’ve probably got a lot still to see. The blank section of the world map is still looking huge in comparison to the area I can move around in. But one thing is for sure, I’m fully converted to Fire Emblem. And sweet Christ am I excited for the next one. I also may or may not have been browsing the Fire Emblem Amiibo collection and imagining how cool they’ll look standing on my shelf. Alongside the Link that’s currently gathering dust. Damn you, Nintendo.