Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore review: An RPG experiment that still delivers

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a pop-fuelled kaleidoscope of a game that grabs two very separate entities and smashes them together so unforgivingly, they have no choice but to work together.

Combining a battle system inspired by the Persona forefather series, Shin Megami Tensei, and using RPG mechanics and levelling tools lifted from Fire Emblem, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore emerges from the haze – somehow – very much its own beast.

The whole game seems to have one major goal: be as noisy and colourful as possible. And in the name of all things J-Pop, it succeeds.

Eschewing the apocalyptic theme of the parent SMT franchise and adopting a more optimistic approach, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a great entry point into more hardcore RPG fare, and in its new home on Switch, might find a whole new audience.

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When Itsuki and his ragtag bunch of mates aren't battling demons in extra-dimensional shopping malls, pagodas or photography studios (yes, really), you'll spend time in a Tokyo-inspired overworld.

Like Persona, actions and quests you complete here can aid you in your battles, and exploration of the 'real' world lets you take a slightly bigger bite out of this well-recognised and vibrant world.

To make sure no-one figures out your extra-dimensional affairs to you as you take down powerful, corrupted entities that dominate the entertainment industry, you need some cover.

Enter the Fortuna Entertainment Agency: the company you and your pals are hired by. You basically become demon-fighting superheroes: idols by day, liberators of humanity by night.

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Though there is a lot of jargon to get your head around, the battle system soon becomes pretty easy to read, and the rhythm of the fights is what makes Tokyo Mirage Sessions stand out from the JRPG pack.

Fights themselves are themed as arena gigs, with crowds cheering you on as you blast demons to oblivion with your weapons, magic and songs (again, yes, really).

Each encounter is so stylishly realised that you can't help but smile as Tsubasa backflips into the fray, dressed in Pegasus-themed gear, before Itsuki coolly runs an enemy through with his sword.

Finding the rhythm of the attacks, and matching them to the admittedly catchy beats the game really wants you to pay attention to never gets old – even 50 hours in.

The pacing is affected by the game's insistence on sending you back to previously explored locations, or by hamstringing you with bosses that require a very specific setup to beat.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore – Verdict: 4/5

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

The modern quality of life updates help to mitigate this somewhat. The new Switch port introduces a couple of new dungeons that make levelling up a breeze, and add new costumes for you to equip, too (yes, there's a Persona 5 outfit. But you should all really be gunning for the Shin Megami Tensei IV samurai uniform).

These new QoL updates certainly help break the moments of tedium that hampered the original release back in 2016, but these revisions are still not enough to lift the game into the highest echelons of the genre.

That said, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a captivating, entertaining take on the best bits of Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei and deserves praise for its inventive battle system and unique setting.

The performance, extra content and handheld functionality make this a must for JRPG-loving Switch owners – even ones that owned the game back on Wii U.

THE GOOD

• Creative RPG systems
• Great synergy of Fire Emblem and SMT themes and mechanics
• Nice new port additions

THE BAD

• Autosave would be nice
• Some encounters end up too lengthy/RNG happy

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