I wanted to give Fire Emblem: Awakening a chance.
After all, I tried XCOM: Enemy Unknown and could not find myself remotely invested in the award-winning game after an hour of play. Maybe turn-based, grid-designed strategy games were just not for me. I even admitted this much on the most recent episode of Wut R U Playn.
But SMYNjas convinced me to give the latest Fire Emblem a try. This was one of their favorite Nintendo franchises. The game was getting amazing reviews. It was one of the best games on the 3DS to date. There were three difficulty levels and a Casual/Classic mode distinction. It was the ideal game to start with for beginners. These are all very compelling reasons to buy the game, so I did so digitally, with a lack of supply in stores at the time of purchase. What was my experience like? Find out after the break!
I was really liking what I was experiencing. The avatar customization was a pleasant surprise, with more options than I expected. The cutscenes looked GORGEOUS. The story had a really strong pacing to its beginning that hooked you in, right in the prologue. The characters were unique, well-designed, and well-written with fantastic localization. The social system completely fascinated me with its complexity. The gameplay was solid and thought out well. Clearly, this is a very, VERY good game that is a must-own in the 3DS library.
But Fire Emblem: Awakening just was not for me. For now, I have stopped playing after completing the fifth chapter. And I find this rather frustrating.
I think part of the issue might be the difficulty levels. When you hear that there are three such levels, would you expect Easy, Normal, Hard? Well, Fire Emblem goes for the jugular with Normal, Hard, and Lunactic. Granted, Fire Emblem is series with a notoriously high difficulty curve. However, when seasoned Fire Emblem veterans in our community can only clear Chapter 1 on Lunatic after a dozen attempts, that is a bit too extreme. For my complete lack of skill and interest in the strategy genre, laugh at me if you want, I need an Easy mode. I want to experience the story. I want to connect with the characters and make them grow with the game’s social dynamics. Learning the gameplay dynamics is one thing, but when I start to struggle with the difficulty in a genre that I am not fond of to begin with, that starts to head toward ‘dealbreaker’ territory.
It still boils down to the conventions of the genre for me. Some have described Fire Emblem as “chess on crack,” but what if the player does not do well with chess to begin with? I have difficulty thinking ahead and moving my pieces into the ideal positions, combined with predicting my opponent’s moves. Some do very well with this type of planned thinking, so Fire Emblem features gameplay they enjoy. I’d rather live in the moment and react instantly, so while I have no problems whatsoever with the RPG genre, the strategy element is a large personal hurdle.
Am I just not “doing it right”? Is Fire Emblem a series where it is necessary to grind so early in the game? Do I have to play the first few chapters a few times, experiencing that story again and again, to make progress past Chapter 6 on Normal? Or is it logical for a genre to be “not for you”?
TLDR: I feel very disheartened that I have hit this kind of wall with Fire Emblem, but I just cannot play strategy games well at all.
Are there any genres or games you have a similar problem with?