With the industry constantly pumping out remakes of old games, Fire Emblem: Echoes stands out as a high quality remake. Not only does it stand out as a remake; the creeping start that has plagued the genre has been replaced by a hard-hitting intro.
Unit design and level design: 2.3/2.5
In a departure from the framework used in Fire Emblem: Fates; Echoes uses different animations and smooth character models during battles. The story sequences are beautifully animated as well. The 3D images are as enjoyable to look at as the 2D images.
The expected large detailed battles that test your tactical prowess are still here. In addition to ones with fewer obstacles for faster random encounters. You’ll encounter plenty of these as you delve in the games dungeons.
There were some faces on the character models that lack detail when the camera zooms in at certain points. It wasn’t as much of a big deal thanks to the 2D cut in art that appears frequently during battles and cut scenes.
Combat and other Gameplay Mechanics: 2.3/2.5
The battle system used is the usual Fire Emblem grid based tactical style. With some unique twists this time that make it the Black sheep of the Fire Emblem family. Even when the original game came out decades ago: the iconic weapons triangle is non-existent. Characters learn skills by equipping certain weapons, and ease of battle comes down more to stats then it does to strategy.
Being able to freely roam and explore dungeons was the real surprise. It made it feel like there was a lot more options beyond going to a map, battle, cut scene repeat. I especially loved the option to grind at my leisure which has only been seen in a few games in the series.
Other than the dungeon exploring, it takes some influence from other popular JRPG’s as well, specifically from the Shin Megami Tensei series with how you interact with NPC’s and examine areas.
The user interface, specifically the item and character organization menu, felt a bit clunky and annoying to use compared to the other games. It took a bit to long to get use to.
Soundtrack and Ambience: 2.2/2.5
I was blown away by the full voice acting and use of iconic sound effects used through most of the games in the series. It made all the characters very engrossing. I was easily absorbed in putting effort into raising a certain stat or getting a critical hit since they would make a comment on it.
Music in here is orchestrated versions of the songs from the NES version and they do a great job of remastering them. Although not that many songs stood out to me until very late game. The music that did stood out however, really set the mood during certain parts of the game.
Story and Aesthetics : 2.2/2.5
Usually the beginning of fire emblem games take a bit before you get to the juicy meat of things. Echoes is a departure from the doldrums of new beginnings. The very first cut scene you see as you start a new game is….Something you’ll definitely have to see for yourself. It sparked a shocked yet intense desire to see how it got to that point. This scene led right to a tutorial battle which also had me on the edge of my seat with how the scenario lead everything. Though with all the “epicness” it still has some parts that slow down a bit. However, they aren’t there long enough to bog it down.
Conclusion: A deep narrative and challenging yet rewarding tactical combat make this remake a must for Fire Emblem newbies and veterans alike.
By Glenn Brooks, the JRPG Guru
Review copy was purchased by Reviewer.