NOTE: Spoilers ahoy!
I am not happy.
One year, twenty-plus hours later, I have completed Fire Emblem Awakening. I spent hours upon hours fighting for the Halidom of Ylisse. I grew to love the characters just as one would with a good book. Yet, in the final levels of the game, the developers violated the rules they had set up from the beginning.
In most games, especially in JRPGs, you expect a certain level of dramatic tension AND a consistent way to represent it. After a while, you assume the story will direct itself, while you do all the fighting/hard work of progressing the story. In Fire Emblem Awakening’s case, what had been a fairly linear story was suddenly injected with player choice. As I stood on the dragon’s back, the game presented me with two options:
Option A: Sacrifice a main character and rid the land of evil, forever.
Option B: Spare a main character and know that evil will return in a thousand years.
I chose Option B. What happened was that I wasn’t paying attention when the choices were presented to me, and chose without thinking. Big mistake. I ended up sparing a life, thus unleashing evil upon the world in the distant future. If I had killed, evil would have been vanquished. FOREVER. I felt ripped off, to be frank.
Well, that’s not quite it; the situation is a little more complicated. I named the character “Hughes” after the Fullmetal Alchemist character. Coincidentally, Colonel Hughes and Fire Emblem Hughes alike were destined, in some sense, to die regardless of what I did. Hughes came from an evil bloodline, and shouldn’t you always kill the guy who is involved with an evil bloodline? I did something very un-Bryan like by sparing him.
In reality, confusingly enough, the game actually had 3 choices (more, depending):
1. Kill Hughes to prevent the world ending
2. Have Hughes fight against the darkness and not be swallowed by it
3. Have Hughes kill the final monster thus saving himself and the world…for now
3 1/2. Have Chrom (the other character) kill the final monster thus killing Hughes (they were connected) and ridding the world of evil
This is way too complicated, especially when the choice doesn’t seem to matter based on the rest of the game!
Upset with the outcome, I Googled “Fire Emblem Awakening endings”. Not the greatest idea in the world. I found out that I could have chosen Option A AND have spared my character in the process. I feel cheated. Why does this single choice mean so much, and not the rest of the game’s strenuous choices in combat tactics?
Before you say “they foreshadowed it”, point out a specific case. Tell me where it is, and whether or not they hinted at it. At the very least, make sure that the “kill my friend” case doesn’t end up with a magical resurrection. If a game is going to be linear, then let it be linear. Do not give me some sort of cheap arbitrary choice at the last minute. Either tell me the story or let me help craft it.
Fire Emblem Awakening was a great gaming experience. I enjoyed the mix of a tactical RPG with relational elements. I did not enjoy the ending…and I wish I did.