Some RPG developers have a special case of roleplaying games where they create multiple versions of essentially the same games, Nintendo’s Pokémon series being among them, given the varying incarnations for each of its generations. Other franchises have done similar things, for instance latter installments of Capcom’s Mega Man Battle Network franchise and Shin Megami Tensei’s DemiKids series. Among the latest RPG pantheons to adopt this practice is Fire Emblem, which has three distinct versions of the same title, Birthright, Revelations, and the incarnation this review covers, Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, which promises an experience on par with older, more grueling entries of its series, although even casual gamers can enjoy it.
Upon commencing a new game, the player has two different kinds of difficulty options from which to choose, one determining the strength of enemies, and the other determining the fates of the player’s characters upon death. Classic mode makes it so that characters who die in battle are gone permanently, casual mode resurrects them after battles if they die, and the new setting, phoenix mode, revives fallen characters on the same square on which they died following the enemy’s turn session, which consequentially makes it impossible most of the time to get a Game Over unless the player fails to fulfill a battle’s special objective, should any exist.
A few battles into the game, the player gets a customizable base where they can perform functions such as buying units equipment and engaging in support conversations to build relationships between characters that affect how they participate in combat when next to one another on the battlefield. Mechanically, Conquest is similar to its predecessors, with the weapon triangle still existing, weapons except for healing staves no longer having durability and ultimate expiration. Another feature fortunately inherited from past games includes the ability to skip battle animations and enemy turn sequences, which can really shave off superfluous playtime.
When characters reach level ten, the player can promote them to an upper class, with occasional variations of jobs, although promotion medals are finite, as is money, and players can’t engage in special maps simply for the sake of obtaining extra experience for their characters if they’re having trouble with the main game, which can somewhat make Conquest daunting to play on higher difficulty settings other than Normal and Phoenix. Furthermore, while the auto option can really speed up battles, the player’s characters won’t necessarily fulfill whatever special objectives fights may contain, such as having allies escape from the battlefield. Even so, the adjustable difficulty definitely makes the game a treat for veterans and newcomers alike.
Conquest has a linear structure that makes it virtually impossible to get lost and figure out what exactly to do next in the main storyline, and the player has convenient options to unequip every character and equip the best gear for just those allies they choose to participate in a battle. The only real hangup is that when shopping for new gear, the player can’t tell whether a prospective item is better than what a character has equipped.
This installment of Fire Emblem Fates tells a general enjoyable narrative, with the support conversations at the player’s base really adding depth to the characters, alongside the ability for the protagonist to marry the woman with whom he has the strongest relationship, even have a child that may participate in battle alongside their parents. As with its predecessors, furthermore, and akin to titles such as the Suikoden games, the ending credits rewards players with the fates of all living characters, truly making Conquest a rewarding experience.
The localization definitely helps the game and is virtually spotless, although the simple voice clips that accompany traditional textual cutscenes don’t always match with the dialogue, and there seems no reason why anyone would find it natural for a character to shout things like “Unquenchable bloodlust!” when participating in combat.
The aforementioned voice acting further aids Conquest, and the musical score continues to be a highlight of the franchise in this entry, although there are occasional silent points.
The three-dimensional visuals of many cutscenes look nice, with plenty of excellent character designs and occasional celshaded animated FMVs that are simply gorgeous. Even the sprites on battlefields have believable proportions, although the decision to have full-fledged character portraits during scenes where the 3-D models appear is slightly questionable, alongside the typical imperfection of full-blown visuals with occasional pixilated texturing of scenery.
Finally, with the ability to skip battle animations, beating the game can take less than a day, and the adjustable difficulty adds plentiful replayability.
Overall, Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is another feature in the cap of Nintendo’s legendary tactical RPG series, given the continuation of trends from recent predecessors like Awakening such as the optional nature of permanent character death, alongside new features such as the phoenix mode that definitely makes it a draw for newcomers to the series. The game is pretty much solid all-around, given aspects such as its brilliant tactical gameplay, tight control, excellent storyline and localization, superb sound, and nice visuals, and definitely warrants a playthrough from newcomers to the pantheon and veterans alike, given its pacification of both gaming factions.
+Excellent tactical gameplay geared towards newcomers and veterans alike.
+Nice visuals with occasional pretty cutscenes.
+Plentiful lasting appeal.
-Can be daunting to play on higher difficulty levels.
The Bottom Line:
A great game for newcomers and veterans alike.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Playing Time: Less than a day