Another thing i really love about Heaven’s Feel compared to the other routes is how Shirou doesnt get any shortcuts or easy upgrades.
In Fate he gets Avalon and Caliburn. By the end of the route Caliburn is basically his default sword instead of kansho and bakuya, and he can trace Avalon on demand, which is basically the most op power in the series. He gets quick power ups by borrowing from Saber’s powers basically.
In UBW, he gets his tracing upgraded super fast by accidentally downloading Archer’s knowledge and experience every time they clash basically, which is A Lot in that route. By the end of the route he’s become able to activate his reality marble like 10 years early thanks to stealing power from his future self.
But in Heaven’s Feel the only quick powerup Shirou gets is the Archer arm, which also literally kills him. Instead of quick and easy shonen powerups we get a narrative of sacrifice, where using this power triggers a slow and agonizing death of Shirou’s mind and body.Theres no Avalon to make his wounds magically vanish and no Archer to steal power from. It’s just Shirou having to make a choice, fully knowing the consequences and trying to make the most of his time before it runs out.
It’s like, whats that one post about writing that says if you want to know what your characters are made of you must break them? HF is like that for Shirou. The odds are stacked against him harder then ever before and there are no easy answers or quick powerups to get him out of it. It also plays into HF’s theme of Shirou choosing to embrace reality over his ideals. He learns about many peoples lives throughout the route (Sakura, Illya, Kirei, Rin) and roots himself firmly in the real world and real people, instead of chasing his fantastical ideals. Which is summed up powerfully in this scene:
So instead of an easy, fantastical solution, he gets a brutal reality he has to cope with. But in the end it earns him a real and simple happiness that he choose for himself, instead of following an empty path someone else left him.