Ten hours in and I’ve absolutely fell in love. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a remake of a previously Japan only title Fire Emblem Gaiden. We join the childhood friends of Alm and (Toyota) Celica on their adventure in finding and following their path to stop the conflict between the nations of Rigel and Zofia. With some fresh content added in the remake and a vastly different play style from what most western players are used to, Echoes is a very welcome addition to the collection.
The first thing that made me fall in love with this game are the characters. The prologue, which I’ve read is new content to give more insight on Alm and Celica’s childhood, emphasizes the characters and their relations a lot. After that, the character interactions are even further explored with the support conversations. All of this is fully voiced. Yep, fully voiced, even most the random villagers and enemies. To me, this adds quite a bit to the impact of the story, especially since the voice actors are really nailing the tone of voice for the scene.
The game play differences in this game compared to the others really make you think twice about what actions you end up executing. Archers can counter attack and have a rather long range. One of my archers has a range of 1-5 spaces away. Five spaces! Bottle-necking enemies and raining pain on them with mages and archers has never been so satisfying. On the topic of mages, they don’t use tomes for spells anymore, they have a set list of spells they learn as they level and their HP pool is their resource pool for casting spells. Clerics also use HP as a resource to cast healing spells, but they all are given an offensive spell that steals HP from an enemy so they should be used offensively as well in order to maximize their usage. There’s no more pairing up like in Awakening or Fates, which I’m happy for to be honest, and this on top of all the other combat changes makes for an enjoyable strategic experience.
This is quickly becoming my favorite of the western released Fire Emblem titles. It’s unfortunate that the combat mechanics probably won’t see use in another Fire Emblem, but I can hope! Intelligent Systems has definitely hit a home run with this. Here’s hoping they keep up the good work and get that Switch title to feel just as amazing.