Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia - Cipher Companions Pack (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 01.07.2017

Review for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia - Cipher Companions Pack on Nintendo 3DS

The run of DLC content for the latest Fire Emblem game to have reached us, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, comes to a close with its fifth wave: the Cipher Companions Pack. Including two different DLC items offering two characters each, it is named after the Fire Emblem card game, Fire Emblem Cipher, which is unfortunately still exclusive to Japan, to this day. Why is it named after it? Because all characters found in this wave of DLC are original characters that made their debut in said card game. They did not originate in any video game entries in the franchise, despite belonging to the universes introduced in those. This means that, while Japanese players may know them from the card game, they will be completely new and unknown to western players unfamiliar with the source material, which can be both a good thing since they will feel fresh, but may also leave some people perplexed. Cubed3 is here, however, as usual, to give the rundown of every detail that need to be known about them so players of Shadows of Valentia can make their purchase or not in complete serenity.

Naturally, the important information that should determine whether or not purchasing those DLC items is worth it will be whether or not those characters on offer are any good. The "Cipher Legends I" DLC item contains two characters, Emma and Randal, obtainable by playing a short and relatively easy scenario map where both of them are ambushed by soldiers and brigands after Randal got a bit too lucky at a game of dice.

Emma is a level 1 Falcon Knight that comes equipped with a Trainee's Lance, granting her immediate access to the Solo Triangle Attack skill, no less, as well as a +2 bonus to her attack stat from having that weapon equipped. She is from the universe of Fire Emblem Fates and belongs to Hoshido, although she never appeared in said game and was made up for the card game itself life every other character in the game. She starts off with decent stats overall and has average stat growth rates ranging between 40 and 55% each overall except for resistance, though she already has 14 in that stat when she begins, so she's not off to a too bad start there. She's an interesting enough character that is not too dissimilar to Mae in terms of character.

Randal is a level 5 Paladin that is equipped with a Wayward Lance when he is met, granting him the "Heaven or Hell" skill, otherwise known as "Gamble" in other Fire Emblem games that implement it. That skill sacrifices accuracy for an increase in critical hit rate. He, too, starts off with decent stats upon recruitment and has some good stat growth rates, ranging between 45 and 60% where it matters. He will never, ever gain in resistance however and starts off with only 7, making him rather weak to magical damage no matter how well trained. Interestingly, Randal is from the universe of Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, Elibe, which is also the same world found in Fire Emblem: Blazing Swords, the very first one released outside on Japan back on the GBA so western players may be more familiar with the latter.

The "Cipher Legends II" pack includes two women, Yuzu and Shade, who both lost track of Emma and Randal and are actually looking for them. They will however get in trouble themselves, trying to do so, as Shade will become entranced and possessed by some evil force, turning her against Yuzu and whichever army the player chooses to employ for the task. This is perhaps a more interesting mission to accomplish than the other one, considering that in order to make Shade snap out of her hypnosis, her health will need to be brought down as much as possible without actually slaying her, before talking to her and bringing her back to her senses. After she is back to her old self, routing the enemy then becomes the goal and both characters will offer their services after the battle.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia - Cipher Companions Pack on Nintendo 3DS

Yuzu is a level 1 priestess with, again, decent starting stats, although because she lacks a decent spell set and she starts off with a Warrior's Sword in hand, she feels like she would have been better off being made into a physical offensive unit like a mercenary, especially given her stat growth rates. Yuzu has arguably the best stat growth rates of all 4 DLC characters, with 60 in both skill and speed, 55 in attack, 40 in HP and the rest averaging 30, safe for resistance. Aside from her slightly bizarre cast as a priestess, she seems like an interesting enough character. She, too, is a Hoshidian character. Her partner however, Shade, is from Nohr. She shares a small resemblance with Tharja from Fire Emblem Awakening in that dark yet decidedly sexy look. She is a level 3 Saint, which means she will summon Terrors to attack the player while she is entranced. Her starting stats are just OK and she has a decent enough spell set, but her stat growth rates are rather subpar, averaging 40, but never exceeding 45, so she should turn out an OK character but no great in the long term. She is the only character of the bunch to not come already equipped with anything though. But she is still a loveable and interesting character overall.

In fact they all are. All of these characters are well worth recruiting and should make for great additions to any player's army. They are interesting enough with their back story, fully voiced just like any other main character and are just as loveable to boot. The only downside, potentially, is that each only has true support dialogue with its own accompanying character from the same DLC item. Emma will only raise her support level with Randal, and Yuzu with Shade. Interaction with the other main characters is practically non-existent. But other than that, there is nothing to fault these characters on. And because the whole DLC pack is only £4.49/€4.99, it doesn't feel that bad at all in terms of value for money, making this arguably the best value of all DLC packs made available for this game. For those curious however, the maps themselves on which those characters are recruited are nothing original, they are overworld locations that can already be fought on normally outside of the realm of DLC. So the value lies exclusively in the characters themselves, in addition perhaps to the weapons they come equipped with which are indeed very good.

Now, there are four characters in total, but two armies: Alm's and Celica's. It does seem impossible to send all four characters to the same one army, so deciding whoever will get each will be primordial as it doesn't seem possible to change that choice once it is made. Whichever army receives the first two, either those from Cipher Legends I or Cipher Legends II, the other two will automatically join the other army when they're recruited. For example, if Alm already has Emma and Randal recruited and he proceeds to recruit Yuzu and Shade, an extra bit of dialogue will happen between all DLC characters at the end of the battle where the latter two will go their separate way to Celica's army instead. Once the game has been saved after recruiting the first two, the assignment is apparently irreversible lest the player starts the whole game over or keeps backup copies of their save file to experiment first, so some thinking has to be done before taking any final action.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia - Cipher Companions Pack on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Coming relatively cheap and offering interesting new characters to play as, and most of them being good units, too, the Cipher Companions Pack is arguably the best DLC pack to be made available for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. It took a bit longer to come out, but the wait was well worth it, and this ends the onslaught of DLC for this latest Fire Emblem game on a high note. It's always tough to know what kind of value to attribute to any kind of DLC, as the main game has to be thoroughly enjoyed first before anyone should consider purchasing any, but this one is without a doubt the easiest to recommend of all those released, due to its lower price and how good the characters proved to be.

Developer

Intelligent Systems

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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