‘Fire Emblem: Awakening’ review: Switch up your playstyle in SRPG masterpiece

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By YP reader Kristen Chu Lui-sum, Good Hope School

This tactical role-playing game for the Nintendo 3DS is great for fans of strategy games

By YP reader Kristen Chu Lui-sum, Good Hope School |
Published: 
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The gameplay can be compared to a fancy game of chess.

In Fire Emblem: Awakening, you assume the identity of an amnesiac tactician who is recruited into Chrom, the crown prince of Ylisse’s, personal army.

You’re quickly thrust into battle with armies of undead “Risen”, and amongst the increasing tensions between Ylisse and the neighbouring nation of Plegia, the arrival of a mysterious figure from the future kickstarts the story into a fantastical, riveting epic that serves as the perfect conclusion – and eventually, rebirth – to the long-standing classic that is Fire Emblem.

 

The gameplay of any Fire Emblem game can be essentially condensed into a fancy game of chess. With a weapon triangle mechanic similar to that of rock-paper-scissors, the nuances of this simple rule set are brought to light in the deliciously diverse terrains that Awakening brings to the table. Whether it be charging head  into danger or patiently whittling away at the enemy, the art of strategy is never lost in the original ingenuity of its level design.

What sets Awakening apart from other tactical role-playing games or even its predecessors, however, is its expert portrayal of its characters. Even with its enormous cast, no single character is passed over as a cheaply written, disposable unit to fill up party space.

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These are real, tangible personalities that you spend time levelling, learning about, and inevitably, fall in love with. Which, when paired with the game’s other significant feature – permanent death, drives the reality of fiction very, very close to home.

To nitpick, the in-game graphics are simply put, not the best. Though the battle system it used was ahead of its time, the layering of 2D sprites over a 3D map can be jarring at times. But with that said, its charismatic characters and rich, enthralling world and brilliant writing and undoubtedly puts Awakening among the best tactical RPGs of all time.

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