Despite poor sales, Nintendo Wii U had a surprisingly good number of games. This is why players are so welcoming to the Nintendo Switch ports. For many, this is their first real chance to experience a number of amazing experiences. The downside to this is, there will always be games stuck in the past and while that number continues to dwindle, many assumed that would hold true for one of the most unique experiences, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Now that Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is giving more players a chance to experience it, does the experience hold up or was it perhaps better left as an exclusive afterall?
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore tells a very interesting story. It largely follows Tsubasa, a young girl who wants to be an idol in a world that could use some hope. With hostile forces known as Mirage’s threatening to take over and plenty of people falling victim, you’re tasked with dispelling this threat, achieving your dream and ultimately improving a number of people’s lives.
This is a real general overview, but the long and short of this story is told through small interactions and side stories. While you ultimately play as Itsuki, who functions as more of a support role to a number of characters, you learn things through character interactions, optional text messages, associated side quests and paying attention to those around you. Where it starts to stand out isn’t the, at times, overly optimistic story where singing and positivity can make a difference but the overall sense of style.
Considering this is developed by Atlus and was designed as something of a crossover between Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei, it’s weird, flashy, colorful and all around interesting. Like most RPGs, you start by exploring locations and enemies will appear on the map. Walking into them will start a battle, though certain enemies can start off with an advantage, just like you can attack hostile forces for an edge.
Fights follow standard turn based rules. Everyone gets a turn, there are normal and special attacks, instead of attacking you can defend or use an item and based off the outcome you’ll either win or lose. Things get a bit deeper by Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore making it perfectly clear, after attempting, which attacks are good or bad against any given foe. Certain attacks will result in an ally doing a follow up, though keep in mind hostile forces get the same advantage.
For better or worse, this can make things a bit rough for newcomers. Here you’ll see multiple enemies rely on buffs or debuffs and other mechanics that typically exist but are commonly irrelevant. This can be somewhat mitigated by simply leveling or finding ways to progress, though it only goes so far as a wipe will result in progress loss.
Progression is a bit roundabout in that you need to constantly craft new weapons and abilities to stand a chance of surviving. How much time you devote to this will determine how far you get and can have a substantial impact on progression. The same is true for buying supplies and other things. Thankfully, you can save whenever and there are lower difficulties if you find yourself overwhelmed or just want to take it easy.
In addition to engaging combat, there are a good number of puzzles to solve. None of these are overly intensive, most are more tedious than anything else, but they rely on you paying attention to the world and figuring out what is being asked. If nothing else, they help make levels more than walking landscapes with enemies that may or may not overwhelm you.
Where Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore really starts to shine is how all this comes together on Switch. Like all portable consoles, the tedious and longer aspects make it the perfect pick up and play title. Instead of knowing I need to grind a specific spot for a material or experience for a skill, money and/or experience for a couple hours, I can mindlessly play on the train, waiting for my plane or in-between shifts. That being said, it doesn’t make these spots particularly great.
Similar to Persona, there is a lot of micromanaging. You need to figure out what needs to be done, go to places that could be streamlined, spend a good amount of time doing needless tasks like looking at your digital phone and more to really get the full experience. Whether this is important to you will depend on your playstyle, so certainly keep that in mind.
But, if you can get over the shortcomings, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a pretty game to look at. Characters are extremely expressive, animated scenes are a lot of fun to watch and the musical numbers go a long way. It fully commits to the concept and it shows. Even the battle arenas have a good number of things going around that it’s far more of an experience than a static battle like a good number of games settle on.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore Verdict
Similar to the original Wii U version, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore remains an experience worth playing. It might not appeal to everyone but if you can get past the idol elements and some of the rough parts, it’s a challenging RPG that has plenty of style and charm. Enough to warrant playing and certainly enough to keep most players invested in the long haul.
[Editor’s Note: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore was reviewed on Switch platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]