Fire Emblem Engage is the first turn based entry in the series since the 2019 release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. With a few years to perfect the turn based, chess like system, the game feels very familiar with a few key changes throughout. Ultimately, however, there is a possibility that the heavy reliance on previous entry characters could alienate new players.
Is this a game that could appeal to all audiences? Or will new players feel like they are missing something substantial? Let’s dive in and take a look.
Fire Emblem Engage Details
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Developers: Intelligent Systems
Genre: Strategy, Role-Playing
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
A Story Worth Exploring
Bringing back characters from past entries isn’t an easy thing to do. How can you have characters that span multiple generations of Fire Emblem all appear in one game? It all ties into the story nicely, actually, which was a pleasant surprise. Instead of shoe-horning these characters into the experience, they feel like they fit, and fan favourites like Marth are sure to make longtime fans smile.
A great evil has once again befallen the world. In an attempt to stop the Fell Dragon, it lies with warriors from four kingdoms to work together and accomplish this world saving goal. By focusing on these 4 kingdoms and the Engage ability used via Emblem Rings, developer Intelligent Systems easily placed old characters into a brand new experience.
Ultimately, the goal is to bring peace to the continent of Elyos. Doing so requires the players to collect the Emblem Rings, a task that is quickly laid out in a story that is deep, yet easy to follow. By collecting these Emblem Rings, players will be able to add Marth’s – and other characters – powers to their own characters, creating unique abilities, attacks, and more. With the help of old allies, peace will once again come to the world.
Tactical combat – what Fire Emblem does best
The various Fire Emblem warriors games over the past few years have been fantastic editions to the franchise. However, Fire Emblem is, and likely always will be, at its best when utilizing a tried and tested tactical combat system. While things can be complex, different difficulty options will allow even novice players a chance in these highly strategic encounters.
As with all Fire Emblem tactical games, you’ll spend as much time in menus setting up your party as you will participating in fights on the battlefield. If that isn’t your cup of tea, the game does give you the option to auto equip various items and weapons to the most appropriate ally. This allows those who want non-stop action to have it, with minimal menu time. While I used this approach early on, I felt a better connection to both the characters and the game when I spent time perfecting the team that was about to head into battle.
For those who do choose the meatier experience, everything is laid out and explained in great detail. It was overwhelming to start – especially since I haven’t touched a tactical Fire Emblem game since reviewing Three Houses back in 2019. Still, with some muscle memory and new learning opportunities, I was creating fantastic teams and great partnerships via Engagements that helped my team shine on the battlefield.
Tried and true tactical combat
Once battles did begin, the tried and true tactical combat took over. The game once again uses the traditional weapons triangle of swords, spears and axes. Other types such as spell tomes, bows, and daggers are weak to physical attacks. Clicking on allies and enemies displayed their movement abilities, attack possibilities, and more. Planning who would go where and when was such a blast. When using special attacks, the camera zooms in to show it off in fascinating detail.
There is a really nice array of characters to use and classes to master. Characters can also be equipped with a variety of weapons, stat boosting items, and more. Creating the perfect team for in the field is just as important as playing out the battles themselves. All of this pre-fight strategic planning will happen in the game’s main hub.
The big change this time around is the Engage system, hence the title. Favourite past characters make appearances in Fire Emblem Engage as additional warriors. Your main character can fuse with these characters for improved stats and unique attacks. As the historical characters are tied to the Emblem Rings, they can be matched with different fighters to create really great combinations.
Don’t Expect the School of Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Unlike Three Houses, where players were able to explore a massive school grounds, the Somniel in Engage is much smaller and more direct. As this game relies a lot less on social encounters, it makes sense to condense the hub area and only put what is necessary.
Still, the Somniel is a charming place to explore, and as you dive deeper into the game, more opportunities will become available to you. It’s a nice hub to take a break from the action, allowing you to check up on your gear and items, perhaps make some improvements, talk with your favourite characters, and more. I think a lot of people will be disappointed that it doesn’t have the grandeur of Three Houses. However, once fans come to terms with this being more of a classic Fire Emblem experience, and less of a social one, that concern should go away.
Social aspects still matter, however, it’s just not as important as in previous games. You can still give gifts to friends, chat over a meal, and more. Strengthening the bonds between characters will help in battle should they be side-by-side in combat.
Nintendo kicks off 2023 on the right foot with Fire Emblem Engage
Unless you absolutely detest tactical turn based games, Fire Emblem Engage is a great title to kick off 2023. There is a ton of gameplay to keep you going until the launch of the brand new Zelda later this year. The story is really strong, and even if you don’t have the nostalgia of past Fire Emblem games, the Engage ability is still really great.
From top to bottom, Fire Emblem Engage is a complete, well implemented package. It’s best not to miss out on this one!
+ Brings back characters from past games
+ Very accessible for new players, despite throwbacks to previous games
+ More focused than Three Houses
– Simplicity in story and gameplay may turn some away
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF FIRE EMBLEM ENGAGE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5