I have been rather disappointed in myself as of late, as I have not submitted a new review in the Lorian since last semester. In my defense, however, I must admit that I have been completely enamored with a new game that I would like to bring to attention now: “Fire Emblem Fates.”
Similarly to the Pokémon franchise, “Fates” currently features two versions of the game. However, the two versions, named “Conquest” and “Birthright,” are not in any way similar to one another the way Pokémon tends to be and are instead actually very different experiences. Having just been released in North America not more than a few weeks ago on Feb. 19, I have only finished one of the two games that are currently available in this installment and will therefore discuss it for the most part.
“Fire Emblem Fates” hinges on the main character, customizable by the player to suit their interests, who is revealed to have been kidnapped and raised by the royalty of the kingdom called Nohr. Having had the memories of their childhood wiped, they do not know that their blood belongs to the kingdom of Hoshido. The story begins with the discovery of these facts, with the first six chapters of the games having no difference, but the stories splinter and branch off when the player is confronted with the choice to side with one kingdom over the other in their war against one another.
If the player chooses to join their kin of Hoshido, they will follow the path of “Birthright,” a game that so far follows a similar style as “Fates” most recent predecessor, “Awakening.” It features backtracking and grinding opportunities so that the player may develop and watch their units grow. It is regarded as an easier method of acclimation for new players of the franchise and has a tendency to be a bit easier.
Should the player choose to side with adoptive family of Nohr, however, they will go down the path of “Conquest.” This is the one that I first chose to play, and has mechanics that cater more toward series veterans. Stages of the game are limited, so every move in every battle truly counts, and there is no real way to completely cover every aspect of each unit’s relationships with one another since there is no redo. The goals of each stage also feature more complex and difficult ends than those in “Birthright,” requiring certain conditions in order to finish the challenge.
“Conquest” follows a path that is considered to be much more morally gray than “Birthright” as the player pledges their loyalty to the evil king and father that has been oppressing Hoshido for years, and the character will be perceived or questioned as evil themselves by many side characters in the game. But the character has a strong belief that they will be able to change Nohr from within with the help of their siblings and other followers met along the way.
Each version, however, is not without its guilt as the player is tasked with choosing to instill or reassign the loyalties that tear them apart, and they must choose a family that has cared for them for years, regardless of the fact that they came about joining the family through questionable means, or they must choose to betray the only family they have known for one that, though they are legitimately related to, they have never truly known.
Both games feature tactical turn-based battling, where units may be moved about the map to go after and rout the enemy forces. The story progresses through the introduction of new characters in the rare cutscene or the dialogue exchanged between them on and off the battlefield. In all honesty, the game is a whole load of fun to play, whether the player is kicking butt on the chessboard-like field, building supports through the characters, or customizing their hub-area castle.
Each version of “Fates” is very clearly completely different from the other game, both in the choices that the player makes and the consequences that follow, but even the gameplay mechanics presented to the player are really quite separate. I have seen the path of “Conquest” through to the bittersweet end, and thoroughly look forward to finishing up on “Birthright” as well, which I have a few hours invested in so far.
I look forward even further to the third version DLC that will be released in about a week from the time that I write this. Called “Revelation,” it will allow the player to have the option of siding with neither of the first two kingdoms that they are presented with and to instead find a new method of bringing peace to the two of them. I only hope that I will have finished up with “Birthright” by the time “Revelation” will be made available on March 10.
The first game you might buy is available for the Nintendo 3DS for $40, which while certainly not cheap is quite worth its price. The game’s story is so much fun to experience, and the soundtrack featured in it is moving and magical. Plus, upon purchasing one version of the installment, the other versions are discounted at half the original price, so that rather than pay $80 for the first two versions “Conquest” and “Birthright,” you might only pay $60. And the “Revelation” DLC will also be discounted to $20, so it is like buying three completely different games for the technical price of two.