Fire Emblem Engage features a brand new protagonist in the form of Alear, a royal “Divine Dragon” who awakens from a thousand year sleep at the start of the game. In a recent interview with Nintendo, the game’s developers explained what makes Alear different from other protagonists in the series. They wanted to make Alear less outwardly heroic, in order to make the game more relatable for modern players. Intelligent Systems’ Tsutomu Tei explains below:
“When a protagonist is a royal, they are often associated with bravery, or thought to have a sense of mission to fight against fate and challenges, and I believe those are the traits that people generally associate with heroes. However, I thought such heroes are unlikely to resonate with people today. Let’s say someone tells you one day, out of nowhere, that your mission is to save the world. My guess is that your response wouldn’t be like, “OK! I’ll do my best…”So, at the early stage of development, we had many moments where Alear fears the enemies and says unheroic things.”
A Fire Emblem hero who’s a little more on the cowardly side certainly seems like an interesting shakeup for the franchise. However, it sounds like Nintendo wasn’t crazy about this direction. They apparently stepped in and asked the team to dial his personality back a little bit.
Tei: Well… we overdid it, and Nintendo pointed it out to us. (Laughs)
Kenta Nakanishi: We were worried that players would give up on the protagonist before they could get emotionally attached to them. (Laughs)
You thought Alear was being too vulnerable?
Nakanishi: Yes… (Laughs)
Tei: So, we decided to keep a good balance. We kept Alear’s fragile side in the beginning but showed them gradually growing braver. The protagonist – in other words the actual player of the game – embarking on a journey is a classic storyline of a Fire Emblem title, but we knew we wanted to create a story that matches the modern world and made some adjustments.
There’s certainly a balance to be struck between a character being cowardly and heroic, especially when it comes to a fantasy game about warriors and epic battles. While the idea of a more relatable hero is intriguing, going too far in that direction could result in them being unlikeable. It sounds like they found a middle ground to help align the player’s journey with that of Alear. We’ll see how it all turns out when Fire Emblem Engage releases on January 20th. Plus, stay tuned for Part 2 of this interview, which should be available January 18th.