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Cannon Fodder

Sell me on this game

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Or don't.

I'm thinking about picking this game up but there really isn't much talk about it compared to the other modern FEs. I prefer to run my first playthrough blind and I'm not new to the series so I'd appreciate it if you went into detail, but am not looking for spoilers of any sort. I know what I like and am looking for so if anyone can just give me your general impressions of the game, the good, the bad, and the ugly I'll be thankful. 

Basically, give me your review of the game. Cheers!

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Well... if you see my favorite FE game under my profile pic, you can probably guess where I'm going with this.

Shadows of Valentia is probably the most "traditional" FE game out of the 3DS lineup. It has fantastic presentation (voice acting, music, art, etc.), smooth gameplay (battle animations are absolutely killer), and it's just an overall enjoyable experience. Even without the DLC (which is overpriced anyway if you plan on getting the season pass with it), there's still plenty of content. Its dungeon crawling is also a lot of fun, and a stark contrast from what you'd expect to be doing in a Fire Emblem game, which is pretty refreshing (although running into an enemy will trigger a battle to start, bringing in the standard FE gameplay; not saying that's a bad thing, just figured I'd mention it).

I guess the only big gripes that I can think of that people have with this game is the map design (since it's pretty much 1 to 1 recreations of Gaiden's maps, which were... lackluster, to say the least) and a few of the characters. There also isn't any weapon triangle in this game, so the game is more reliant on comparing stats compared to playing rock-paper-scissors (again, not a bad thing! The weapon triangle wasn't introduced into the series until Genealogy of the Holy War, and SoV tries to be as faithful to Gaiden as possible in terms of its mechanics, so that's why the WT doesn't exist here). This game also has achievements to get, so if you're a completionist, you might be interested in that, but they aren't necessary for anything.

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It's good, combat is based off of using mages to nuke anything that your front-liners can't kill. Everything looks great. And it's a little bit on the easy side, especially if you grind for a little bit.

As far as remakes goes, it's pretty good. Only bad part is that a certain map format gets reused a lot in Alm's part of the game.

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Echoes' presentation is still unmatched in this series. It's the first fully voice acted game and they wrote some a wide range of emotional scenes for the actors to belt out performances. Three Houses may be fully voice acted as well, but they present everything with 3D models emoting at each other like animatronics against a warped png background. Also the most tragic and emotional moments in that game happen completely offscreen and before the game even starts, you're only ever told about them. Echoes doesn't have any bubblegum school nonsense breaking up the narrative - like Leonie's support where she "comedically" berates you for not being more like a person who had just died in the main story just before that conversation unlocks. Sorry to rag on Three Houses, but it's the only other game attempting this same level of presentation, earlier fire emblems can't compete in this area.

I also like the "Phoenix Wright" sections where you're examining an environment. They put in some fun internal monologue for Alm and Celica, and the base conversations with characters are consistently entertaining - definitely make up for the game's short list of supports. That and the dungeon exploration really help with breaking up the pace of actual fire emblem maps. In other games you're either progressing from one map to the next with nothing to vary the pace, or you're heading back to the exact same base, doing the same busywork at hour 30 that you'd be doing at hour 3. 

The Soundtrack and battle animations are my favorite in the series too. I can't really argue why since it's totally subjective, but that's how I feel. And this is the game that invented the turnwheel, so resetting 30-45 minutes of play time is a thing of the past. The turnwheel just makes a lot more sense than Casual mode to me since the player is prompted to correct their mistakes rather than ignore them. I've replayed Pre-Echoes Fire Emblems, and the resets are definitely the worst thing to go back to. It doesn't matter how solid your difficulty curve or level design is when a raw crit or unpredictable ambush spawns invalidate all the player's hard work. 

Edited by Glennstavos

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SoV is certainly different from other modern FEs especially game play wise. Due to it being an extremely faithful remake to Gaiden, it drops a lot of modern conventions like the WT and Pair-Up from Awakening/Fates and features many unique features such as magic costing HP to cast and only being able to have one thing in your inventory at a time rather than having a full inventory like in other games. Also rather than getting to level 10 and using a promotion item like in other games, to class change in SoV, each class has its own benchmark and you promote at statue in dungeons. There is also the introduction of the turnwheel which has actually made it difficult for me to return to older games because resetting was always genuinely one of my least favourite things about playing FE and the turnwheel makes that issue completely moot lol.

While the traditional FE gameplay is certainly not the best in the series due to the maps in SoV famously being very bad, the dungeon crawling aspects and the visual novel like exploration in towns and buildings adds something to it that makes getting through the lackluster maps worth it imo.

Also, the presentation can't not be mentioned. SoV has by far the best presentation in the series par none imo. The 3D battle models are amazing and fluid while also having weight. You can really see how the models evolved from Awakening to Fates and then SoV. SoV is the only FE game where I never turned off animations  on subsequent playthroughs because I love watching them so much. The portrait art is also amazing, Hidari is definitely one of the best artists FE has seen alongside Daisuke Izuka and Senri Kita imo. The voice acting is also stellar with not one bad performance. The music is also some of my favourite, especially the vocal track Heritors of Arcadia. 

The characters are all for the most part entertaining. Some don't get as much as others due to how few supports there are, most only getting 1, maybe 2 support chains if they're lucky. Also they tend to be quite short too so that doesn't help, but regardless they are still good. The story is... okay? It really depend son who you ask and besides the gameplay, I would say the story is the most contentious aspect of the game due to it being again, faithful to a story from the 90s. Despite the additions to the barebones story from Gaiden, it still does feel quite antiquated and as if it were from the 90s, but personally, I don't mind it too much myself, since the characters themselves, fun gameplay and presentation of the game make up for it tenfold. 

There is also DLC, but the majority of it is really not worth it. There is some grinding DLC which is meh cause you can already grind in SoV, some over priced promotions that are super late game and generally unneeded, Cipher cross-over DLC that allows you to unlock four new units but whether or not you care about them is up to you. The only DLC I would definitely recommend spending money on is the Rise of the Deliverance DLC that adds even more to the world building and nets you some nice items. Also there is some free stuff too. 

Overall, would highly recommend trying it out.

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Wouldn't recommend picking up this game.

The gameplay is extremely faithful to the original to a very detrimental degree.  Map Design is a prime example, as Map like these were bad all the way back in 1992, yet the game keeps them exactly the same 20 years later. They also keep their annoying quirks as well, such as certain enemies being summon 2-7 cannon fodder enemies a turn and slow down maps significantly, some enemies able to teleport and just snipe off a player character completely at random, as well as just a bunch of minor things such as a great deal of maps having terrain reducing your unit's movement to 1-2, having to backtrack for promotions and improving weapons, and enemies spawning on the world map randomly.

And a lot of the things they added either really don't add to the game or just very user unfriendly. The Point and Click exploration may add some humorous flavor text from time to time, but there's really no engaging gameplay with it. Dungeons are rather tedious as encounters all play out on the same map that are even more barebones than the map used in the above example. Forging weapons is really beneficial to units, but they never tell you how the weapon is going to improve until you spend the money and there's no way to get it back if you don't like the upgrade.

The characters are worth some praise, but they're simply isn't that many moments with them. You can count the number of characters that have more than 2 support conversations on one hand, which is really disappointing since they are good characters. Some characters don't even really get that much since some character's one support doesn't say a lot about them such as with Slique or Deen.

The story is something I found to be lacking, as the characters aren't really morally challenged and often make frustrating decisions just for the sake of Drama. Add to that the lack of compelling villains and every player character not named Alm or Celica slowly being pushed to the sidelines makes the plot one one of the weakest in the series. Your opinion may differ though.

Overall if you want to experience Echoes, just watch it on Youtube. You not missing out on much if you decide not to play it. But i would agree with the poster above to check out the Rise of the Deliverance. It's the only part of the game I truly enjoyed.

Edited by LoneRecon400

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Thanks for all the informative replies; glad you guys went into detail. Exactly what I was hoping for!

Based off of what you all said I've decided to take the plunge. Hopefully I can weather the maps, if they're really as bad as you say, lonerecon. 

 

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