This Friday marks the North American release of the newest installment of the Fire Emblem series, Shadows of Valentia. It released nearly two months ago in Japan, topping the charts and selling out fast. Shadows of Valentia is actually a remake of the second title of the franchise, Fire Emblem Gaiden, and mixes elements from the original game with more recent versions like Awakening and Fates to bring a fresh approach to the beloved turn-based RPG. Some of the biggest changes include the abolishment of the simple weapons triangle and the inability to play matchmaker and create baby characters.
Gamers fondly remember how the Fire Emblem series began with a blue-haired youth named Marth, traveling on a grand adventure across the world of Archanea. Even if you never played Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, you've probably heard of Marth through Super Smash Bros. Now, 26 years after the birth of the franchise, Shadows of Valentia strives to take you on an epic journey alongside beautifully drawn characters, complete with full voiceovers, with a new (and surprisingly difficult) combat system.
There Are Big Gameplay Differences
One of the most significant changes in Shadows of Valentia is in the combat system. Gone are the days of the rock-paper-scissors weapons triangle. Now, different weapons within the same category (swords, axes, bows) have different strengths and weaknesses. Mages learn spells at certain levels, like Pokémon, and must use their HP to attack.
In addition, for the first time in the main FE series since Gaiden, there will be dungeons so players can acquire loot and grind levels. Perhaps most interesting is the camera angle. It's a 3D, third-person perspective, as opposed to the traditional 2D, top-down view (which is still the main angle in the story campaign quests).
No More Child Breeding
The "date-mate-birth" system has been done away with in Shadows of Valentia. While support conversations still exist, there are no children produced, so players can forget about skill inheritance. For fans who have only played Awakening and Fates, this will definitely a new and different experience.
Some players, however, will be glad to see the awkward child-rearing mechanic has been left out here. Especially in Fates, the children didn't really seem to fit in the story. Also, it was always strange that your main character could have children with the younger generation. Any game with less mating with characters who look 12-16 years old is a step in the right direction for the Fire Emblem franchise.
As Always, There Will Be Beautiful Art And Cut Scenes
Fire Emblem fans won't be disappointed by the beautiful artwork that permeates Shadows of Valentia. Hidari, a well known Japanese illustrator, created all the characters and their clothing designs. Japanese animation studio Khara, best known for their work on the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, was responsible for the gracefully charming cut scenes. As you can see in the trailer above, Shadows of Valentina promises to be more visually engrossing than almost any other game on the market.