The thirteenth game in the Fire Emblem series brings a staggering amount of heart, courage and strategy to the tactical role-playing game – and it pulls it off with an undeniable, phenomenal finesse.
Fire Emblem: Awakening sees the main protagonist Chrom – Great Lord of Ylisse – lead a group of trustworthy fighters known as the ‘The Shepherds’ through a treacherous journey to discover the fate of the fantasy realm. The game hinges on events from both the future and the past, planting the player’s Avatar directly in the middle of the action, strategising the way to victory or doom against the game’s antagonist Grima; a fell dragon awakened to bring destruction to the future lands of Ylisse.
As you begin your adventure, your chosen Avatar will meet Chrom and his band of soldiers and he or she quickly establishes a firm friendship with the group. Like any other Fire Emblem game, victory lies in strategising but it also requires a smidgen of luck. Teaming up with another Shepherd allows your characters to trigger critical attacks in dual strike mode, which can give you the upper-hand when a battle is turning most sour. Those partnerships in battle also allow for extra events to strike outside of the main storyline. By building the relationships high enough, players can secure marriages and even children between characters, which can be utilised in later battles. The perfect fusion of stimulation and RPG genres creates another astounding level of depth to the game, giving the player such satisfaction from the unfathomable bond between characters.
When planning for the battles ahead, the player is presented with a grid – the enemies scattered on various parts of the board, while your own Shepherds congregate in a group formation. When the combat finally ensues, the visuals are simply stunning, with the 3DS enhancing the sharpness, depth and clarity of the characters’ detail beautifully. There are also plenty of weapons to choose from, which vary in degrees of power, ranging from magical spells to deadly bows and swords.
An abundance of side quests and enemy battles keep you occupied when needing a break from the main storyline, and also serve a great purpose of giving your characters some healthy experience if you intend to level them equally. These separate battles also give you a chance to stock up much-needed money for the more difficult battles ahead.
Above all, Fire Emblem: Awakening is a game intended to keep you hooked for hours at a time, but it doesn’t just do that, it keeps you on the edge of your sofa, bed or kitchen counter for days on end. It’s a game with real heart and that is, ultimately, why it is so wonderfully mesmerising.