Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore is a re-release of a Wii U game, developed by Atlus that combines the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and Nintendo’s Fire Emblem franchise. Released in 2016, Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE was well received but wasn’t a huge seller. You can chalk that one up to the Wii U’s minuscule install base. Thankfully, the Switch has no such issue and Atlus and Nintendo are giving fans another chance to play Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore.
If you’re familiar with Shin Megami Tensei or Persona, you’ll be very comfortable with Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore right away. It’s a classic JRPG in the vein of those titles with elements of Fire Emblem sprinkled in.
However, unlike most other RPGs, Japanese or otherwise, Tokyo Mirage Sessions features a strange plot about the entertainment and music industry, otherworldly entities named Mirages and an essence humans exude called Performa.
It’s weird and whacky but it’s also kind of wonderful.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore Review
Beginning five years before the game is set, we watch as a singer and their entire audience vanish. It seems some otherworldly presence is to blame but no one can explain it so Tokyo moves on without giving it too much thought.
Anime logic right?
Five years after this, the game begins and as Itsuki Aoi, players explore Tokyo districts like Shibuya and Harajuku and become embroiled in an interdimensional battle. Beings known as Mirages are abducting humans for the Performa essence that allows people to follow their dreams.
Thankfully the Fortuna Entertainment company, representing singers and entertainers, is well aware of the threat and working to fight back against the Mirages. It’s over-the-top, bonkers stuff but it’s par for the course for this type of game and isn’t really any stranger than anything you’d find in a Persona title.
Itsuki and his friend Tsubasa Oribe are drawn into the Mirages’ dimension and in fighting their way out become allied with the Mirages Chrom and Caeda. That’s right. The Fire Emblem characters in Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore are Mirages, which function exactly as Personas do.
For the most part, in Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore, you’ll be exploring dungeons, fighting enemies and levelling up. It’s the meat of the experience. Luckily, the combat is pretty neat and its design incorporates both Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem.
The framework for the combat is very much based on Atlus’ games. When you initiate combat in the field, you’re taken to a turn-based arena in which you select commands and attempt to defeat the enemy. Like other Atlus RPGs, enemies have strengths and weaknesses and exploiting those allows you to deal much more damage.
What Fire Emblem brings to the table is its Weapon Triangle. Different weapons deal different damage and in turn, some are weaker or stronger when used against other types. It’s a hallmark of the series and it’s nicely implemented in Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore.
Combat takes place ‘in the round’ and functions as a performance. Party members are all on stage together and defeating the enemies is their way of putting on a show.
The Show Must Go On
Part of putting on a show is creating Sessions. These are combat sequences that you can setup be exploiting the enemy’s weakness and having a corresponding skill with another character. For example, a Session skill may be triggered by Sword damage. If you fight an enemy that is weak to Sword damage and use a skill that deals that, you’ll queue up a session and deal extra damage in a combo as your other party members join in.
Creating these Sessions is really rewarding as you’ll need to equip your party with the right gear and use the right attacks at the right time to trigger them. When you do, it’s a great feeling.
When it comes to weapons, you create new ones through a system called Unity. As you unlock certain items, defeat enemies and level up, you’ll be able to craft new weapons. When you equip a new weapon and level it up, you’ll learn new skills and grow stronger. Finding all of the required ingredients to create a weapon may take a while but it’s worth grinding because you’re always trailing the enemies in level and need to deal as much damage as possible.
Outside of dungeons, you can explore Tokyo and complete side-quests and puzzles. These are pretty much just fetch quests but they do break up the combat a little. But it’s only ever a distraction before you head back into the dungeons to get on with the mission at hand.
Unlike Persona, Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore doesn’t restrict your time, nor does it require you to foster bonds with other characters. It’s definitely stripped back in that regard and while I enjoyed the freedom, I did feel as though something was missing.
Visually, even though this was originally a Wii U game, it looks stunning. The artwork, colours and sugary nature of the Japanese pop-culture template means that Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore leaps from the screen. It’s bright and fun and funky. I’d challenge anyway to be grumpy while playing this game.
The same can be said of the audio too. It’s light and poppy which keeps things upbeat and fun.
The re-release includes the DLC that was released for the Wii U version too. This includes the replayable support dungeons that can be used to help level up if you’re struggling.
I like to think of Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore in the same way as Persona 4 Golden. It’s the same game with a few added bells and whistles and it’s playable on the go, which makes it even better.
I don’t have much time for sprawling, intensely long RPGs anymore but I made time for Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore because it’s just that good.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore was reviewed on Switch using a digital copy provided by Nintendo.
Game Title: Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore