The series Fire Emblem, literally gained a second life on Nintendo 3DS, continues to capture the minds and strengthen the recommended tactical games of this generation. After Fates the part of the Studio went on to create a new game in the series for Nintendo Switch, while the rest of the developers decided to return to the roots.
Echoes, Fire Emblem: Shadow of Valentia – rethinking Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second project in the series, released on the NES over twenty-five years ago. To the Western market Gaiden never made it, despite the exit games in the Virtual Console, which, like the original, remained a Japanese exclusive. Traditionally, the release of fresh Echoes died down first on the home market and only now got to the West, allowing the English-speaking fans for the first time to officially dive into the world of Gaiden.
The story of Valentia tells the story of the eponymous continent, is split into two parts. These lands were anciently the home of two dragons, who were United by family ties, but were in a state of perpetual war. Deity Duma represented the government, preferring to solve all conflicts aggression and raw power than stark contrast to his sister Mila, who believe in love and kindness. In the end, the gods had signed an agreement that divided the continent in half and scattered on opposite sides. Subsequently, in the region formed two human state, fully adopted the principles and ideas of its patrons.
Unlike the two previous games in the series with Nintendo 3DS, Shadow of Valentia does not provide the player the possibility to create your avatar. Instead, as in the original Gaiden, the main character acts pre-written and voiced character. Or rather, two.
The story begins in one of the southern villages of the mainland, where some of the orphans playing catch-up and walk through the woods. Among the children are the main acting figures of the story – a boy named Alm, who lives with his constantly otlichayuscheisya on the Affairs of a grandfather and the girl Celicathat that the grandfather brought from his last trip. The kids quickly found a common language, and soon the couple vowed each other eternal friendship to the grave. The laws of the genre, the heroes are brutally separated, and Alm, like a real man and a fighter, is going to grow, become stronger and find his lost passion, wherever it was. And while the child learns to hold a sword with the right hand, the continent is immersed in local political conflicts.
A few years later, to the village to matured Alm’visited by anxious soldiers, telling you that the king of the southern Kingdom killed in a coup. Meanwhile, at the other end of the continent, grown-up Celica is sent to the peacekeeping mission to the temple of the dragon goddess. Then follows a series of fairly predictable scenes that lead to further the objectives of the adventures of the main heroes to return peace and order on the continent, gradually driving the gameplay.
The player will take control of two separate armies at the same time promoting Western front, driven Alm’om, which, like the precepts of a dark God decides all conflicts by brute force, and the Eastern path, who chose the Celica, destroying most of the evil and the damned witch, bringing good and prosperity.
The story is all fantasy templates projects and offers several improvements relative to the original release. There was a place for new characters, familiar colleagues appeared a little fresh information, and some narrative scenes drawn in the form of cute animated inserts.
Traditional Intro with a plot twist of the last ten minutes of the adventure completely destroys the whole affair, knocking out all possible scenarios even before we start the game. And it’s very frustrating when you realize that unlike Awakening, the final Echoes offers an unexpected and really interesting twists and turns.
Being the progenitor of the tactical genre, Fire Emblem remains true to itself in the basic mechanics. The player has at his disposal a group of a dozen brave warriors and with their help tries to overcome the army of the enemy, moving around the map step by step. Correct positioning, combining and understanding of the characters and their abilities opens up huge strategic opportunities in every level for this genre and praised by the fans of thoughtful and intelligent games.
The first thing that catches the eye is the updated visual style. The developers have changed the artists for the style Echoes answer Hidari and Akio Shimada, known for jRPG Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea and the anime series Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor , respectively. As a result, compared to the Fates, the game noticeably decreased the number of visual fan service. Armor and uniforms nicely fit into the surroundings, not peligrosas with unnecessary details or irrelevant pretentious ogrenimi the loin parts of the body. Although it should be noted that these elements still have a place to be.
But the design of the directly characters varies from good to secondary. A good part of the party members is absolutely not to remember, because nearly the only distinguishing feature among them is the hair color.
However, the main problem of the impersonality of local heroes is not their appearance, and study the motivations, personal histories and the logic of events. In contrast to later projects in the series, Gaiden characters are mostly not develop relationships among themselves.
The now familiar system of couples and relationships have thinned considerably. The warriors did not come to the aid of their comrades in battle, not combined into more powerful units, and at first glance do not receive any bonuses from rank the friendship that he had lost the letter S, and now amounts to only C, B, A. the relationship between the squad members is strictly prescribed and do not move from a dead point, and the additional dialogs that are opened by the increase of friendship, a very poor, uninformative and mostly not interesting. Wedding system that divided fans into two camps that are not represented in the Echoes of any kind.
Widely advertised processing system “stone-scissors-paper” was quite controversial finding. Spearmen have no advantage against swordsmen and swordsmen don’t dominate the warriors with an axe, because axes in the game simply no. Shadow of Valentia was very conservative and haven’t received most of the classes, abilities and weapons that appeared after the release of the original Gaiden, causing variability to the battles, lost a few points.
Moreover, the new revision of the Fire Emblem, still paying tribute to the original, lost system multiCLASS. The characters, with rare exceptions, increase the level and rank of their basic profession and can’t change the vector of its development to match the needs of the player. For example, a situation may arise in which your army may require at least one Archer, and make it unnecessary and the fifth soldier is simply impossible. A similar approach could be taken if the developers tried to create the unique and unrepeatable experience of the Gaiden, which forced the player to adjust their tactics with a fixed set of tools, but changing system classes already announced in a separate paid downloadable addition, completely destroying any chain of logic.
A nice addition was the artifact Turnwheelthat allows directly in combat under bad circumstances “undo” several moves ago and use other tactics to pass the level. On the one hand, this is an obvious simplification. On the other – Fire Emblem is a game with many random situations in which one successful critical hit the enemy with a chance of a few percent completely destroys a player build a tactical plan that can be implemented over an hour, and in this case unpredictable combination of circumstances is unlikely to bring positive emotions. So this innovation had to be very helpful. But here, the developers made a mistake. At the death of the main character, the game instantly ends, making it impossible to use the wheel.
Another significant innovation was the system of caves where the main character is completely left to the player, as in most modern representatives of the genre of Japanese role-playing games. Dungeony are a set of floors and narrow corridors, which move the enemies guarding the chests with valuable items. On unsuspecting enemies, you can attack it proactively and get a bonus advantage, but because of the abominable range of drawing there are often situations when enemy troops appear right in front, giving no chance to react.
Monsters can attack groups, and, again, due to the small range of visibility, you can inadvertently attack the two, and then three armies of evil, reducing its chances of winning significantly. Considering that of the battles in the dungeons it is impossible to retreat, usually such clashes lead to the end of the game and reload the save.
Found in the dungeons of the money can be spent on better weapons, which now has no strength parameters and, accordingly, does not break. If earlier each fighter could have in the Arsenal of several instruments, be it magic or sword, and combine them based on the benefits in the current situation, in the Shadows of Valentia refused it. One unit can carry only one artifact, a weapon or defensive item that doesn’t break and gives permanent passive bonuses.
Learning new magic and skills typically occurs with increasing grade level. Since spells no longer require flow strength of magic books, the main resource for creation of fireballs is health, and the stronger the spell, the more damage will take the magician. Some types of items may also give your vehicle a new skill. For example, a little war with a Leather shield becomes available skill Swap, swap target and directly by a user. However, these weapon skills are quite few and they are mostly useless, especially if you don’t play at a high level of complexity.
Graphics, though not made a giant leap forward, but got a couple extra weather and lighting effects. Maps sometimes look quite empty and featureless, but it’s apparently made in favor of the similarity of the build levels with the original, where the tools landscape display was quite poor, due to the limitations of the system. Accordingly, the entire geometry of the field of combat is quite simple, and the majority of the main characters fight with enemies in the middle of nowhere.
English localization Shadow of Valentia brings only positive emotions. The team responsible for the musical accompaniment, again gave players remarkable and atmospheric music fits perfectly into what is happening.
If we forgave the Fates of numerous narrative problems due to the polished mechanics, then do so with this game does not work. Echoes, Fire Emblem: Shadow of Valentia ignores the majority of the innovations that occurred with the series for twenty years. On paper this approach looks like a tribute to the classics, but it affects the variability of the gameplay and flexibility of the personal style of the passage in comparison with modern members of the series. Of course, blasphemous to accuse a remake to follow the original, but now this approach may seem outdated and order surface, and this will disappoint players who are missing the nostalgic stroke at the mention of NES and Fire Emblem Gaiden.