Fire Emblem Engage review
Story And Setting
Performance And Visuals
Fire Emblem Engage is an inoffensive and solid tactical strategy game. While it does not reinvent the genre, it introduces a gameplay loop that is extremely addictive and rewarding once you get the hang of it.
- Developers: Intelligent Systems
- Publishers: Nintendo
- Release Date: January 20, 2023
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Predecessor: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- Emphasis On Strategy-Centric Combat
- Beloved Heroes From Previous Titles
- Eye-Catching Animations And Character Models
- Amazing Soundtrack
- Generic Narrative
- Lack Of Player Choice
- Not Newcomer Friendly
In our Fire Emblem Engage review, we will be talking about how developer Intelligent Systems have developed yet another solid entry in the long-running franchise. This new title features some of the most iconic characters from the previous titles, and it overall has an extremely fun combat system with more depth than its predecessors while also having a simpler narrative.
If you are a returning player to the franchise and want to know if the game is worth the price, then look no further. Our article will help you decide whether or not the title is worth your time and money.
Story And Setting
Engage features one of the more interesting settings that we have seen in a Fire Emblem game. The story is set on the continent of Elyos where players step into the shoes of Alear, the child of the Divine Dragon. And in classic fashion, it is your destiny to fight against, and save the world from, the evil Fell Dragon.
The story follows a classic JRPG template of the protagonist traveling around the world and visiting various locations while fighting against evil forces. Compared to the previous entry in the franchise, The Three Houses, where the different factions are fighting each other, the story of Engage is not something that is new or innovative at all.
Rather, the game chooses to go with a more textbook approach. That isn’t to say that this a bad thing, but only that it’s slightly underwhelming and unambitious when one thinks about some previous entries in the series. What makes the setting truly interesting is that you are able to play as the protagonists of previous games through the utilization of the ring system.
These characters include beloved protagonists like Marth, Byleth, and Sigurd, while also having some lesser-known protagonists from titles that never got released outside of Japan. We will discuss more about this system and its impact on gameplay in the next section of our Fire Emblem Engage review.
With that being said, the main story is fairly straightforward with a lack of player choices. As you travel around Elyos, you will meet a plethora of characters that are mainly introduced through cutscenes. And since there is a huge cast of fighters, only the central ones are able to receive actual character development in the main story, while the others are relegated to optional cutscenes.
The gameplay in Fire Emblem Engage follows the exact same tactics-based battle system that we know and love, except it’s also some of the best we have ever seen from the franchise. The series has always had the weapon triangle which dictated the advantage and disadvantages in a battle, but this time there is an additional factor as well. When you attack an enemy while having an advantage over them, they will lose their ability to counterattack for that turn. This is coined as the ‘Break’ effect.
This makes it so that having the right weapon type is extremely important in a battle, and it goes from being a suggestion to a necessity. Keep in mind that this also applies to you and your units, which makes the game much more strategy centric. The Break effect allows for a diverse array of strategies, and having the right setup could even lead to you winning without ever being touched.
As mentioned earlier, the Engage system also lets you play as the protagonists of previous titles. By using the Emblem Rings and equipping them, players are able to transform certain units to different heroes for three turns, depending on the Emblem Ring that they equip. This grants them new abilities, as well as access to a very powerful attack that they can only use once. These abilities range from changing the layout of the map to wiping out enemies with powerful blows.
There are a total of 12 Emblem Rings in the game, and each of them is associated with a hero. The different units in your team benefit from different Emblem Rings depending on their stats, and the game encourages you to try out different combinations in order to see which strategy suits you best. The ability to Engage can shift the tide of the battle, and knowing when and who to Engage will definitely be the key to victory in most battles.
In order to fully utilize the Rings, players need to progress to certain bond levels with the heroes so that they can gain access to all of their skills. This can be done by talking to the Emblem Heroes who are present at Somniel. Once you have completed the bond conversations, you can equip the various skills you gained and test them out in battle. You can also speed up the process of leveling up bonds with Bond Fragments.
The overall combat in the game is balanced very well and players have the option of choosing what they want to go with. If you want a more streamlined experience with a slight amount of challenge, then normal is the way to go. But if you are someone who wants to experience the tactical battle system of the game to the fullest, then there are Hard and Maddening options, which require you to think thoroughly about each choice you make. A single move can be the difference between life and death in these modes, as they are very unforgiving.
The Rewind Mechanic helps to alleviate the difficulty a bit by granting you the ability to reverse time during combat. If you picked the Normal option, you will have access to unlimited rewinds, but in the other two difficulty options, you will be restricted to only 10 rewinds, making the game much more challenging.
The systems and mechanics might be overwhelming for newcomers to handle, and that is because the game is centered around the Engage mechanic which can be a bit tricky to grasp fully. You need to spend ample time experimenting with various Rings to see which is the best team for your preferred playstyles and strategies. This can take some time and might not be ideal for players who are completely new to the franchise.
But once you understand what everything does, combat starts to flow like butter and it is one of the most gratifying turn-based games that I have ever played. The game rewards you for understanding its mechanics and when you have a complete team that utilizes all 12 Emblem Rings, fights will start to feel much more fun.
The game also features some co-op and PvP modes, which can be accessed at Somniel at the Tower of Trials. The Relay Trials are an interesting way of using co-op in a turn-based game as after a set number of turns, the game will switch control over to another player, and players will have to cooperate and come up with a collective strategy in order to win against the AI. After successfully completing a Relay Trial, all participants will be granted rewards.
The Outrealm Trials allow players to compete against each other. Players can also create maps of their own, giving them complete freedom of placing obstacles and mounted weapons. The maps can also be accessed by other players to compete. This sounds good in theory but there is no balancing in place as of yet and you or your opponent could be over-leveled for the other, but the game does not seem to care about that. Hopefully, this is fixed in a future patch, where some sort of matchmaking mechanic is introduced.
All in all, the gameplay is a step up from the previous titles, and the title integrates its premise into the compelling Engage mechanic. It rewards strategic plays and rewards those who understand how to fully make use of its mechanics.
Visuals And Performance
When it comes to visuals, Fire Emblem Engage is a clear improvement over its predecessors. The character models are much more refined and feel more detailed, and in addition to that, the battlefields are also crafted to perfection with a lot of details that bring them to life.
It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the design of the game. Each character has tiny details in their model that makes them feel more believable, and things like trinkets and accessories help to accentuate them further. The animations are nothing to scoff at either, as this game truly exhibits that the Switch still has a lot of life left in it.
This section is incomplete without mentioning the wonderful soundtrack of the game. The battle soundtracks complement the combat and help you immerse into the world of the game, and there are also some somber tracks that play during emotional parts of the narrative which offer a good contrast to the heavy orchestral battle scores.
When it comes to performance, the game runs without any hitch on the Nintendo Switch. There were no bugs during my playthrough of the game.
Fire Emblem Engage is an inoffensive and solid tactical strategy game. While it does not reinvent the genre, it introduces a gameplay loop that is extremely addictive and rewarding once you get the hang of it. While the narrative isn’t at the same level as Three Houses, where the focus was on character development, it serves its purpose and helps you stay engaged.
With that being said, the gameplay is definitely the saving grace of this title. It is a must-play for fans of the franchise as it also features all of the series’ beloved protagonists. For newer players, it may be a bit confusing to be thrown into the mix with so many characters, but once you get past that point, Fire Emblem Engage will keep you occupied till the end.
That has been our Fire Emblem Engage Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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