Fire Emblem Awakening tells the story of Prince Chrom of the Kingdom of Ylisse and his band of soldiers known as The Shepherds. Ylisse is under attack from bandits from the neighbouring Kingdom of Plegia. Meanwhile, towns are being attacked by a hitherto unknown force known as The Risen, and there’s a mysterious masked warrior called Marth, who seems to know a lot more about what’s going on than anybody else.
Soon you will join forces in an epic battle to save the world.
You’ll first be asked to create your avatar from a decent array of build, faces, hairstyles and voices which really helps to build investment in your own character. The game begins with your character waking up in a field, unsure of where he is or who he is. You then get an opportunity to name and design him, changing clothes and hairstyles. I say he, you can choose to play as a female as well of course. Shortly thereafter, you meet up with Chrom and the Gang, and are introduced to the games battle mechanic. Traditional old skool turn based fighting set on a grid, and in many ways, not at all dissimilar to Advanced Wars and Xcom.
The tutorials fly thick and fast during the opening hours. There is a lot to take in quite quickly but it’s easy to pull up the instructions to take advantage of whatever new technique you’ve just learnt. Whilst the story itself is largely linear, there are plenty of opportunities to engage in side quests (or Paralogues as they are referred to). These feel relevant to the events of the story unfolding around you, and will net you additional playable characters.
Over the course of the game you will recruit many new characters, you’ll get married, and you’ll have children. Lots of children. As in previous Fire Emblem games, characters can pair up, adding buffs to nearby players on the grid. Relationships will develop between characters, and talking in barracks during down time will also boost stats. Once a relationship status has reached rank ‘S’ they will marry. Clearly gay marriage laws have yet to reach Ylisse as each partner must be of the opposite sex. Once married, you will be able to recruit your children through side missions. Your offspring will inherit their parents equipped skills and can be quickly levelled to provide effective characters for the game.
The game is pretty tough and you will want to spend some time grinding in order to train up weaker party members. It’s difficult to explain the intricacies of the combat system in detail, but learning it and the stats system is half the fun of JRPG’s. For what it’s worth, having two units next to each other on the battle grid and selecting ‘pair up’ will give you a chance at a Dual Strike or a Support Block, the latter being really useful if you have a weaker healer paired up with a well equipped fighter as it negates all damage.
Featuring different game modes and difficulty levels there are numerous options available to suit your tastes, and whilst I haven’t tried it myself (yet) there is even a permadeath option for the hardcore. The game makes great use of the 3DS’ Streetpass features, allowing you to fight and trade with friends or strangers. You can even recruit them to your party. It is also well supported with DLC, with ‘Xenologues’ adding additional missions and rare items for you to win. I have got all this way without even mentioning the presentation.
The game features gorgeous full anime cut scenes, and these engaging scenes really help to bring the game to life. The soaring stentorian soundtrack is beautiful too. Not only one of the very finest 3DS games, but one of the finest JRPG’s I’ve ever had the pleasure to play.
MLG Rating: 9/10 Format: 3DS Release Date: 19/04/2013
Disclosure: Midlifegamer were provided a copy of Fire Emblem Awakening for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of several weeks on 3DS. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.