Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a 2020 enhanced Nintendo Switch port of the critically acclaimed Wii U JRPG, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. Developed by Atlus and published by Nintendo the original Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE was announced as a crossover game combining Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei with Nintendo’s Fire Emblem franchise.
If you’ve ever played a Persona game in the past, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore will definitely appeal to you. The premise behind the game is very similar to the Persona franchise with players being able to fight off monsters using Mirages instead of Personas. Mirages are beings that are encountered in an alternate dimension known as the Idolasphere and this is where the crossover with Fire Emblem features most prominently.
Some minor plot spoilers follow so read at your own discretion. The story of the game takes place in modern day Tokyo and opens up with a rather dark cutscene. A little girl named Tsubasa Oribe is left as the sole survivor at a music concert as hundreds of people mysteriously disappear around her. Fast forward 5 years and you take on the role of Itsuki Aoi, a high schooler that is friends with Tsubasa. Tsubasa and Itsuki attend an event where Tsubasa is to audition to become an Idol. Unfortunately for the both of them, the host of the Idol show is possessed by an evil Mirage which ends up plunging everyone into the alternate dimension Idolasphere.
Itsuki and Tsubasa are attacked by dark Mirages in the Idolasphere but the protagonists both possess exceptional inner “Performa” which is used to cleanse the Mirages. The Mirages reveal themselves to be Fire Emblem characters Chrom and Caeda however they have no memories about their past other than their names.
Together with Chrom and Caeda, Itsuki and Tsubasa fight their way through the idolasphere and encounter their mutual friend Touma. Touma explains that he also has a Mirage under his command and is a “Mirage Master”. The trio fight and defeat the possessed host and free themselves from the Idolasphere only to be recruited into Fortuna Entertainment by a woman named Maiko. This is where the real story begins as Fortuna Entertainment is revealed to be a secret organisation tasked with investigating the mysterious Idolaspheres and keeping the evil Mirages at bay.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is broken up into chapters with each chapter focusing on a particular story event. Side stories become available as players level up their party and these focus on each character’s backstories. The game is rather long and players will be able to sink upwards of 50 hours into the game and still have lots of content to get through.
Gameplay in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore relies heavily on turn-based combat and traditional Fire Emblem style weaknesses. Sticking with the theme of Idols and music, players will exploit enemy weaknesses to chain combo attacks known as “Sessions”. Learning how to combo sessions is key to victory and while a lot of battles become trivial later on because of these combos, getting into the system takes a hefty amount of time.
Players will be able to freely explore an overworld where they can speak to NPCs and take on side quests or dive straight into Idolasphere dungeons and fight Mirages. Unfortunately, the game’s dungeons are rather bland and some of the puzzles on offer are lacklustre. The game does make up for this with its fun combat system but running through dungeons is a fairly simple affair that tends to involve some annoying backtracking at times.
As you progress throughout the game, more party members are added and micro-management plays a role as you learn new skills and abilities. Players will have to craft and equip “Carnage Unity” weapons onto their Mirages which need to be used in battles to learn new skills. Once all the skills a particular weapon imparts are learned, you can move on to the next one that you unlock. Another way to learn skills is through “Radiant Unity” which works in a more direct manner. This involves unlocking a magic skill straight away upon meeting specific requirements.
The progression system encourages you to mix things up to learn new skills while playing through the story. There’s a specific location unlocked later in-game that makes levelling up incredibly easy though. Thankfully the game does explicitly tell you that overuse of this location will trivialise battles. It’s therefore best avoided unless you are getting completely destroyed by Mirages in the main story Idolaspheres.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore features a lot of eye-candy in the form of gorgeous menu and user interface design. It oozes a sense of style that Atlus are no strangers to and the game has great character and monster designs throughout. There is a minor aspect of controversy surrounding the game with regards to censorship in the West that needs to be mentioned though.
A particular dungeon that focuses on Japan’s Gravure Modeling Idol culture was removed and a number of in-game costumes were altered to be less revealing. Strangely though, there’s censorship with dark mist obscuring skin on some characters in cutscenes but other characters are left unaltered when they too should have been censored to maintain consistency.
The soundtrack used in the game is exceptionally good thanks to a collaboration with Avex Group. If you’re a fan of J-pop and upbeat catchy Japanese music, you’re in for a treat. There’s also quite a few orchestral themes that feature in the game that really set the tone quite well for the game’s dungeons, overworld and story. All of this comes with the caveat that there is no English dub for the game and even more baffling is the fact that not all the voice lines are subtitled.
For example, in battles when performing attacks or skills, party members or their Mirages will speak in Japanese but there are no English translation subtitles displayed. As an enhanced port, this really should not have been overlooked in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore 4 years after its Wii U release.
Overall, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is an addictive JRPG with a fun turn-based combat system. It has some exceptionally good UI and character design, a great music soundtrack and an enjoyable story that isn’t too convoluted even by JRPG standards. If you’re in the market for a Nintendo Switch JRPG that will keep you busy for hours and hours on end, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore should be on your wishlist.