A game with multiple perspectives

“Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation,” the third branch of the “Fire Emblem Fates” story, is an excellent union between the best parts of its brethren, “Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright” and “Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest.”

While its download-only status and additional $20 price tag may make it seem like a “true ending” DLC, “Revelation” is just one of three possible stories in the “Fire Emblem Fates” saga. It does not diminish either of the other stories in any way; rather, like the title implies, it reveals even more about them.

Like the other versions of “Fire Emblem Fates,” “Revelation” has the same first five maps, serving as a prologue where players learn about the characters of the Hoshido and Nohr kingdoms, all coming to a climax in a standoff between the two kingdoms’ armies on the great plains of Hoshido.

At this point, in “Birthright,” the player sided with his or her blood relatives in Hoshido against the Nohrian aggressors. In “Conquest,” the player returned to Nohr, siding with the family they’ve known their whole life and seeking to do good within the tyrannical kingdom. In “Revelation,” the player refuses to side with either family and instead takes their own path. Both families declare the player a traitor, disown them and continue fighting each other, prompting the player to flee with their only ally, the mysterious songstress Azura.

With the help of Azura, who is much more in the spotlight of this story than in “Birthright” or “Conquest,” the player discovers the hidden truth behind the war between kingdoms, yet is forbidden from speaking the truth due to a curse. While this plot device may seem a bit contrived, the story quickly recovers with interesting plot twists as it goes on, as well as interactions between characters that range from entertaining to moving as they band together against their common foe.

This is one of the major strengths of “Revelation”—access to all but one of the characters from both “Birthright” and “Conquest.” Not only does this allow for a much larger and more diverse army to take on the player’s foes, but it also allows for more interesting interactions between characters with the support system.

Having every character as an ally can also make for dynamic and organic storytelling. This is what makes “Revelation,” as well as the whole “Fire Emblem” series, feel unique among other strategy games.

The story and cast is capped off by what is undoubtedly the most epic final showdown of the “Fire Emblem Fates” saga. Needless to say, it is a challenging, heart wrenching and cataclysmic event with an enormous payoff, and a very satisfying send off to the tale of the kingdoms of Hoshido and Nohr.

The story goes along with an excellent campaign that strikes a happy medium between the accessibility of “Birthright” and the challenging scenarios in “Conquest.” In one map, the objective is to seize a fort while navigating a dark cave with enemies lurking in shadow. In another, enemies wait in massive snow drifts in a ruined city to ambush the player. Each map feels unique, and once completed, can be replayed with a simple “rout the enemy” objective to gain more experience and gold.

“Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation” is a perfect way to cap off the saga of “Fire Emblem Fates.” It borrows the best aspects from both “Birthright” and “Conquest,” yet is a full-fledged, full-length game in its own right. The story, despite an initial stumble, is ultimately more engrossing than either of its counterparts.

The game’s balance of difficulty and accessibility allows for both veteran players and newcomers to enjoy it without feeling bored or overwhelmed, and the interesting map design will have every player on their toes. Players who enjoyed “Birthright” or “Conquest” will no doubt find a satisfying experience in “Revelation.”

Release: Mar 10, 2016
Console: Nintendo 3DS
Rating: ★★★★★