Fire Emblem: Awakening – The game that cleared the way for Fates

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The Fire Emblem.

After the game’s inception in 2012, it’s finally time for me to talk about it in 2016. I finished the game last year, and coming back to it after Fire Emblem Fates brought back fond memories of how I became a fan of the Fire Emblem franchise.Awakening is the game that veteran fans either agreed ‘saved’ the franchise or permanently sent it down the road of no return. I’m prefacing this review with the fact that I have no prior experience with Fire Emblem before Awakening, meaning that veteran fans might find my review lacking in certain areas and how they compare to older Fire Emblem games.

And now, on with the show!

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The game is will surprise you.

Story

If I had to compare the story to Fates, I’d say that Awakening’s was slightly better. The reason for this is because the game has two protagonists, you and Prince Chrom of Ylisse, which makes the narrative flow much stronger and smoother.

You start the story as an amnesiac, waking up in a field where Chrom, his sister, and his bodyguard, find you. After proving your mettle by aiding them in protecting a nearby village from a bandit attack, you join Chrom’s group of ragtag warriors known as the Sheperds – renowned throughout the kingdom for doing good deeds and generally helping small folk out.

Much of the story revolves around the game’s second protagonist, Prince Chrom. This can be a good thing if you like him and a bad thing if you don’t because he has a heavy impact on the story and how the game works.

For example, it is a requirement that Chrom talks to any character you wish to recruit. To add to that, all main quests also require him to be a permanent fixture in your party. If either your character or Chrom dies, it’s game over for you.

I found this mechanic to be quite annoying because enemies can surround them and engage them in battle if you leave either of them wide open, and if you’re unlucky and they get one too many attacks in… well, I’m sure you know frustrating it is to lose hours of progress because of one bad choice.

Other than Chrom’s major role in the story and some predictable plot twists, the game still manages to surprise me and deliver some truly amazing moments that range from hilarious to heartbreaking. It’s no wonder that Awakening got popular. A game with strong narrative and engaging gameplay is sure to capture anyone’s attention. I won’t dive into the deeper aspects of the story because it’s best if you go into the game blind, but it’s definitely one of the better JRPGs out there.

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Guess who?

Characters

I can’t touch much on this one because again, I don’t want to spoil anything for you. But personally, I enjoyed the character’s interactions quite abit. I can guarantee that there will be a character you find yourself enamored with. To put it bluntly, there’s someone for everyone in this game.

One neat feature of Awakening is the ability to match up various characters with the end goal of getting them hitched. Some of the supports I’ve read are hilarious and depending on who you match them up with, can be sad and even enlightening. It’s an interesting way of dropping hints on a character’s past and one of the more creative methods I’ve seen.

Your character, or your ‘Avatar’ if you will, can be paired with anyone of your choosing, and it’s an endlessly entertaining ride to match them with different characters and see how they interact. One thing I noticed is that the supports in Awakening are much better than the ones in Fates, they reveal more about the character and their quirks and make them more than just typical stereotypes.

The only downside to this support mechanic is that two characters have to be frequently paired in battle to unlock conversations, which means you’ll have to contend with a fair amount of grinding which can get boring after awhile.

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One ugly mofo.

Gameplay

If you’re a newbie to turn-based strategy games, you’ll need some time to get accustomed to Awakening’s battle system. While some concepts will be quite hard to grasp at first, some good advice would be not to panic and follow the instructions given. The game does a good job of guiding you through the worst of it during the beginning levels. An important thing to remember is that there’s no pressure to get things right the first time.

Some of the more detailed aspects of gameplay include the ability to switch weapons for your characters in mid-battle. This can come in very handy if you’re in a pinch, or if you want to take down as many enemies as possible during your turn.

Using higher leveled weapons for example, will increase your character’s damage and chances of landing the attack. Some weapons also have special bonuses which can deal extra damage to certain units, one example being archers dishing out double damage against Pegasus knights.

Depending on how levelled your characters are, battles can either be a breeze or very challenging. Some side quests offer the chance for you to flex your competitive muscles, and pit you against enemies that are leaps more powerful than yours. Fortunately, you can choose not to battle against them and slowly level your characters through the main quests.

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“…”

Overall

Awakening helped build the hype I had for Fire Emblem Fates, so it has a special place in my heart. The second time playing through it made me nod and go “Oh, this is definitely a good game.” which is urged me to write this review.

Even if you think this game isn’t for you, consider getting a used copy and trying it out. It might not be for everyone but it might just be your next favorite game.

8/10

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