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Game of the Month – February 2013: Fire Emblem Awakening

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3DS_FireEmblemAwakening_package_NOAI played a few games throughout February, but only one had a major impact on me, and that game is Fire Emblem Awakening.

Let me start by saying that I am a complete newbie to the Fire Emblem series. I learned about some of the characters thanks to the Super Smash Bros. games, and was a little familiar with the basics of the gameplay, but never did I have the pleasure of playing any of the games.

Before starting the game, I knew that I wanted to have the full Fire Emblem experience, so I decided to play with the classic rules. Those familiar with Fire Emblem know that when a character dies in Fire Emblem, they’re gone for good. No way was I going to play a Fire Emblem game with the casual setting turned on, I would have cheated myself out of an incredible, and emotional journey. While I did play with the classic rules, I didn’t play on the hard or lunatic difficulties, instead, I kept it at the normal level to ensure I had some sanity left after my time with the game.

I got the hang of the classic rules after playing a few chapters, but not before losing a few units. I decided to keep going instead of quitting and reloading my save file. I soon became attached to the game’s characters and wanted to make sure they were all getting used during battle. I watched their levels and stats grow, and learned which characters were best for each situation. Even though I felt that my characters were strong enough for any situation, the threat of death was around every corner. Eventually, I ended up dying, quite a bit actually.

Every time I lost one of my strongest characters, I turned the game off and started the chapter from the beginning. I didn’t do this all the time, just the majority. In fact, I intentionally sacrificed a couple of characters during the end stretch to gain a strategic advantage, however, something strange happened during these sacrifices, a feeling came over me that no other video game has ever managed to evoke. I couldn’t help but feel that their death was similar to that of a warrior dying with honor on the battlefield. Their life and death played an important role in furthering my position in the war, it was then when I realized that I was finally ready to let go.

The strategic gameplay was something that pulled me in like no other RPG has ever done before; it was actually a little addicting. Something about moving around the grid felt so satisfying, a feeling that other turn-based RPGs can’t offer. You’d think that Fire Emblem Awakening was my first tactical RPG, but I have played Final Fantasy Tactics, although that was like 13 years ago. Fire Emblem Awakening not only reignited my interest in the genre, but also for the series.

There are a lot of other reasons behind choosing Fire Emblem Awakening to be game of the month. Fire Emblem Awakening has a high replay value with a ton of content worth seeing. In addition to the main quest, there are eighteen paralogues to play. Paralogues are essentially the same length as most chapters and offer new characters to recruit while offering a good challenge. One of the game’s best characters is recruited during a paralogue, plus they are great for gaining some extra experience outside of the normal grind. Fire Emblem Awakening also offers a nice bit of DLC right now with a nice bit on the way. I only had the chance to play the free DLC offered by Nintendo, but I really enjoyed it and feel that it is implemented well. Completing DLC may reward you with classic Fire Emblem characters, or even new character classes, making them worthy of a download, in my opinion.

Outside of additional quests, Fire Emblem Awakening’s class system is absolutely stellar. After getting a character to level 10, you gain the option to upgrade to an advanced class by using an in-game item. Changing to an advanced class will start you over from level 1, but you gain the ability to learn new skills. Skills can give you advantages during gameplay such as moving a second time, gaining a permanent boost to your maximum HP and many more. You can also switch classes whenever you reach your class’s max level. The obvious advantage here is that you start from level 1, as mentioned above, which gives you the ability to grow your character’s stats once again. Essentially, you can keep doing this until your unit is strong enough to mow down a field of enemies alone.

Honestly, I could go on and on about Fire Emblem Awakening – if you want to learn more about the game, please check out my review. I’ll definitely be checking out more games in the series now that I’ve had that first taste. For that reason alone, Fire Emblem Awakening is the perfect pick for game of the month.