Before I start, I want to link to Easy Mode Players Are the Real Gamers, because it's a fascinating train of thought and I really like it; I will allude to it later.
When a friend gifted me a copy of Fire Emblem: Echoes, I dove into it on Hard mode, figuring that I was seasoned enough that the "Normal" would no longer be a challenge. I've gotten comfortable enough with Awakening to zip through it on Normal with little resistance, right? At least, that's how I remembered it.
I think I remembered wrong.
I was able to manage Acts 1 and 2 of Echoes without feeling frustrated, but even with Casual Mode enabled (i.e., no units actually die), I still had several Game Overs on the ship maps in Act 2 and generally had to learn many, many times from my mistakes, even with a reasonably firm hand on the mechanics, stats (and what they're for), and basic strategies. I had to struggle with Act 3, a lot, but I persisted, because I was still able to achieve victory by adjusting my strategy; I never went out of my way to level grind and raise either army's stats.
Act 4 put a swift end to that. No more than three maps in for either army, I've hit a roadblock so insurmountable that even several hours of grinding has not enabled me to clear it. My units drop like flies as soon as the enemy is upon them, and all I can do is squirm until they finish off the leader. Occasionally I'll have the presence of mind to retreat before an actual Game Over, but by then I've wasted over an hour and most of my team has accrued hardly any experience for their trouble.
|That's a lot of Necrodragons.|
It's at this point that I'd like to just drop the difficulty to Normal-Casual and get on with it, because I want to see the rest of the story and try out some different maps. But I can't - not without starting a new save file and repeating all three Acts, which would take me about 30 hours of playing time.
(I've looked around in some places online, and found that many Fire Emblem fans claimed that Echoes was "easy", even on Hard-Classic mode. It's salt in the wound, I have to say.)
As I type, I'm level grinding again (thank goodness for the auto-battle feature), but I'm debating restarting anyway; I haven't made any progress in the game's story in several months. Guess we'll see.
(Other Fire Emblem titles that I started, got stuck on, and quit playing: The Sacred Stones (can't even clear the first map without a death), Radiant Dawn (somewhere in part 2, I think).)