Nothing scratches that strategy RPG itch quite like Fire Emblem, and there aren't too many games out there like it. As a ravenous fan of Intelligent Systems' longtime series, I'm always searching for more games to fill the void while waiting for Fire Emblem's next release. It's a pleasure to report Lost Eidolons is exactly what we need to fill said void; in fact, Ocean Drive Studio's Lost Eidolons is as polished and mechanically engaging as one might expect from a new Fire Emblem game, even.
Lost Eidolons Brings Gritty Fantasy to the SRPG Realm
Lost Eidolons is a sprawling epic with a narrative spanning over 27 chapters. I'm about halfway through the campaign and can see a larger story unfurling as I progress. At first, I wasn't convinced the plot would captivate me, but as with most SRPGs, it takes a bit of time to get the ball rolling. By around Chapter 10, we start to see the darker themes reveal themselves in Lost Eidolons. This isn't necessarily a happy or upbeat tale -- Lost Eidolons is aware that war is a dirty business.
The main story revolves around Eden, an ordinary villager who soon finds himself thrust into the midst of a war involving empires and rebellion. Eden is an unlikely hero and the narrative doesn't shy away from the fact that he's often in over his head, which is a welcome theme. That said, I'm not entirely sold on Eden's character just yet. It seems like a lot of faith is given to him far too soon, and he barely has to do much to prove himself and soon become a prominent player in the world's fate. Perhaps I'm used to the leading characters already being in some role of authority as opposed to gaining power over time, as is the case with Fire Emblem's many lords.
Besides Eden, you're given an eclectic cast of characters, ranging from the bullheaded Francisco to the reliable Robere. The cast of characters is gradually coming together and I'm becoming more intrigued by their stories; rather than being one-trick ponies, each character has hints of complexity. Stories are fleshed out by partaking in camp activities with characters and gaining rapport with them.
Speaking of camp activities, a large part of Lost Eidolons outside of its combat is wandering around your warcamp. It acts similarly to Garreg Mach in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, where you're able to explore a large hub area and interact with allies. You're able to train up allies' skills and do various side quests, though the options aren't as robust as Three Houses. I'm getting used to the camp activities more and more, although I often find myself wanting to just head into the next battle rather than deal with what, at times, feel like meaningless tasks. It remains to be side if my efforts to complete every quest pay off -- thus far, at least, I've received some semi-decent gear to use.
In terms of combat, this is where Lost Eidolons truly excels. You're able to take up to 10 different characters on the battlefield, ranging from warriors and archers to mages. Most maps thus far throw me into a battle where I need to rout the enemy. Sometimes I'm tasked with besieging a fortress, which is especially cool to do. The gates need to be rammed before flooding your forces into a castle. This can put you in a tricky situation when archers are on the ramparts shooting at units from below. Most maps take place within outdoor battlefields, which isn't unlike most SRPGs.
While Lost Eidolons controls and plays like most Fire Emblem games, there are a few key differences. Units have more flexibility and skills to use in battle. Units can equip two different weapon types. I tend to pair up a melee weapon with a bow so I can hit enemies both upfront and at range, and switching in the middle of battle is easily done. Units also unlock skills as they level up their respective classes. Right now, I'm not sure how complex these skills get and I only have one or two for each class.
In terms of flexibility and even sheer fun factor, mages take the cake. There are three different types of magic grimoires used to cast spells: elemental, light, and dark. Light magic mostly heals and buffs allies and dark magic has a larger emphasis on debuffing enemies. Elemental magic uses, as one might expect, the elements like fire, lightning, and such. You're able to pick and choose what spells you'll carry on your mages, and with quite a few different choices, the strategic possibilities are robust.
Robust is a fantastic word to describe Lost Eidolons. Clearly, this is a game made by Fire Emblem fans, and know what components make a fantastic SRPG. I may not have finished the campaign just yet, but I'm certainly satisfied with my experience thus far. Not to mention, I haven't encountered a single bug and the general level of polish seems to be very high. Color me impressed, Lost Eidolons. We'll see how you stick the landing, but I have faith the rest of the game will be as fun as the first half.
TechRaptor previewed Lost Eidolons on Steam with a copy provided by the developer.