Fallout: Fire Emblem Awakening

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.

Vector maes hughes - Fullmetal Alchemist

Very famous for dying.

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.

About Bryan Hall

Transplanted from the land of sun and surf to a place filled with pine trees and sweet tea, Bryan Hall is a man who has experienced God's grace. Wanting to influence the digital landscape with the love of Christ, Bryan writes from the junction point of faith, life, and video games. You can read more of his writing at his blog, johnnybgamer.com.
  • This is good digestion. It’s always important to process what we engage with. But I’m not sure I’m getting the “so what?” Like what is your take away from all of this? What would you want from something like this next time around? Do you think that a more linear ending would put you in better spirits? Or maybe one that took all your decisions throughout the game and custom printed something for your style of play? And what does that say about us spiritually?

    Just trying to take the thought a bit further.

    • Bryan Hall

      In truth, in the moment of writing, I was too angry to further process the experience. Games never make me angry like this! The feeling of being cheated was awful.

      A more linear ending would have definitely made me happy. Heck, an ending that incorporated all of my decisions would have made me happier. I did not appreciate the slight of hand at the game’s conclusion.

      I’m not sure what this says about us spiritually. God does not give us two options and then an “oh yeah, by the way”.

      • I don’t know. Videogame endings are such a strange thing. It reminds me of something that Jason Vandenberghe wrote a while back. Dude’s the creative director of stuff like Far Cry 3 and a ton of others. In short, Endings aren’t the most important part of a game: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/195318/Most_players_wont_finish_your_game__and_thats_not_a_bad_thing.php

        • Bryan Hall

          I disagree. The ending was important to me.

          • How come?

          • Bryan Hall

            The ending represents the culmination of mechanics,
            character arcs, and overall story. After spending almost a year playing through Fire Emblem, I had spent far too much time to be gypped by a cheap ending decision. Plain and simple. Ketchup and mustard.