|Commission Details 2017|
[This review is Spoiler Free!]
I decided to play the game twice to get a better feel of the game. Particularly its characters. Sorry for being late.
On 18th January 2017, we were given a Fire Emblem Direct and I decided to watch it because I enjoyed the single game(s) I played that is, Fire Emblem Fates. We saw a Fire Emblem Switch game which we have yet to hear that much more about, Fire Emblem Warriors which… alright. Yeah, and Fire Emblem Heroes which I still play and legitimately enjoy.
But before all those announcements, we were given a preview of the final 3DS Fire Emblem game and it was a remake of the Japanese exclusive Fire Emblem Gaiden.
It’s name was Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.
Like many others I think, I was excited for this game and nothing was going to stop me from not buying this game and this seemed to be the game that’d bridge the gap between Classic and Modern fans of the series.
But as soon as the first trailer dropped, I knew I had to go into this game with a different mindset. Dungeons? No Weapon Triangle? Durability System… I think? No, it’s not in this game.
These were things that interested me as I waited for the game to be released, but me being me, I stepped away from everything Echoes-related. So yes, that means I didn’t stay for the upcoming trailers except for the Limited Edition trailer, and I did little-to-no research on the original Gaiden.
With that said, I was going into Echoes with a fresh set of eyes and couldn’t compare it to the original source material, mostly.
It was finally the 19th May and I got my copy of Fire Emblem Echoes: Limited Edition and I couldn’t wait to try it out.
Let’s quickly talk about the Limited Edition.
And keep in mind, I have the UK version. So depending on where you live, you might have a few different items in it too like how Japan gets special Cipher cards of Alm and Celica. Why aren’t those localised yet?
The UK Limited Edition comes with the Game, a Changeable Cover, Alm and Celica Amiibos, 3 Pin Badges, an Art Book and a Soundtrack.
Most of the extra things are fine like the Pin Badges; they look cool though I don’t exactly know where to place them, but not all the items strike gold with me.
The Art Book only has so much in it. It’s mainly characters and a few scenery illustrations. It was ultimately fine in the end, but I still would’ve liked more if I’m honest, but the Sound of Echoes Soundtrack… It’s not like I think it’s bad, but I think it’s underwhelming.
I get it’s only a Selection, but only 30 tracks with 14 of them being Gaiden originals and it really only encompasses Acts 1 and 2’s music. A bit of Act 3 and that’s it. I don’t feel it encompasses most of what you’ll hear in the game.
So yeah, I feel it’s lacking.
You know the sad thing though? There will probably be a full Soundtrack for Echoes in a few months… and it’ll be exclusive to Japan.
Which is a shame because I’d love to have A Song of Bygone Days and The Heritors of Arcadia (English) on my Music Player.
But that’s enough of the side stuff. Let’s review Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia!
Fire Emblem Echoes adds quite a few new things from the original Gaiden. For starters, more story to establish characters and the world.
A Prologue chapter was added to further flesh out the villagers of Ram Village, Alm, Celica and newcomer, Faye, but not before showing us a cutscene of Celica being killed by Alm.
I don’t know if Gaiden handled Alm and Celica’s relationship any different, but this game establishes the two were childhood friends. Seemingly linked together because of the Brands on one of each of their hands.
Meanwhile, Tobin, Gray, Kliff and Faye are threatened by soldiers and Sir Mycen comes to save them. It’s here we find out about Celica’s to-be position in this land and now that the soldiers know of her whereabouts, Mycen has to move Celica to a safer place.
Alm and Celica promise they’ll meet again in the future and with that, we jump about 7 years ahead.
Now Act 1, where Gaiden begins.
Alm’s now 17 years old and being trained by Sir Mycen. One day, a member of an army called the Deliverance called Lukas, comes to Ram Village in search of Sir Mycen, but he didn’t decide to go.
Alm, wanting to leave the village anyway, volunteered to help, and with Tobin and Gray (and if you want, Kliff and Faye too) the group head out and Alm’s already accomplishing a lot.
In Act 2, we play as Celica, who’s also 17 years old.
She leaves the castle she was sent to by Sir Mycen to investigate the failings of the crops and figures Mila has something to do with it and goes to search for her. Along with her friends Mae and Boey (and if you want, Genny too), they go to adventure.
In due time, Alm and Celica meet up again, but it’s a short-lived reunion as friction between the two causes them to split paths. Well that was… sudden.
From here the story kinda… pauses, if I can put it any other way.
Alm’s side has him getting to the north all while defeating bad guys in his way and occasionally, Berkut.
Celica’s side is like a damsel in distress kind of plot, but her side also has lots more side quest-like missions like saving Est. Also trying to figure out who this masked person is.
Overall it’s serviceable, but I prefer Alm’s side because he has more going for him and is the only side to really have Rival Units. Celica’s side is okay at best, but there are some really strange moments and parts of the story feel forced, starting with when Celica has her row with Alm.
In a sense, it makes it feel like Celica’s side doesn’t matter in the long run, but my biggest issue with this story is actually the relationship between Alm and Celica.
I know the Fire Emblem series isn’t a Romance series (say what you will about Awakening and Fates), but if they have two characters romantically involved, then I’d like to see development or enough to make me fully believe it.
While in this case, I believe it, I still don’t feel there was enough. There’s parts where the two will think about each other and even rarer, they’ll actually talk to each other via magic, but they’re rare.
An unfortunate consequence of splitting up their paths and like my general opinion on the story, serviceable. I just wanted more. A lot more.
It seems this game wants to put a heavier focus on the individual characters, which incoming unpopular opinion here, I don’t think are that good for a handful of them. I played the game twice to see if my opinion changed.
I like that every character has a rather elaborate backstory, but I don’t feel there’re enough moments where the characters are their true selves when they’re not on the Battlefield, therefore making the characters feeling boring in a personality sense.
I could probably pick out a top 10 and it’s not like I dislike a whole lot of them. In fact, the only ones I’m not a big fan of are Faye and Gray.
Like in most Fire Emblem games, only plot-important characters get dialogue during cutscenes and you can talk to them in villages or the like. Otherwise, there are the mostly really boring Supports, but even after all that, I still don’t feel invested with a handful of the cast.
We’re introduced to them, and then after their little quests, they’re silent for the rest of the main story.
Cutscenes are given to us mainly by cutouts of the characters with only their facial expressions changing and not their body which… is a shame, but at least it’s consistent throughout the series, and to the game’s credit, I think the character designs and art style are some of the best I’ve seen in the series.
Now drawn by Hidari instead of Yusuke Kozaki from Awakening and Fates. Don’t get me wrong, I love Yusuke’s art, but I think Hidari’s just better for Fire Emblem.
Cutscenes are also fully voiced and for the most part I think it’s brilliant stuff. Only a few times did I think that a certain line was uttered in a weird way or a character generally sounding incredibly bored. Catria is the main one I think of when I think of bored VA.
The music accompanied is fine and it fits the mood, though I can’t say I remember a whole lot of tracks in the game; there are some stand-out ones, but that’s it.
I also wish that there was different music to accompany Support Conversations, but no, music played during them is based on where you viewed it.
I said before that Supports in this game aren’t very good for the most part, so let me elaborate.
Firstly, Supports are something Gaiden didn’t have and in Echoes, they work like not how they did in Awakening and Fates, but rather the GBA games like the Binding Blade. A change which if I’m honest, I don’t know why they reverted back to.
If Units are within two spaces of each other as they fight, they’ll gain Bond Points and soon, they can talk to each other, but besides this minor change… that’s it.
The amount of Support Conversations have dropped substantially; around 3 or 4 per character. Sometimes less or none at all.
I know Fates went a bit overboard with the amount of Supports and I’ll admit, I never went for them all, but I liked that there was an option. An option for us to learn as much about the characters as possible and showing many sides to them.
Most characters in Echoes such as the three Pegasus Sisters can only Support each other, but no one else, therefore, I feel like what I know about them is limited. Though at least with the Sisters, I did enjoy their conversations.
Supports are also generally short and don’t contain a whole lot to them if at all. They’re possibly short due to the fact that they take place on the Battlefield, but that only raises another problem to me: Why on the Battlefield?
The game has a completely functional Overworld, so I don’t understand why they don’t take place there and it could add more variety in the Support Conversations. In fact, the DLC Cipher characters do what I wish this game did more of in this field.
Their conversations are long and entertaining, relatively Slice-of-Life, I feel like I know more about them. To be fair, they don’t have much else because they are DLC characters.
Actually Memory Prisms viewed in Mila’s Turnwheel do something similar, except viewing the past instead, before the events of Echoes, and just like the DLC characters, long, interesting and maybe entertaining.
That’s just the Units we play as though. If we’re talking about the entire cast, I think the villains are much better for the most part.
Some you just love to hate and some of the more prominent ones are great because of their development throughout the story.
Daddy Lord Berkut and Fernand are my personal favourites though one thing on Berkut’s side does slightly confuse me. Spoilers if I was to discuss it.
To be honest, it might be because I came out of playing Tales of Berseria that makes me have these opinions.
Villages, Castles, etc. like I said, are a place where you can learn more about your Army, but it’s also a place where you can talk with the locals or even interact with the surroundings not only to find items, but to learn more about the world.
For the most part, I think this game does a great job in World Building, even if there are too many Cats. When interacting with certain objects though, I sometimes wish we got more opinions on what they’re looking at. Maybe at least the main Army members like Tobin or Boey, but it’s only ever Alm or Celica.
In Villages, you can do some side quests too. Some may take a while because of the type of mission like looking for this very specific shield, but none are that difficult. Not like they’re asking you to beat the Final Boss 10 times.
You can also take this time to upgrade Weapons you pick up using Silver and Gold coins at Smithys. You can’t buy Weapons, but with the amount you find laying around during your travels, you’re bound to have enough. Just be wise on which you decide to upgrade at the Smithy.
Silver and Gold coins are pretty damn rare. Especially Gold.
Silver coins can be found in many places such as small Armies the enemy will send out on the Overworld, some Castles and in Dungeons, but if you want to upgrade your Weapons to max, you’ll need a LOT of Silver coins and usually high ranking Weapons will need Gold coins too.
Silver coins are obviously much easier to come by, but it’s very boring having to go through so many battles to get enough Silver coins and in Dungeons, you can only get Silver coins from pots or crates you break… at random… and one Silver coin at a time.
Gold coins are even rarer as you can usually only find them with certain Bosses. What you can do is trade in 500 Silver coins for a Gold coin, but… god damn.
Now why do I think price is a rather big issue in this game? It’s because I think this game can be quite brutal at times. I feel the game really wants us to upgrade our Weapons as much as you can, but with a normal play through without grinding, you won’t really get that many Weapons high enough to counter the enemies you’ll come across.
A good place to grind is in Dungeons, the selling point of the game and I think they work well.
Besides exploring, breaking crates and getting Silver coins, you can fight enemies. Enemies are clear on the field and depending on how you encounter them, the battle will start differently ranging from having the enemy start first or having them at lower Health (HP).
Other enemy formations close by can also join the battle if they’re close enough to the one you encountered, but I don’t feel the game tells us very well beforehand if another enemy is close by. Sometimes they’re outside your view and then you’ll see another set of enemies join in. It’s not like Tales of games where the game will tell you if they’re close enough.
Dungeons typically aren’t difficult though. You might encounter a difficult enemy formation every now and then, but you should be fine for the most part, and your Army’s HP refill after each battle. The main thing you should look out for is Fatigue.
Fatigue is something that updates between battles and comes in four levels. At the highest, a Unit can have upped stats, but at the lowest, Units will have halved HP. Hey, better than having a Unit unusable for a while.
Another thing to keep in mind, but less so, is Mila’s Turnwheel. A mechanic that can rewind time a number of times so you can retry attacks, ‘revive’ Units who fell, etc.
In some sense, I feel like it’s overpowered, but some sense I feel it’s fair. The thing is, is that it makes Unit deaths slightly less of a worry and also that you can go pretty far back in time. I don’t even know the limit. Theoretically, you could go back to the very start of the battle.
At the same time, I feel the RNG in this game I can be insanely bad. Missing more often than I think it should and with Mila’s Turnwheel, you can alleviate some of those issues.
Fatigue and the Turnwheel is really only an added challenge in Dungeons because the two will be resorted after you leave the Dungeon, but in Dungeons, there are also Mila Statues to refill the two by making offerings. After battles on the Overworld on the other hand, the two will automatically refill.
Mila Statues also let Units change Class after reaching certain Levels. There aren’t as many Classes, but it’s to that much of an issue to me.
The above are just the ‘new’ additions to the Fire Emblem formula. Otherwise, there’s the battles which you know how works for the most part. Battles are turn-based where you move your Units into position or attack the enemy and then the enemy will do the same. Units have different attack ranges depending on their Class. Such as Magic Units have more than one range.
I find that Bow and Magic Units are the best Classes in this game.
Bow Units actually have Range and very soon in the game, you’ll be attacking from three or more ranges away. Bows do have relatively low Hit Rates though.
Magic Units are much stronger and have typically fixed accuracy at the cost of HP. It’s an interesting way of using Magic that I welcome. I do think some White Magic however do use an absurd amount of HP. But furthermore, Magic Units I find aren’t as Defensively (and Resistantly) helpless. So they can actually battle alongside whatever White Magic they can perform.
As I said earlier, the Weapon Triangle is not in this game, so you don’t need to send certain Colour Units to a certain enemy formation to the left and another to the right for example, but this also means you have to be more strategic with what Units you use to defeat enemies.
I don’t mind that and in a sense, I prefer the mechanics in this game a bit more than what I’ve played previously which isn’t much, but unfortunately, there are quite a numerous amount of things that bug me in this game.
Difficulty is something I mentioned before, but it’s a bit more than that. The beginning of the game is a smooth ride, but I find that very quickly, the difficulty will catch up. Sometimes with enemies with stats double what you have. It’s insane.
Again, grind, but it leads to another issue besides artificially extending game time. I feel the Growth Rates in this game are oddly awful in this game. I’ve counted too many times where I get only one or two stat ups and it’s so frustrating.
Furthermore, the Resistance stat for the most part for some reason, has an absurdly low Growth Rate. From what I’ve seen mostly 4%s.
Early game, that’s not an issue as most Units will be Physical-based anyway, but later on as Magic Units become more of a thing, then it becomes an issue. Especially those damn Witches and Conjures.
Witches can warp anywhere on the Map and beware if they end up warping near a Unit with crappy Resistance which is quite a handful of them.
Conjures do what they say they do and it just prolongs a battle because they can send out so many at once and worse, sometimes the Conjurer could be summoning Witches. The weird thing though is that Conjures need to use HP to Conjure, but they have healing on them by default. So to me, it’s pointless for them to lose HP by summoning. They might as well be free-to-use spells.
Lastly, who the hell designed the Maps in this game? Early Maps in this game consist of absurdly wide Maps and late-game, Maps are stupidly complex.
I feel like most of the Maps want to utilise the terrain more, but some Maps don’t even have that, but it just makes some battles revolve around ‘get cover first, then go to town’. Because of the wide Maps though, I sometimes lose where my Units are, realising my turn hasn’t ended yet, then finding out my other Units are on the other side of the map.
The complex maps are normally with the Castles, having walls or one-way areas that prevent you from doing much and to get past without getting destroyed requires you use a specific Unit lots of times to get past them. Usually Bow Units as they have the longest range. It’s very boring.
Dungeon Maps aren’t that much better either because they’re just square will a couple of walls.
One of the worst things about the Maps in this game though is that they reuse a handful of them. It’s very lazy and it’s actually rather jarring for a game in this day and age.
I feel like I’m usually more negative in these reviews, but it’s just that as a remake, I expect them to change a lot from Gaiden. There are some changes for the better, but some haven’t changed at all such as Maps. It’s just an instance where I think they were being too faithful.
For the Battle mechanics I would like to see utilised in a better Fire Emblem game, but chances are they won’t go back to this kind of style. This was a remake after all.
I do enjoy Fire Emblem Echoes a lot. I played it twice after all, and comparing it to Fates, I sometimes like it a lot more, but at times I also dislike it a lot more.
I enjoyed the base gameplay and its story for the most part, but I am not a very big fan of a handful of the characters in this game and that’s honestly what makes the game just a bit more boring to me if it’s not the obnoxious Map designs or its difficulty.
The music is good and the art is fantastic, I would totally recommend this game to any Fire Emblem fan old or new. For a newcomer, I’d say be prepared.
Final Score: [7.5/10]
I wasn’t sure if I should give it an 8.
Thanks for reading and it took me a while to get all my notes down which is why this review is so… late.
Let me know what you think of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. I know some of my opinions are rare. Especially the characters.
I’ll probably draw some Fire Emblem Echoes stuff later down the line (Fire Emblem never seems to stop), but I likely won’t draw as much as I did with Fates.
See you later!
Nice to meet you! My name’s Jack. Online name: GamefreakDX. Sometimes shortened to GFreak or Game.
I’m just a British 19 year old person with a Chinese background who draws for fun mostly. Those drawings typically include things related to Gaming, Anime and Giant Girls (aka. Giantess).
Most of these drawings are more of the SFW type. I’ve delved into NSFW before, but they’re rare.
I'm also a fan of Yuri. Um, Soft Yuri. Not exactly the hentai stuff. *ahem*
Please feel free to traverse through my gallery, and I hope you enjoy what you see.
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