‘Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows Of Valentia’ Review: Going Back To Move Forward

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review
4.2
out of 5

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for the Nintendo 3DS is a remake of a Famicom game originally released in 1992, but you can’t really tell, as developer Intelligent Systems has overhauled the entire game, creating a whole new experience. The epic, two-sided tale of Alm and Celica finally hits the west, and the wait has been worth it. Using some of the updates seen in recent games Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem FatesFire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia presents this 25-year-old story with a fresh polish and amazing strategy-based gameplay — a staple of the franchise.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia tasks players with controlling both Alm, a farm boy with a mysterious lineage, who gets elevated to the leader of a resistance force in the war between kingdoms — and gods, and Celica, his childhood friend who also has a mysterious past, and now has the power of a cleric. These two protagonists drive the story of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, which is an epic swords and sorcery tale that involves warring gods and an evil emperor wanting to rule the entire realm.


Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review

The combat is classic Fire Emblem, as the strategy battle system allows players to utilize a rock, paper, scissors-like strategy to resolve conflict on the battlefield. Where Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia differs is the inclusion of dungeon exploration and grinding, which helps to strengthen the characters in skills and battle performance, and also in the connecting relationships. I loved the addition of explorable dungeons and towns, and the shift in gameplay that it created.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review

Alm and Celica are delightful leaders, and the support characters help to flesh out their stories and motivations. Intimate relationships and even procreating to build your army is left behind here, and that’s okay. Each leader has their own dedicated army, which gives the player choice in how they choose to conquer the map. Players can choose from the classic game play, with its heart-wrenching permanent-death, or casual, where fallen characters rejoin the group after a battle. Nearly all of the dialogue is voice acted, which really helps to suck the player into the story.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia also has full amiibo support, which adds a new level of strategy. There is a two-pack of Alm and Celica that unlocks a new dungeon to explore and allows one character to call the other into battle, but the game also uses other amiibos to conjure up monsters to aid in battle, or if you use a Fire Emblem SSB amiibo, like, say, Roy or Marth, you can call them into battle for a set number of turns. I’ve used this more than I thought I would, mainly because it was there and I could. Using amiibos in new and exciting ways is always a good thing.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review

Graphically, the handheld Nintendo 3DS is more powerful than the Famicom ever was, and the graphical polish makes the character models pop on-screen during battle. On the map screen, the graphics leave much in the 1990s, but the trade off is worth it. And since this is a Fire Emblem game, there will be an epic amount of combat, with most battles taking up to 20-30 minutes, depending on how you play.

The music is sweeping and epic, as it should be, and the voice acting is top notch. I’ve kind of fallen in love with Celica, purely because of her voice actress, and the depth of her half of the story. She will go down as one of my favorite characters in the entirety of the Fire Emblem series.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Review

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a great way for a new audience to play an older game, and the polish, the wholesale upgrades, the addition of dungeon grinding and exploration, and the new amiibo support help make this one of the best games in the series, and a worthy addition to the franchise that has thrilled strategy war gamers for decades. Hopefully, now that Echoes has re-introduced Alm and Celica to the greater Fire Emblem mythos, we will see them more often in other things, like Super Smash Bros. or as DLC for other Fire Emblem games. I, for one, would be very happy to see them again.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is available now for the Nintendo 3DS. This review is based off a copy of the game and Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia amiibos provided by Nintendo.

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