Video Game Review: Fire Emblem: Awakening

This week, I would like to bring “Fire Emblem: Awakening” to attention. Though I first played it a little over a year ago. The hype surrounding a new installment in the “Fire Emblem” series set for release next year has had me stuck in a real “Fire Emblem” funk. So, of course, I will relieve the tension of the funk by sharing my passion concerning the game.

“Awakening” received a North American release just before the spring of 2013, and I began my first playthrough of it the summer of that year. It is a tactical RPG developed by Intelligent Systems, published by the infamous Nintendo and made to be played on the publisher’s 3DS system. It happens to be the thirteenth installment of the “Fire Emblem” series, and similar to its predecessors, features a gameplay mechanic style that I personally like to compare to playing a game of chess.

The game begins with a character customization process. The player’s character, often referred to outside of the game as “My Unit” or MU, can be altered to suit the player’s satisfaction with various heights, facial structures, hair styles, colors, and even voices. Once finished customizing, the player is thrust into the “Fire Emblem” universe, containing several towns on the continents of Ylisse and Valm. The character is confronted by a squad of three claiming to be shepherds, shortly after awakening in an empty field with no memory, except for the name of the rescuer who brings them to his or her feet, Chrom.

The story progresses as the main character is taken into the shepherds’ custody, since knowing someone’s name prior to meeting, and being an amnesiac otherwise, certainly warrants some suspicion. But eventually, Chrom relieves the character of suspect and they become the team’s tactician, allowing the player to control the allied flow of battle on the field.

Throughout the game, as characters are accrued and fight alongside one another in battle, they form relationships that may be advanced with the player’s consent through the Support mechanic. As the story progresses, the importance of building these Supports becomes more and more apparent to the continuity of gameplay.

The game even has a small archive that contains tidbits about each character, developing their personalities and making them seem just a bit more real, bringing immersion to a definite peak.
The game itself is very satisfying in an auditory sense. The subtle soundtrack that plays off and on the battlefield and during dialogue is very appropriate, never too repetitive, and quite addictive. Characters speak small lines throughout dialogue, as well, and the voices and text may be switched from English to Japanese should the player wish that to be so. Downloadable content is available for purchase as well, adding more to the game than the base that it starts with.

As stated previously, the game is available on the Nintendo 3DS. It can be purchased digitally through the Nintendo eShop on the system itself, or a hard copy may be bought from stores such as GameStop (or even the Dubuque Video Games Etc.!) for roughly $34.99 depending on the method. While not horribly cheap, it’s DEFINITELY worth the price, as it is no short game, and has loads of replay value.

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