Game Night, Video Games

Fire Emblem Fates: The Eighty-Dollar Adventure (Game Night)

This is a follow-up of last week’s review on Fire Emblem: Awakening. You can check that out in the link right here.
Fire Emblem: Awakening Review

Remember how Fire Emblem took the Pokemon business model with this one? Cause I do. And I can’t say I’m fond of that part. But in fairness: the game itself is pretty good.

Fire Emblem: Fates is similar to the previous game in the series, Awakening, in many respects. The gameplay is almost completely identical to Awakening, save for a few tweaks that make it a bit easier. The story isn’t as messy as Awakening, but it certainly isn’t the best fantasy story ever told. It is a fun, solid game.

That you need to play three times. And pay eighty bucks for. No, I’m not letting that go!

Plot: Family Issues, Anime Edition

Holy fuck this story is convoluted! Sure, each individual path makes sense on its own. But when you look at all the pieces of the puzzle put together (because yes, it is a puzzle), it becomes a big fucking mess!

Your created character (whom we shall address by their default name, Corrin) is a shut-in prince of the kingdom of Nohr, with their only contacts in life being their servants and four siblings. One day, they’re sent off by their father, King Garon, to settle a skirmish with Nohr’s old enemy, Hoshido. During this dispute, Corrin is kidnapped and brought to the capital of Hoshido, where they meet…

Wait for it: THEIR REAL FAMILY!! Turns out, Corrin was kidnapped by Garon when they were super-young. Now, they have to choose between the family they were raised in and the family they were born to. Will Corrin be able to make peace between the two lands and save both of their families?

In terms of plot, neither the Birthright (Hoshido) or Conquest (Nohr) paths are very different. In fact, they aren’t different at all. You fight through a series of obstacles with the family of your choice, fight through the opposing country, then fight Garon. Pretty simple and inoffensive stuff.

But then you play through the Revelations path. And everything goes to shit.

Throughout both Birthright and Conquest, subtle hints are put into place that foreshadows the events in Revelations. Garon talking to the true villain, Anankos (who is significantly less interesting or intimidating but you can’t have a FE game without a Dragon so fuck it), Corrin and Azura’s brief trip to Valla in Conquest and Takumi’s turn to evil are just a few examples. These have little build-up and very little pay-off, making them rather underwhelming.

But then we get to the twists that weren’t foreshadowed. Turns out: both Corrin and Azura came from Valla, meaning that neither of them is related to the Hoshidan or Norhian royal families. That’s right kids! Your family tree is even more complicated than you already thought it was!

I hope you didn’t marry Azura in your previous playthroughs. Like I did. Because incest is allowed in FE land apparently. I need to go take a quick cold shower.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t think any of the story paths were all that memorable. Each one was fine, but it wasn’t all that great. They were just okay, typical FE stories. The finer details are convoluted as hell, but the big picture is about on par with most games in the series.

It doesn’t help that the characters are pretty weak. Each member of the two royal families is interesting, deep and memorable… mostly (looking at you Camilla). Unfortunately, every other character is pretty bland. They range from one-dimensional with a fun personality to no-personality whatsoever. They do well in battle. But in terms of narrative? They are so unimportant and forgettable that even the game leaves them behind!

Let’s be honest. At this point, we all know that we don’t play Fire Emblem for an engaging story. They aren’t bad stories, but they are sloppy and predictable. Fates is more of the same.

Just sloppier. And slightly less predictable.

Presentation: THEY HAVE FEET NOW!!

Yup. That’s about all I can say.

Visually speaking, this game is identical to Awakening. The character models and environments are a bit better, but they’re still rough. It runs decently well, but not spectacularly. It is fine, but far from pretty. But what can you expect from a 3DS game?

The music is also just as incredible as always. There aren’t as many memorable tracks as there were in Awakening, but it’s still at least a solid B+. Maybe an A if I’m being generous.

Although… ‘Lost in Thoughts All Alone’ is a pretty damn good song… Shit, I may need to rethink this!

Gameplay: Fire Emblem At Its Easiest

Most Fire Emblem games before this one were decently challenging. If you wanted to beat the game with everyone alive, you’d need to suffer for it. You’d need to keep an eye on your levels, your weapon durability, team synergy and more if you wanted to succeed. They were always beatable, but far from easy.

Fates is the exact opposite. Out of all three paths, only one of them (Conquest) is truly challenging. Every one of the others is quite easy, even in Classic mode.

In terms of gameplay, this game is the same as the other Fire Emblems. Swords beat axes, axes beat spears, spears beat swords. Archers beat pegasus knights, certain types of magic beat others. When you fight with a teammate for long enough, you get support dialogue between them that builds their relationship and characters. If you want, you can get them married, unlock some awkward minigames, and they’ll produce a child unit. So on and so forth. But there are a few minor gameplay tweaks that make it far easier.

For one: weapon durability is gone. You can swing a sword as many times as you want and it will never break. Did you find a grossly overpowered sword that can instant-kill any foe it comes across, even if they wield a spear? Congratulations! You’ve just beaten the game!

Looking at you, Ryoma/Xander. You overpowered bastards!

And then there are the Dragon Veins. Most levels have these magical deposits, which can only be used by members of the royal families. These can change the landscape, give buffs or debuffs to party members, or simply do a bit of extra damage. None of these are game-breaking, but they do add an extra layer of strategy to certain fights. Honestly, I quite like these!

It may not be especially challenging. But in the end, a Fire Emblem game is still a Fire Emblem game. It’s addicting and fun from beginning to end!

Even if it isn’t especially hard.

Conclusion

Fun fact: Fates was the first Fire Emblem game that I actually finished (though the first GBA game was the first one I played). At the time, it was my absolute favorite! I played the living hell out of it! For a long time, I didn’t think that any other FE game would top it!

But times changed. Since then, I’ve played and finished almost every FE game localized in the States (I’ll finish and review Three Houses eventually, I swear). While I still enjoy Fates, I am willing to admit that it is far from the best game in the series.

The gameplay is much easier but still solid. The presentation is decent, though the music boosts it up to greater heights. Unfortunately, the story is a total mess, even by Fire Emblem standards! Worse yet, you need to pay roughly eighty fucking U.S. dollars for the full experience!

No, I will not stop being mad about that! Shut up!

With all that said, I’d still recommend Fire Emblem: Fates. If you still have your 3DS around and you love the series, then you should definitely check this one out! It may be awkward (who blows on their spouse when they get out of the bath?!), it may be sloppy, and it may be easy. But it’s fun!

Which is more than I can say about the next game in the series that I’m going to talk about.

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