Fire Emblem Fates is finally here after four years since the release of the last installment of the long running tactical RPG franchise.
This review will be covering the Conquest side of Fire Emblem Fates, check back for a review of the Birthright side later.
Fire Emblem has had a long history of great storytelling and smart tactical gameplay, and Fates:Conquest is no different. The game takes the concept of choice and runs with it from start to finish.
Fates is beautiful, everything about it emanates this beauty from the art to the music and even the character design. The art is drawn in an anime like style for its 2d stills, but for cinematics looks fluid in appearance. This gives the game a unique flavor from previous entries, and is just breathtaking to watch.
The music of this game is also expertly made, really striking the emotions of each scene excellently and pulls at your heart when the darker parts of the story are taking place.
For Conquest the game really takes the versions “dark/night” theme to great lenghts. The colors all sing in black and purples to really sell the descent into the terrible choices the game may has you make. Even the armor the characters wear is done in a dark way, with sharp edges that give off and almost authoritative feel.
Conquest is designed to make Nohr, the protagonist kingdom in this version, look evil Germanic, with architecture that looks like old fashion German manses and castles. Names such as Castle Krakenberg also sell this notion for the player.
Fire emblem has traditionally always told a deep story that held hope for the player throughout. A goal that seems obtainable for the main character of the story.
Conquest changes this slightly. Instead of offering clear hope, it replaces it with a dream that is constantly battered down throughout the course of the nearly 15 hours story.
After the first six intro chapters the player is forced to make a choice to side with either his birth family in the light bathed country of Hoshido, or his adopted family in the night darkened country of Nohr. Conquest tell the Nohr side of the story.
The main player character, defaultly called Corrin, is battered with hard choices, self doubt and the problem of having to fight his blood siblings, sometimes to the death. This plays well in this game and really sells the drama of a character struggling to keep his morality while fighting a war against people he considers family. The game brings dark moments easy and often to really batter both Corrin and the player to make them both question their resolve.
The character stories also remain incredibly strong. One notable example is the child of one of the main characters who is revealed to be a crossdresser. The game doesn’t cartoon the character or turn it into a gag but rather showcases the mindset and shows the character as a real person. Something other games tend to handle poorly.
Arguably this is one of the most well told Fire Emblem stories in the franchise’s history.
The gameplay of Fire Emblem remains solid. Striking a balance between the different map objectives in order to make each battle feel fresh.
The standard kill all enemies maps still take a majority of the spotlight but is supplement with some objectives like seize areas of the map, survive and escape. As this version doesn’t offer much extra maps to grow your army, each successive map tests your skills to make tactical decisions and really get the most out of the characters you have,
Some big changes did make their way to this game, such as the consolidation of the game’s long running weapon triangle to change how you approach each enemy, giving you more tactical options in dealing with certain enemy weapon classes.
Another change comes to the games support system. Traditionally the game would grant bonuses to characters that would stand next to each other in the form of stat boosts and potentially extra attacks. In Fates there are two versions of support, the traditional standing adjacent which causes an offensive support and a pairing support that offers a defensive/ movement based support.
The last notable change is the addition of the phoenix mode, which revives your fallen soldiers to the battlefield the next turn, making the game significantly easier. This is recommended for players who have never played a Fire Emblem game before and are playing to enjoy the story.
Another addition to this game is the MyCastle feature, the becomes fairly gimmicky by the end of the game but still offers some cool features for your army to use.
Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest continues the series long history of excellence with a beautiful art direction, gripping story and fun and thoughtful gameplay. The game uses its themes to really sell the dark path that Corrin has chosen and lets its ride throughout the story. If you have a 3DS this is another must have for the system.