I actually finished Fire Emblem: Awakening over a week ago, but for some reason, I couldn’t gather my thoughts for a thorough blog post about the game. The truth is that it’s been strange since finishing FE:A. I don’t really feel like I am done with the game yet. So what if I beat the end boss? There is still so much I want to do! I want to replay the game as a female character (I played as a guy the first time around) and I want to recruit the character I did not manage to recruit (Gaius). I want to try out different pairings and so on and so forth!
But it’s not just gameplay-related reasons that keep me from moving on. I also feel emotionally invested in the characters! I am really surprised by how attached I’ve become to some of them. I am even really invested in a few of the relationships. Especially the central bromance between my avatar and Chrom, haha. Spoilers?
I know I could marry Chrom if I played as a girl. But from everything that I have heard about the Chrom/female avatar support conversations … I prefer this relationship with a male avatar. Where the avatar begs Chrom not to take so many risks, and Chrom explains he needs to be on the frontlines so he can meet new people, awesome people like the avatar! Those were some fantastic support conversations that told you so much about what kind of person Chrom is, how close the two of them are. It also deals head-on with the game’s theme of “ties”, of the emotional connections between the characters. And there is an ominous, tragic edge to it because you know that Chrom will be MURDERED BY YOU … probably … in the future … But it’s true, that is the kind of person that Chrom is, and it’s his idealism and self-sacrificing earnesty that makes him a great leader and all-around awesome dude. You cannot take that away from him.
So that’s what you get with the male avatar. With the female avatar, you get cutesy scenes where they walk in on each other naked? I’m less keen on that, for some reason.
I talked once before about videogames that offered you choices that influenced the story. Fire Emblem: Awakening gives you a choice by the end of the game: You can let Chrom finish off the final boss, Grima, which would merely put him to sleep, ensure peace but only for some generations or som hundreds of years, or you can choose to sacrifice your avatar’s life in killing Grima permanently. With just a tiny chance that maybe the avatar won’t die for sure.
It wasn’t a tough choice at first, you know! It’s not the first time that the main character of a videogame sacrifices their life in the end, and as a videogamer, I prefer clean endings where the threat is definitely put down! Not for a while, but permanently. I still think that it was the right decision to make and it is the better of the endings. But still … I didn’t like seeing all the characters sad. Especially my wife Cordelia, my daughters Morgan and Severa, and my heterosexual lifepartner Chrom. I seriously felt bad for causing pain to these fictional characters! Which is either proof that I am emotional as hell, or that Fire Emblem: Awakening is good. Good at making us care.
I think that the only reason why anybody would consider not to make the sacrifice in the end, is that they have come to care more about the friendships and romances and the happiness of this group of friends, rather than just the big picture of saving the world and distant future generations. And the avatar does come back to life in the end, so it’s still a happy ending. It’s just a happy ending that’s tougher on the characters emotionally.
The truth is that I played both endings and I still don’t know which I really prefer. This is such an interesting example of a “choice in videogames” because for once it’s not a choice between a good ending and a bad ending, it is not a case where it’s very clear which option is the preferable one. Both endings are good in their own way, and it’s a matter of your personal opinion which one you prefer. And it’s not an easy decision, imho.
BTW, I liked this blog post on the issue.
At the moment, I am playing Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies. I am nearing the end of the third case. Bravely Default is lying right next to me, and will be tackled as soon as the final “not guilty” verdict has been declared. :)
… and I am sure that it won’t be long until I replay Fire Emblem: Awakening. :D