There are few games that excel at one simple concept. There’s usually a lot that gets added into a game to obscure the original hook of the whole thing. Nintendo and its properties typically stand out from other games by simply doing this. It’s not to say that you can’t have a great story or graphic fidelity or modern features built into a game published by Nintendo. Rather, all Nintendo games always have this core element to them that acts both as identifier and qualifier.

Fire Emblem Fates is an outstanding strategy role-playing game. It also happens to feature a rich and dynamic story, intelligent level design, and stellar animation. Fire Emblem Fates requires you to make a tough decision after a few chapters into the game’s story. You play as Corrin, raised by the Nohr family. You are amidst a war between the Nohr and Hoshidan families and you quickly learn that you are truly born of Hoshidan blood. There are different story elements revealed that teach you about your history and why you ended up where you did, ones that I’d prefer not to spoil for you here.

The catch to the story is that the pivotal choice you make, to fight for one family or the other, happens within the game but you make the choice before you purchase a copy of the game. Players who purchase Birthright will return to Corrin’s roots with the Hoshidan family and those who choose Conquest remain with the Nohr. The games are entirely separate and unique after the sixth chapter. Each game plays slightly differently and the story and outcome are unique to each title.

Fire Emblem: Awakening was my first experience with the franchise, outside of exposure to its characters in Super Smash Bros. and playing some random bits of previous games out of random curiosity. I was elated when Fire Emblem Fates was more of Awakening with a new backdrop and new characters. For me, I turned off battle animations as the simple sprite animations were charming and carried the weight of homage with them. Better are the game’s anime-styled cutscenes that have a beauty to them.

Playing the game feels like chess with really powerful characters; characters who are likable and who you feel yourself build relationships with. When that moment came early on to make a decision, I had already built a strong enough bond and emotional attachment to characters that I felt a pit in my stomach with anxiety over my decision.

Posted by Joe Dix

Joe is the creator of The Free Cheese. He eats a lot of pizza and takes thousands of pictures of his pugs Oswald and Earl every day. He has a disorder that causes him to believe that he is Batman and his favorite video game is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

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