Review of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows Of Valentia

Tactical games have their own special charm. Unraveling the intricacies of battles and bringing your soldiers home alive gives you an indescribable thrill; it’s food for the mind, similar to the feelings you get from playing chess. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia knows a thing or two about these emotions. Its deep combat, well-developed characters, and excellent storytelling keep the game at a decent level. Some people may not like the differences from other games in the series, but the changes only add points to the game.

Echoes, releasing on May 19th for Nintendo 3DS, is a reimagining of Fire Emblem Gaiden, which was released in 1992 for Famicom. It polishes up the old story and tries to find a balance between the classic, strict design decisions and the accessibility of the new games in the series on 3DS – Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates. And it is precisely this approach to game design that makes the game worthy of attention. Mechanics taken from the original provide tactical depth, leading to protracted battles, and the story and characters are fully revealed thanks to high-quality English voice acting.

Artistic landscapes in Fire Emblem

Attention players, the story of two main characters is presented: a simple guy named Alm from a quiet village and a priestess named Celica. In their childhood, they both lived in the village of Alm, but as a result of tragic events, they were separated. Later, both decided to change the world in their own way: Alm took a high position in the revolutionary army, which aimed to expel the invaders and overthrow the king. Celica went on a pilgrimage to pray to the goddess for peace and harmony. You play as them alternately, observing how the actions of one affect the adventures of the other during the war.

The main focus in Fire Emblem Echoes is tactical battles. Warriors are positioned on square tiles, and you give them instructions in turns. Echoes borrows many mechanics from previous games in the series, which benefits the combat system: archers can shoot from a longer distance, units do not combine into powerful pairs, characters who overexert themselves can experience fatigue, which reduces their maximum health. You need to consider more variables, so there is a lot to think about in local battles, although they can become slightly tiresome after a few hours.

Mysterious imagery in Fire Emblem
Fire Emblem's rich visuals

Only the middle of the game with a rich space for leveling up seems ideal. The player is given magical watches to rewind battles, although even this does not justify the lack of types of combat puzzles.

Fire Emblem Awakening sparkled with energy and enthusiasm. Fierce battles were distinguished by powerful critical attacks and pomp. Echoes slows down, focusing on defense. Units avoid open combat. In battle, it is necessary to take into account the peculiarities of the arena and vulnerability to magic, as well as to use special items like shields. It is not easy to surpass the enemy, and sometimes you have to try hard to defeat a single opponent.

Mysterious artwork
A captivating glimpse

The beginning is difficult: they give us Alma to control when his squad is nothing more than a gang of peasants. It will take a lot of time to turn them into a capable army of archers, knights, mages, and assassins. And in the end, the game will show no mercy, pushing you towards incredibly powerful villains and littering the map with teleporting enemies and summoners that generate endless reinforcements.

Alm and Celica will occasionally descend into ancient ruins and enemy fortresses. These are extensive areas to explore, where the line between movement and battles blurs, resembling dungeons from typical RPGs with treasures, altars, and bosses. Enemies roam the corridors, and attacking them triggers tactical battles. It is important not to forget about the characters’ fatigue; clearing some dungeons may require multiple attempts. There aren’t many of them, but these are the places with the most serious challenges in the game.

Exploring the enigmatic world

As a way to alleviate the tense battles, Echoes tries to entertain the player with various ways of interacting with the world. Villages can be visited, and their exploration is done in the style of visual novels. It is possible to chat with the inhabitants to learn more about the world, take on side quests with decent rewards, or enter a first-person camera mode to search for useful items.

A scenic village

In terms of narrative, Echoes is excellent. As you understood earlier, there is no Russian localization. It is worth noting that this is the first fully voiced game in the series on the 3DS in English. The actors did a great job, bringing life not only to the main characters but also to the random peasants. The story with additional characters and scenes tells of class oppression and court intrigues. A solid script and excellent acting prevent boredom.

Fire Emblem Echoes wants to be both a challenging tactics game and a full-fledged story about love and war. And overall, it succeeds. Often, Echoes seems constrained by two irreconcilable extremes. The battles, though decently executed, become exhausting, and the plot, despite its excellent presentation, cannot boast the scope and romance of previous 3DS installments.

We rarely write about the 3DS, but when we do, it’s truly interesting and engaging games. For example, Bravely Second: End Layer I periodically play it on the road to this day. And Fire Emblem Echoes is somewhat similar to it. Its developers are also not afraid to experiment with gameplay, introduce something new into tired formulas, and take risks, creating a unique, almost exotic entertainment.

* If anyone has the opportunity to get the limited edition, you will find very cool badges in the box.

The alluring box art of Shadows of Valentia
Limited edition treasures
Collectible art in Fire Emblem
Limited edition treasures
Pixel art pins in Fire Emblem
Alm's iconic pin in Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Intelligent Systems
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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