Intelligent System are onto another winner with the release of the latest entry into the Fire Emblem universe, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows Of Valentia. The game is a remake of an earlier title that was never released outside of Japan until now where it had the title Fire Emblem Gaiden.
The game does have an aged appearance to it but this isn’t a bad thing and in fact, marks a very welcome change to the series even if it’s only for this outing. I’ve played quite a few of the FE entries and as an SRPG, they’re 100% solid and will challenge the most hardened strategy fan. One thing that was new to me was the ability to roam about dungeons in 3rd person mode which is a great way to roam about and find treasures. When you encounter enemies in this mode, the game switches to the familiar style of gameplay with the landscape showing the enemies and your group ready for combat.
The main protagonists are Alm and Celica, a pair of teenagers, who lead two different armies, are thrown into combat against the evil empire hellbent on taking over the land known as Valentia. As you progress through the main story, you’ll begin to unravel lies and truths that you thought weren’t there at all. It’s a great storyline which I can’t wait to see where it ends and is definitely one of the better stories in the series. There is a Casual and a Classic mode where the latter sees fallen comrades stay dead for the entirety of the game so you need to make very careful choices…or not get too attached to the characters.
You can also scroll through characters in your party and see their fatigue levels, this determines how they behave and perform on the battlefield. The moods are shown via the emojis so they’re easy to read and if anyone is feeling down in the dumps, you can feed them some bread or offer them a drink to lift their spirits. Using special abilities in battle also uses the characters’ HP and can be topped up this way as well. Along the way, you’ll have battles with enemy soldiers and some lackeys known as Terrors which can be challenging.
There’s a new addition to this title called a Convoy which allows you to swap out items between your different groups when you come across a village which is a handy inventory management tool. When you find items that you can’t carry anymore, you can opt to send them to the convoy. You can also recruit many different characters, each with their own motives for wanting to fight. You can also change the class they originally start with if you find your army lacking a mage or fighter, for example. This can only be done when you come across a statue of a deity known as Mila’s Statue. Another feature that Mila offers is a turnwheel option which is used to bring your Alm or Celica amiibo into the game to use in battles. You can also give up some of your health in battle which is then used to summon an Illusory Hero, which can then be used as a temporary ally. It’s also worth noting that previous amiibo such as Marth, Robin, Lucina, Roy, Ike, and the yet to be released Corrin can also be used in the game to summon Illusory Heroes too.
Another thing to note is that this game is entirely voiced and spoken in English which is a first for the series and adds another element of immersion and depth. Add into the mix some extensive and feature rich DLC that will be available and you’ve got yourself a very solid game that will allow you to sink 50+ hours and completely lose yourself in a new FE adventure.
*Thanks to Nintendo for the review copy*
Final score: 8.5/10