Challenging one’s fate by any means necessary
“Fire Emblem: Awakening? What’s that?”
Fire Emblem: Awakening (or FE:A) is a tactical RPG developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 3DS. This game was originally to be the last Fire Emblem game in the franchise, yet they decided to give it their all for this possible final entry in the series. Once the game was released, however, it proved to be a massive success, satisfying both veterans and newcomers of the series, letting the series continue. Though how did this game save the franchise as a whole? Lets go through and find out.
Though we don’t technically play as him, the main character of the game is Chrom, a descendant of the hero Marth of the Fire Emblem series, the game taking place 2000 years after the original series. He and his sister, Lissa, encounter someone lying on the ground unconscious, who wakes up and sees the duo for the first time. That “someone” is you, the one who the player takes the role of. Their canonical name is “Robin,” though you can change and customize them however you see fit. Shortly after Robin introduces themselves to them, it turns out that they have amnesia, but more important matters are on the rise, as a group of bandits are attacking a nearby town. The game then proceeds to introducing to Chrom’s group, known as the “Shepherds,” as they deal with problems throughout the Kingdom of Ylisse.
Much like previous entries, the game is a tactical RPG, where the goal is usually to defeat all the enemies on screen, though there are some missions to keep things from getting too stale, such as making sure that a person doesn’t die, not letting the enemy reach a certain spot or you trying to get to a certain spot, to name a few examples. Each character has a starting class, which not only determines their stat growth, but also determines what weapons they can use. For example, Robin is a Tactician, so he can use Swords and Tomes. Frederick, Chrom’s bodyguard, is a Great Knight, meaning he can use Lances and Axes, on top of being able to move much farther than the others early on due to riding a horse. Weapons due have durability, however, so you gotta keep in mind which weapon to use in certain situations. Once the durability reaches 0, that weapon will break, meaning you have to get yourself another one.
On the flip side, as your units use a particular weapon over and over, their Weapon Proficiency will go up. Once it reaches a certain threshold, they can use the same weapon of a higher grade. You can get these weapons and various items either from on the battlefield, or by buying them from the shop, with a recurring character, Anna, hosting it.
One of the series’ staples is permanent character death (or “permadeath”). If a character loses all of their HP on the battlefield, then they officially dead. This is one of the many things that made Fire Emblem so popular, so people would have to make sure that they didn’t make a wrong move. Though in this game, they introduced a new option when starting called “Casual Mode”. Though this isn’t the first time they had this mode in the past, it’s still pretty unique, as it wasn’t really seen much by that point. With Casual Mode, your units will no longer be on the battlefield, but they’ll just retreat and be used again. Though of course there’s still Classic Mode, and there is a Normal, Hard, and Lunatic Mode so people try out various combinations. It was thanks to Casual Mode that it was easy for newcomers to get the hang of the mechanics without the fear of permadeath.
Another thing that Fire Emblem is known for are its supports. As certain characters are either next to each other after battling an enemy or are paired up, one of the game’s features, their Support will grow. After enough time, they’ll be able to have a Support conversation, which can be seen when they’re not out on the battlefield. The Support Conversations go from Rank C to Rank S, with Rank S having the two characters getting married. If certain characters become married, this means that new units can be unlocked once a certain part of the story is completed.
Overall, I personally enjoyed my time with Fire Emblem: Awakening. While it wasn’t anything new, the story was able to keep my interests to the end. The battles were great and the characters were by far my favorite part of the entire experience. Though Fire Emblem: Three Houses is probably the best place to start, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the game that saved the franchise as a whole.