I really don't like the perma-death element of Fire Emblem. Yes, it does make the game more of a challenge but it gives no margin for error. In my opinion only the hardcore can enjoy an experience like that.
Was diggin' the recent Gamespot article about perma-death, but as much as it's easy to romanticize the mechanic, it's more than merely a matter of "because it's more manly." I've plugged in over 120 hours (on all three slots) with Awakening, went back and finished Sacred Stones a few days ago, and I'm now midway through Shadow Dragon (the underappreciated, red-headed stepchild of the Fire Emblem series), while simultaneously playing Radiant Dawn off and on. I've got Fire Emblem on the brain right now. The new game has definitely inspired a personal revival.
But what about this whole "perma-death" thing. First, let me just say, though I didn't use the option, I was glad to see Intelligent Systems add the Casual Mode to Awakening (not its first appearance in the series, by the way). The series has had a bit of trouble gaining traction here in the States, in spite of a very devoted, albeit relatively small, fanbase. But it should be obvious by now, Awakening has really made a dent into the mainstream awareness of this series, I'm certain in no small part due to lowering the barrier of entry.
All that being said, I still believe perma-death is absolutely an essential part of the gameplay because, well, if death isn't a concern, all you have to worry about is getting through a given battle. But with perma-death present, you have to think several battles -- even endgame -- ahead. It's really as simple as that. It's not about being elite or manly or hardcore; it's about a fundamental change in gameplay. With perma-death, Fire Emblem is, in a lot of ways, similar to chess. Without it, it has more in common with any number of other SRPGs on the market.
I love Awakening. It's up there with my favorite FE games. I love the options, the production values, the carefree changes that play into all the trappings that make us love games like Final Fantasy Tactics. But don't underestimate the importance of perma-death in a Fire Emblem game. Play it any way you like, but trust me, it's an integral part of the formula.
I don't really see it as essential. To put it briefly, and simply, the game needs to do a better job at making the cast of characters seem or feel as though it is tragic or the end of someone's world when a character dies. Because when I played with perma-death on, I did not feel any remorse or connection towards the charatcers. But that is because the game treated them as soldiers, and not something more than that; something that REALLY touches majority of the fanbase (I'm a part of the fanbase).
They just need to make the characters feel more important than they are in the game. Then maybe I'll feel more sentimental when one of them dies and appreciate them so much that I don't reset my 3DS lol. Because, as this game stands, it just feels like a game, and it feels like the characters are my weapons to beat this game to the end, rather than people I care deeply about, or people that I can shed a tear for upon death.
Just imo though.
If you're playing Shadow Dragon, you should know that if you want everything the game has to offer, you'll have to kill off most of your characters while still keeping some of the useless ones.
For awakening, I think if you play lunatic, permadeath loses importance because once you lose fredrick everyone dies anyway.
"...it's about a fundamental change in gameplay. With perma-death, Fire Emblem is, in a lot of ways, similar to chess. Without it, it has more in common with any number of other SRPGs on the market."
I could not have said it better myself.
I feel like much of the challenge would be lost if I turn perma-death off. Without it I imagine most any map could simply be face rolled through.
I agree that perma-death is an integral part of Fire Emblem's formula. It's hard to put it on words compared to playing the game so to really understand its concept.
I'm no hardcore FE gamer but I started out with the series that way. I mean, you could really appreciate your characters either as an individual unit or a group to be reckon with.
Is it infuriating to restart a chapter the nth time? Yes. To go on ahead and permanently lose a character? Yes. But on the other hand it is fun to carefully plan out moves with the notion that any of your characters might die the next turn/chapter. I'm not being a sadist but the challenges made the game worthy to play. It's a turn-based strategy game after all.
But still you can feel the excitement of a strategy game even on casual mode. So I think it's a "win-win" situation.
Klepek put it pretty well in the most recent Bombcast. Perma-death gives consequence. And perfection is the only acceptable outcome for most serious players - they'll reset if they mess up and lose a unit or two. With perma-death off, you can fumble your way through the game.
@chrisvandergaag I am one of those players. I can play a single mission and spend an hour+ easy, only to lose someone to a silly mistake against a boss or moving one square to far only to turn off my game and begin the mission again. It's part of why I love Fire Emblem. Crazy hard but still beatable with good time and thought.
@chrisvandergaag I'm actually okay with leaving some characters behind -- it's how I play every Fire Emblem game. Of course, there are those characters you spend a lot of time working on, and well, then it's time to reset. :P
I also think it is essential. Loosing a character becomes a hard consequence, those that can soldier on and not restart the game will feel the weight of that lost character.
But even considering that most people will restart the game. Every choice is still very very much more important with permanent death. Because restarting a map is something to be avoided if possible since some maps are long and have multiple parts and waves, and re-doing what you just did even if it's short isn't desirable. So people will take care in their choices.
What happens when the death isn't permanent? The gameplay changes. It becomes about throw away units to act as lures while other characters do the killing. What if there are two enemy units left in the map and your healer has 2 pts of life left and close to the ennemies? Do you make that character retreat or not even bother since there is probably only one or two turn left in the map? In that case why not make him risk an attack even if he might die to kill one of the remaining units and get that extra xp?
The maps and fights are built with he idea that it is possible to complete them and not loose anyone. The gameplay is finely tuned for this. Now remove this "permanent death" barrier? Even in harder mode it becomes free for all.
@Slash_out Very well-put. Makes me think - the game isn't necessarily worse if you get your dead units back at the end of the battle - it's just a lot different. In your example the player isn't trial-and-erroring or muddling through, it's still pretty tactical (luring, throw-away units, risk-reward analysis)
Your article... wasn't all that persuasive.. you only had one paragraph that even really talked about WHY perma-dreath is good, and the rest was just you gushing over Fire Emblem. I think it's an interesting Mechanic (I guess) but it really adds nothing because almost anyone who loses a character is just going to start the mission over...
@Xx_Kares_xX even so, starting a really long and harrowing mission over is still a pain, especially when you're in one of the towers like in sacred stones, where you have to choose to either continue to the next floor or leave the tower, and restarting the "mission" cancels out all progress on the tower. of course there are some ways around it, but some battles take forever and there's still a bit of a sting restarting them.
This is a funny article, because it has nothing to do with the title 'WHY permanent death is integral to Fire Emblem'.
@serphtenseiWhy perma-death is integral to Fire Emblem: "it's about a fundamental change in gameplay. With perma-death, Fire Emblem is, in a lot of ways, similar to chess. Without it, it has more in common with any number of other SRPGs on the market."
@serphtensei It is like an article that might be entitled 'Why Gun Control Issue is Important' that might then go on to debate the merit of compost usage in growing rhubarb.
The perma death option is mixed in my opinion. On one hand, it makes you play more cautiously so that you don't lose you members and start relying more on teamwork and keeping you group united but it can also be annoying since if you have certain members on the group that you need to stay alive and you just happen to get bad luck and they die, then it starts becoming irritating since obviously you want to keep them alive due to all the time you invested in leveling them up and giving them weapons and such. I use the perma death option but I always restart the level if someone dies since I need them. I can fully understand why someone would use the casual option since they want to remove that tension of making sure that their entire group lives and can allow them to enjoy the game more.
@Drilbit777 I really see no problem with "permadeath on but resetting when someone dies." To me that's the same as "damnit, I failed, time to try again" because I only plan on ending the game with everyone still alive. It's not like I'm just undoing my last turn everytime; I'm redoing the whole level. Turning off perma-death would ruin the difficulty, you could be utterly suicidal and win every map with huge casualties with no consequences. The maps are designed to facilitate caution.
I'd never played a FE game before but just recently picked up a 3ds and after all the great reviews I decided to download the demo and really enjoyed it. After reading about the permadeath in it, I decided to pick it up. I know it'll suck if and when they die in the game, but im determined just to leave it as is when I decide to play it. I picked up a physical copy a few weeks ago but still haven't gotten around to opening it. Working on some other games in my backlog at the moment, but I am excited for whenever I get to play it
@Apocalypse324 LOL. That's the exact same boat I'm in right now. I knew I wasn't going to play FE for a while, but I had to pick it up as soon as I found a copy because that game was so damn hard to find. Good job on that(whoever decided to ship far too few copies). I will finish my 3DS backlog first. I just hope my anticipation for FE doesn't water down the other games. Same goes for Ni No Kuni, got it sitting on the shelf unopened until I get through a couple other games first. I know I am in for a serious treat with both of them.
you don't have to think ahead you just end up resetting until you get through the fight without dying. perma death really is only an issue due to how the series hands you CHEAP DEATHS at the drop of a hat. especially in shadow dragon. random 1hko
@shadowysea07 Yeah, but why would you reset? Because you know you will want those units later in the game.
Never gave the Fire Emblem series a thought before now. Nothing seemed appealing and I didn't really care to read up or know anything about it. The name seemed unappealing, the character models seemed unappealing. I hated the Fire Emblem characters in Super Smash Bros.
But I have been paying attention to this new Awakening game, if only for the reason that the 3DS's library of GOOD games, while growing, is still rather slim considering it's kind of a new system still trying to pave a way for itself and establish itself. Regardless of the amount of people have it, because I have it and still there aren't many games that I want for it. Some, but not like A LOT.
Based on the reviews for this game and the little of the Demo I just started playing today, I can see myself getting into this game. Especially since I had no idea the Fire Emblem games were Strategy games. It's similar to Advanced Wars' gameplay and I love that series.
So once I finish this Demo, my decision should be solidified, which I'm betting will be that I want this game and then I'll be on the hunt for a PHYSICAL copy. For some reason, despite the stories I've heard, I don't anticipate it being difficult to find in the area that I live in. Not that big of a gaming crowd. And especially for games such as this.
Also, I love RPGs and am a sucker for story driven games and this game seems to have that as well. Which is why I won't be playing with Perma-Death. I will not lose my Characters. Perhaps if they didn't matter and there was no story, character development or investment, then yeah, but it seems this game has all of that, so yeah......no.
@powerfulone1987 i think Tom Mcshea said it best in his article, why perma-death is most definitely something you want to play with on, if only just so you can build a much deeper attachment to the little sprites you are guiding on the screen.
but to be a little off-topic, if you haven't gotten into the fire emblem series before, but you find yourself liking Awakening, i implore you to try the previous games in the series, mainly Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame(mainly called just 'Fire Emblem', as it is just brilliant.
I will definitely give perma-death more thought. Is there a link to that article?
And thanks. I will look into that game as well.
Path of Radiance sounds familiar too. Probably from my Gaming Magazine Subscription days. Gosh I miss those days. I actually did more active gaming research and staying up to date on this hobby of mine then than I have in this period of my life with programs like Attack of The Show and X-Play just feeding it to me.
Ot course now I must get more active now that such shows have been cancelled. I had time to read magazines then. I don't now.............sigh....life.
I am now taking notes down on all of these recommendations. Thanks guys. I fear what I have been willingly missing for all of these years.
@powerfulone1987 If you have a Wii or Gamecube lying around, I HIGHLY suggest Path of Radiance, it was my first Fire Emblem game and remains my favorite, and it is in my top 10 games of all time list.
I have never liked losing allies in role-playing games, be it permadeath or them simply leaving the party. The reason being is that you invest time into their development, leveling them up, grinding for cash to equip them with gear, get used to using their wonderful abilities, develop tactics solely around them and then POOF! They're dead! For someone like me, the game doesn't seem as fun. That's one reason I couldn't quite get into the series, that and consumable weapons...
@JustPlainLucas yes the consumable weapons and how hard it is to level up are what bother me that and most of the character types suck compared to others. while i have only played shadow dragon i didn't like how completely unbalanced the characters were.
@shadowysea07 @JustPlainLucas Yeah, though Shadow Dragon does improve some aspects of the original Fire Emblem, it still clings to many of its original mechanics. Though you can reclass units, there's no place to grind. Leveling is slower, and the stat gets when leveling up are incredibly meager when compared to something like Awakening.
I like the idea of permadeath... but it doesn't mean much for me. In ALL the Fire Emblem games, I just restart chapters if ANY of my units die. It bothers me to know that I lost a part of the story and a character I built. My attention to detail and need for perfection cannot allow me to actually play a game of Fire Emblem organically from beginning to end.
"I didn't use the option"
"absolutely an essential part of the gameplay"
"I didn't use the option"
No, sorry! You can't argue like that. If you played the game without the option you can't say it's absolutely an essential part.
I don't doubt it's a nice feature but your argument is fail.
Final Fantasy Tactics is my favorite game of all time but Fire Emblem is my favorite series. I love all of these games so much (but I have to disagree with you on Shadow Dragon, I think it deserves it's level of appreciation) and I tried casual mode on FE:Awakening for funsies and it....wasn't Fire Emblem. It just wasn't fun for me in the slightest. It's good to have options but I'll never use casual mode again.
I think Fire Emblem easily outperforms FF: Tactics. It has managed to give much more meaning to each battle as there is much more at stake. Also, Fire Emblem has less focus on equipment and gear, and gives the player a million little choices in every battle.
I never try this in games like Diablo 3. Cant imagine getting to like level 30+ and then dying permanently.
It really is important if you want any kind of challenge. Fire Emblem is probably the easiest series I've played in the SRPG genre and one of the least balanced (probably not including Fire Emblem 4 and 5) if the games removed it's permanent death feature you would have almost no chance of losing battles even on the hard setting in most of the games.
@Legolas_Katarn Are you saying that FE is easier that FF Tactics A2?
@so_hai In that particular game from what I remember and if Fire Emblem removed permanent death it would pretty much be the FPS equivalent of playing on casual where you could beat the games with only melee attacks. Doesn't really matter which one if easier at that point.
Insta-frost is the best reason as to why we should be developing super AI that can expand or rewrite stories as you play to accommodate for a characters death no matter how important the character was prior.