Review: Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright & Conquest (3DS)
What is War, War can be defined as ‘a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country’. There are no words better than this, to describe the conflict in Fire Emblem Fates. The infamous tactical role-playing game Fire Emblem returns in one of the most heart-rending stories to date. Fire Emblem Fates puts you in the shoes of a protagonist that is torn between two Kingdoms, namely Hoshido and Nohr. The two Kingdoms are at war and it is up to you to bring peace to the land and bridge the gap between the two Kingdoms. The burning question is who will you choose? Your birth family Hoshido in Fire Emblem: Birthright or your adopted family Nohr in Fire Emblem: Conquest.
The protagonist in Fire Emblem Fates is a customizable avatar named Corrin, although this can be changed so technically you’ll be playing as yourself. Customizable options offered are, Male or Female, height, hair, hair color, facial expressions and your characters voice. It does a good job of integrating the player into the game and familiarizing the player with the various mechanics. The first six chapters of the game are in fact exactly the same, introducing you to both the Nohr royal family which are your adopted siblings and the Hoshido royal family which are your birth siblings. The build-up within the six chapters is an emotional one, building up to the BIG decision – whether choosing Hoshido or Nohr. They truly make the decision a difficult one but of course this all depends on the version you purchased. I can assure you though whichever side you choose, you will remain doubtful of your decision throughout the game.
I truly commend the writers Shin Kibayashi, Yukinori Kitajima and Nami Komuro on the story in this title. The story is what captivated me the most as I found myself losing sleep due to not wanting to put down my 3DS, always thinking about what the next chapter will bring. There were times that almost made me shed a tear and yet others that made me rejoice in victory for the glorious victory I had just achieved in making it out of battle with all my units intact.
With Fire Emblem being a turn-based tactical role-playing game a lot of mechanics goes into the actual battle phase of the game. The units (siblings/allies) are thrown in each chapter across a grid-based battlefield. Using the terrain around you with regards to traps, obstacles and enemy locations you’ll have to equip your units accordingly with weaponry, skills as well as build relationships across your allies for more support within the battle. Fire Emblem Fates thankfully brings back the weapon triangle and also includes a few more weapons in the mix so you’ll have to choose your units wisely before going into battle. Just as the previous Fire Emblem title, you’ll be able to preview your moves before setting them in stone to see your chances at success allowing you to pull back a unit and send forth another to slay the enemy at hand. Fates also implements three difficulty options namely normal, hard and lunatic as well as three different modes namely Phoenix, Casual and Classic. Fans of the franchise will be familiar with the modes casual setup which allows you to bring back a unit who has fallen in battle, but only once the battle has ended and of course the infamous perma-death mode. This is known as classic mode where if a unit dies in battle that unit can never be brought back. Phoenix mode however, which is the latest edition to the franchise, allows a fallen unit to return to the battle during your next turn. Fire Emblem remains to this day the most glorified game of chess I’ve ever played.
Welcome to my Castle
In-between chapters you’ll be taken to a place called Castle. Basically a base of sorts where you’ll be able to customize and develop throughout the game. You’ll be able to place buildings in your castle such as an armory, a mess hall, a prison (you’ll be able to capture enemies during battle and convert them in your prison to fight alongside you), arena, smithy and quite a number of other objects. What’s even more interesting about the Castle is that you’ll be able to visit other players castles and trade resources with them or perhaps initiate a battle with them. This is after all War!
Reclaim your Birthright
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is probably where a lot of new comers to the series should begin. The Hoshido Kingdom is symbolized as the light in this story. The Kingdom is filled with color and bright settings/locations. The characters in Birthright were designed to appear as if they’ve been taken directly from Japanese culture, including characters such as Ninja’s and Samurai. The characters personalities are a lot more relaxed and laid back compared to their Nohr counter parts in Conquest.
Begin your Conquest
Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is actually the more challenging of the two and is probably where Veterans of the series would want to begin, that is of course if they do not play all three titles. The Kingdom of Nohr is symbolized as darkness. The Kingdom settings and locations have a dark underground feel to it with the characters costume designs being the same.
Fire Emblem Fates is more than just a turn-based tactical role-playing game. With its deep storyline, superb soundtrack and stunning settings, this title will break your heart, mend it back together and then break it again. Each title will leave you wondering how the other plays out. I highly recommend playing all three titles with Birthright being the first, then Conquest and finally Revelation.