Maaaaaaaaan fuck dis game. So I start Fire Emblem: Awakening and the game makes me pick between 3 difficulties: normal, hard, and lunatic. So of course I go with lunatic, expecting some challenging gameplay, because, hey, if a game developer puts a difficulty mode in a game it's because it's been thoroughly designed and balanced right? WRONG. Not these fuckers, because that's not what I found here. What I did find was some dogshit.
As everybody already knows, Fire Emblem is a turn-based strategy RPG where you lead your band of dudes against enemy armies in battles while leveling up. Its gimmick is that if one of your dudes die, they're dead for good, taken out of the story, can't use them anymore (or if they're too important you get a straight game over). So basically what that means is that if anybody dies you have to restart the fight. In Awakening you can actually choose to play a mode where death isn't permanent, although I didn't. Not because I think permanent death is cool (I don't even think it's a very good feature), but because I assume that's how the game is supposed to be played, what it's designed around. I don't even think the option to turn it off was even in the previous FEs, though don't quote me on that because Radiant Dawn was fuckin'... six years ago. I can't be expected to remember that far back okay?
So anyway, I start playing and hoooooly shit why is this game so hard. I'm not even joking, this isn't even ridiculous, it's retardculous. Right off the bat every enemy either kills you in 2 hits if you're lucky, or just 1 if it's one of the fast swordsmen who hit twice in a row, or if they hit your cleric, archer or mage. And if they can, they will. And it's not like your own dudes can dish out this sort of damage, aside from the obligatory overleveled Jeigan character, although even he can get one shotted if you're not careful, or killed if too many enemies fight him. Besides, you don't want him hogging all the exp do you? Well TOO BAD, because you got no fuckin' choice. Your normal characters can barely attack SHIT without getting brutally assraped. Not only do you need like 3 of your dudes just to kill 1 enemy, but if you attack someone and he doesn't die, and somehow he didn't kill you right then and there, he WILL kill you when he gets his turn afterwards.
And that's assuming there's only one enemy, which isn't how it works. Let me tell you right now, if 2 enemies can walk to one of your characters (or, as I said, sometimes just 1 enemy is enough) you. Are. Dead. And since death is permanent that means game over, gotta do the whole fight all over again. And that's just two. In reality there are gonna be fucking 6 or 12 enemies humping each other, how do you even approach that with your normal characters? You can't. It's actually impossible. You're forced to use the shit out of the crutch character just to barely scrape by each fight while everybody else runs and cries in the corner like a bitch. And everybody knows that's not sustainable. The rest of your characters barely get any exp because they can't even fight a kitten. And it's not going to get any better, enemies only get higher level and more powerful while your dudes stay small and weak and your resources dwindle.
And even doing THAT it's still fucking ridiculous. I swear to god every fight early on took me hours and like 30 retries just to scrape by without anyone dying. I'm fairly certain that Intelligent Systems never bothered to balance this game. Intelligent Systems? More like Retard Systems. I'm telling you right now, you're gonna need the patience of a fucking Buddha to get through this broken ass bullshit because the game practically turns into a reload fest while praying that you get lucky and the RNG doesn't fuck you in the ass. If I wanted to pray I'd go to fucking church. Fuck you. And what's worse is that you can't even grind in this game to make yourself stronger because there are no random encounters/free battles in FE. Well, that's not entirely true. Every few hours an optional random fight might pop up on the map. But GUESS FUCKING WHAT. The enemies in those are approximately 10 times more retarded than in the normal fights! So retarded that not even your crutch character can do them. I'm talking fuckin' hordes of level 20+ rapists wielding fully forged silver weapons and Rexcaliburs and shit when you're only level 3.
I tried playing a little on hard just to see what the difference is and it's so huge it's comical. Hard is so easy, even at low levels enemies barely damage you, they're all weakass poorfags with iron weapons, a dude can walk right into the middle of a pack of 10 crips and 15 bloods and be fine.
But back to lunatic. So how is it even possible to get through this horse shit? You mean besides praying for lucky die rolls and massive reloading? Well, there are 2 ways and both of them are shitty. First you scrape by through early game using a combination of the crutch character, praying and reloading until you unlock the ability to play on DLC maps. Then you pay those contemptible shits to download their maps so you can grind on them until you're overleveled enough that you're not getting utterly destroyed by every enemy. The other is to bench ALL of your characters and only play with one, so that he can hog all the exp and become overleveled enough to be able to shrug off enemies' bullshit. Maybe pick a map with tight bottlenecks and block the path with your crutch character while your 1-man army character sits back and chips at them and gets all that exp, then once he can stand on his own feet it's smooth sailing from there because he'll just kill everything and become even more overleveled by taking all the exp.
Which brings me to the huge problem with Fire Emblem, and it's not even a problem with difficulty or balance but something much more fundamental. It's a problem of design: the fact that using 1 character is always better than using several. The reason for this is because of the way the game works. Firstly, because exp is awarded individually to the character who fought and killed the enemy instead of globally, this makes it possible to overlevel that one character. Secondly, because of the exceedingly simple way that stats work in this game, having a character's stats be moderately higher than the enemies' gives an enormous advantage. Here's how it works: (Attacker's STR + the weapon's MT) - victim's DEF = damage you'll take. So if the enemy has 9 STR and is using a weapon with 5 MT and you have, say, 20 DEF, you will take literally no damage. And all those enemies you're killing are giving you exp and making you have even higher DEF so that future enemies won't be able to hurt you either. Why distribute the exp and have 5 lower level guys with, say, 8 DEF, all of whom CAN be hurt when you can have a 20 DEF invincible rapist? Do you see the problem?
But I'm not done. Thirdly, because a unit who is attacked always gets to attack back in retaliation, that is to say, isn't limited to only attacking during his turn, this means that if you send this one overleveled guy into the middle of an army, they will all attack him and die one by one, just impaling themselves on his unstoppably overleveled dick. Fourthly, because of Fire Emblem's permanent death gimmick, if just ONE character dies, that's it. You have to do the fight all over again. Which means that when a unit dies, even if you're using 10 others, it's EXACTLY THE SAME as if he had been alone. Every enemy, I repeat, every single enemy will always attack your weakest party member until they kill them. The result of this coupled with the permanent death gimmick is that you're only ever as strong as your weakest party member. Because enemies will just ignore everybody else and go for the weakest link, and once that guy is dead, it's game over, doesn't matter if your other characters are stronger. So what happens is that having more units in your army doesn't make you stronger, it actually makes you WEAKER. Using only 1 unit is the optimal way to play and this is anathema to a strategy game. That means it ain't fun, yo.
So let's say you do either of these things and work your way through lunatic. Well I got news for you. Halfway through the game you're gonna get fucked in the face again for a couple of reasons. Firstly enemies make a power jump so big that even if you had grinded your dudes enough to not get utterly destroyed before, at this point enemies are so strong that you're practically forced to go with only 1 unit, because the alternative is just too much grinding and fuck that noise. But then you get fucked again, because it turns out that at some point along the line you're going to max out your stats, and once that happens you're going to stop getting any stronger, while your enemies will. Soon, every enemy has maxed out stats too and lemme tell you, it doesn't matter how maxed your shit is if there are 30 fuckers gangbanging you who also happen to be maxed out. You're going to die.
So what's the solution? The solution is to be a Sorcerer using the Nosferatu spell which heals for half the damage dealt. That's the only way to survive. But once you do that you can literally autopilot every battle from then on. Just walk into the middle of the map and let the entire enemy army impale themselves on you. Needless to say, the gameplay becomes soooo boring at this point. And even moreso due to the fact that you're not even gaining exp anymore at this point. Thank god for the skip button.
That is, until the final boss, who happens to be so cheap that a normal Nosferatu does 0 damage to him and even forged ones only do 1-5 damage, and he's got infinitely respawning fuckers healing him every turn and routinely does more than half max health in one hit. And I don't even mean that in a bad way because at least that fight requires more input and effort than all the trivial shit before it, but it's too little too late.
Since I'm such a nice guy though, I'll give the game credit for having good art and fun characters. The support system where you can build relationships between characters by having them fight together is pretty cool and it's probably more fun to pair up characters and build their relationships than just straight up winning battles. Hell, this whole pairing business is probably more fun than the actual gameplay. As you build them up, their support rank goes from C to B, to A, to S and in each rank you get an event between those two characters. The S rank is only available between characters of opposite sex and the event is basically the marriage proposal. Y'know, 'cause you can't marry if you're the same sex, that would just be silly.
What's really cool is that you have quite a large number of possible combinations, especially with the main character who can be paired up with literally every single character, so that's a lot of possible events. Even better, you can even make your main character female, so it wouldn't surprise me if you could marry any of the dudes in the game as well. That'd almost be enough to tempt me into replaying the game, if the gameplay didn't turn into such a drag. Same deal with everyone else, most people can be paired with most others. However, while you can advance the relationships between the handful of units you use the most very fast and easily (probably too fast, to be honest. You can easily be married before you even meet a fourth of the game's cast), when it comes to the rest of the characters that you don't use, the only way to get their events is through a whole shitload of boringass support grinding. And I'm sure as shit not doing more of that.
Anyway this game isn't terrible and it even has moments where you think the gameplay could work out to something good, but ultimately iffy design keeps it from that.
Final Verdict: C
Final Playtime: 76 hours