With the newest installment of the Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem Fates, on the horizon it is only appropriate to go back and take a closer look at Fire Emblem Awakening. This is the 2012 hit Simulation Role Playing Game (SRPG) released by Nintendo and developed by Intelligent Systems Co., Ltd.

Waking up in the middle of a grassy field, my character was soon drafted as a tactician into the care of the Shepherds: a ragtag group of peace-keepers led by the stalwart Lord of Ylisse, Chrom. I got to know these characters as the game went along. There’s the bright and cheerful healer, Lissa, the boisterous bruiser, Vaike, the cold and logical mage, Miriel, and many others as the group slowly grew larger.

But then, tragedy struck. With Fire Emblem being a turn-based strategy game that locks units onto grids, much like XCOM, I had left Lissa one square too close to an archer and she was struck down during the enemy turn. Even while using the newly introduced Pair Up feature, which lets two units become one unit for extra stats at the cost of losing that unit’s individual usage, there was no way of preparing beforehand for the sudden enemy reinforcements without prior knowledge. With deaths being permanent in this game, I had no choice but to grit my teeth and move on.

“Waking up in the middle of a grassy field, my character was soon drafted as a tactician into the care of the Shepherds”

Permadeath in Fire Emblem is used as a constant threat, making you care for the characters that join the army during your playthrough. Rapport between characters can be built through the returning Supports, where two characters can forge closer bonds through conversations. While the conversation topics range from serious to mundane to outright cheesy, they nevertheless help characterize the troops that your created tactician guides through the 25-odd chapters of the main story.

“With deaths being permanent in this game, I had no choice but to grit my teeth and move on”

While there are several niggles in the gameplay that kept bugging me, such as aforementioned enemy reinforcements that move on the same turn they appear, Fire Emblem Awakening sticks to the series’ tried and true gameplay concepts alongside new features such as Pair Up, and expands upon Supports to give more freedom to players and characterization for player units. It is an excellent game that 3DS owners, and fans of the genre generally, should definitely try out.

Alistair Wong

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