- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Intelligent Systems
- Platform: 3DS
- Release: May 19, 2017
- Price: $39.99
- Average Playtime: 30 Hours
- DLC: Yes
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of the Valentia is the first installment of the "Echoes" series of Fire Emblem games. This new series is dedicated to the remakes of old Fire Emblem games, mainly for those that never were released in the west. Specifically, this game is a remake of the second game in the series, Fire Emblem Gaiden. This game was sold exclusively in Japan and due to it's many changes compared to other Fire Emblem games, was often labeled the black sheep of the series.
Shadows of Valentia is a tactical roleplaying strategy game based off of Fire Emblem Gaiden. This game revolves around the stories of our two protagonists, Alm and Celica, as they journey across the continent of Valentia. The player engages in numerous battles with Alm, Celica, and their allies as they progress through the story. Both protagonists have their own groups that can easily be swapped between while playing. This swapping allows the player to decide what order and how exactly the story unfolds. Players will quickly discover this game is not exactly easy, and will require some well thought out tactics to complete.
Story (Minor Earlygame Spoilers)
Alm and Celica are overall important leaders striving to save all of Valentia. Alm grew up in a small village called Ram Village, where he spent most of his life with his grandfather and friends. Upon Celica's arrival to the village, they became extremely close. This friendship however didn't last long after soldiers discover Celica, which forces her to go into hiding due to her past. The story then jumps ahead several years, where the king of Zofia was killed, and the Rigelian empire has begun an invasion. A resistance force is founded, and is looking for members to help. They seek out Alm's grandfather, Mycen, due to his reputation. However after Mycen's rejection, Alm and his friends from the village volunteer to join in his place, which begins his adventure within the resistance force known as the Deliverance. Celica however, has since been spending her life as a priestess under the protection of Nomah, an old friend of Mycen. After the Rigelian invasion, she begins her journey with her friends to go to the Temple of Mila, to seek out the goddess there for aid and answers as to how this all came to be.
Shadows of Valentia still follows the same turn based combat we know and love from the Fire Emblem franchise. Compared to more recent titles however, many of the elements that gave this franchise its popularity are being removed in favor of the more traditional setups. Mechanics such as pair up, child units, easy difficulty, and phoenix mode have been removed to fit the original style of the game back in 1992. This being said, the game is often much harder than most of the recent Fire Emblem games. Comparing this to the original game, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is almost an exact remake of the original game with only a few minor modifications. Many mechanics of Fire Emblem Gaiden, such as dungeon exploring, have been brought back in this remake. These changes add new ways to play for rookies to the series and excite many of the veterans that have played the original game. The game starts off slow for quite a while, often resulting in your units being overleveled. By midgame, everything is quite balanced and overall enjoyable. Endgame however, has some balancing issues resulting in the player often being underleveled and put into many one sided situations with gimmicks that are often difficult to work around or even understand. Many of the maps are also quite bland due to being mainly filler between the areas with main story dedicated to them. These also occurred in the original game, which is part of the issue of a "true" remake.
Even though this game has many of the flaws it had back in the original game, it's development overall is significantly better than the more bland stories of the newer games. It's quite easy to become lost in the memorable music, lovable characters, and interesting story this game provides. Combining all the great aspects of the story and taking away some points for the flaws this game has continued to have, I'd give this game an 8.2/10. The flaws are there, but most are easily to work around with a bit of time. The story of this game is what truly makes it stand out, and overall makes it an important chapter in the Fire Emblem franchise.