Starting from ‘Fire Emblem’ (Fire Emblem 7) being released back in late 2003, I’ve been a huge fan of the series, it felt deeper than Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea despite the slightly simpler interface and the ability to have deeper levels of characters via the Support system made me appreciate the characters a whole lot more. Over the years the series has brought me into cosplay and I’ve made a lot of great friends from the series, so when the Mobile game was announced I was more than a little hyped.
Fire Emblem Heroes takes the classic turn-based tactical adventure and strips it down to the basics. Each level is made up of a grid with mountains, forests, rivers and grasslands to navigate. Traditional turn-based combat as each unit is allowed certain movement space, heavily armoured units will only manage a single step across the landscape while regular units will manage two steps. Wyverns or Pegasus Knights will be allowed two but over a mountain or river and Horse Riders will be allowed three steps. The main tactical part of the game comes not from the number of steps but the weapon triangle, axes beat lances, lances beat swords and swords beat axes, bows have the ability to shoot over a square while Magic users also gain this advantage. With only a team of four, you can’t simply win with all sword lords.
While the combat feels simple it often feels unfair, as unless you get varied summons including a healer you’ll be penalised. Eventually, enemies will get armoured units and even a fifth further putting the stakes against you. While a simple grind will eventually let you beat the opponent eventually levelling up feels like such a chore you’ll frequently curse the game for being unfair. This is further hampered by a 50 stamina limit, starting off with levels that simply cost a few points of stamina you soon find some cost anywhere from 15-20 points meaning you’ll only be able to play two or three levels every five hours. This wouldn’t be an issue if the levels took longer than a few minutes.
Of course, the most fun of the game is the Gatcha part of it, every time you complete a level or log in per day you’ll receive a summon gem, collect five of these and you’ll be able to recruit a new hero. From Noble Lord Marth to Bodacious Camilla the game is full of heroes from the Fire Emblem history with around 100 characters you can recruit you’ll be sure to find one of your favourites. Although some titles have a lot more representation than others.
The Gatcha summoning is essentially a gamble. Sometimes you’ll be given a fantastic character while other times you’ll be given yet another Thief or another sword user, while this is useful early on as you get further in the game you’ll be wanting something else. I’ve rolled around 15-20 times now and still have yet to get a healer or a decent mage in the game. Meanwhile, I’ve collected Hana and Saizo multiple times.
There’s also the lack of depth to the characters, while its great to see characters from earlier titles to be voiced and Nintendo has done a great job of getting a lot of decent voice actors for the roles, even recording new lines for the Awakening and Fates cast. Unfortunately, without the Supports, each character is barely different to another in the same family and due to a few lucky rolls early on I’d managed to get some of my favourite characters.
Having your favourite characters and the only reward is to roll for more characters ultimately killed much of my desire to keep rolling in the hope of getting the others I want (sorry Serra, Hector) and with the unforgiving amount of stamina required to play each level it holds little incentive for me to play further, while in other games such as Love Live or One Piece Treasure Cruise they enjoy an extensive amount of characters with unique ways to play with each one offering tons of replayability (Half of which is me collecting all of the unique Nico Robin costumes) which Fire Emblem sadly just isn’t hitting.
Fire Emblem Heroes is a fun yet brief title, while it’s nice seeing new artwork for some of your favourite characters the game feels only skin deep, little of the depth found in the main games can be found here and this did little more than make me appreciate those even more. As a free title and as a fan of Fire Emblem, it feels somewhat satisfying to sit down and play every now and again. It’s worth a download but don’t be surprised if you feel that you’ve seen everything after a few days.