Winner: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
The Fire Emblem series has seen a surge of popularity in recent years, and that’s largely thanks to the release of Fire Emblem Awakening on the 3DS back in 2012. With Nintendo and Intelligent Systems feeling a little more confident about the series’s future with two successful games under their belt, they decided to do something a little different with Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia.
As a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, the story and content presented here isn’t exactly new, but it has been furnished with a fresh coat of paint that makes it more palatable for the modern audience. And the story holds up well, too. Shadows of Valentia’s story is darker and grittier than anything we’ve seen in Awakening and Fates, and the absence of the popular support system actually makes it easier for players to focus on the character development arcs and the story that Intelligent Systems wants to tell.
The drastically different combat system was also a pleasant surprise, with Shadows of Valentia adopting a stats-based system that makes much more sense than the weapon triangle we saw in Awakening and Fates. Shadows of Valentia doesn’t pull any punches, both in story and in difficulty, and we love it all the more for exactly that.