The second major release of a Fire Emblem game on the Nintendo Switch comes in the form of Fire Emblem Engage, which has taken inspiration from Fire Emblem: Heroes with the premise of calling in heroes from the past games through Emblem Rings, the key mechanic of the game. While the actual gameplay is some of the franchise’s best, the writing feels awkward, unnatural, and made to be shared on social media. Look to the future as the past supports you; let’s “engage” with the latest entry into the Fire Emblem series.
Some of the best tactical RPG mechanics from the Fire Emblem franchise have come together in Engage; you have the wind back mechanic of Three Houses, which saves the classic, hard difficulty players from resetting the map everytime someone dies. This entry brings back the Weapon Triangle as well, while also expanding on it to prevent counter attacks and giving brawler attacks a strength against casters and archers. In addition, each map feels like they bring their own challenges with several paths to take as you revisit them for the extra battles.
While it isn't the first time a mainline Fire Emblem game has toyed with bringing back previous heroes, Engage is the first to tie it into the story whilst clearly taking inspiration from Fire Emblem: Heroes. The mechanic brings the main characters from their respective stories to life as spirits housed in a ring that the holder can merge their power with to become stronger. Additional characters from the heroes respective games can also be found through a type of gacha system using an in-game currency earned through gameplay.
One of the newer mechanics is building up your reputation with the individual countries of the continent, all through the power of investing. Pour gold into these countries and you start to see better rewards, more animals to recruit, and increasing the chance of gold and silver skirmishes that drop more gold. However, it can be difficult to fully upgrade each country in a single playthrough without grinding out skirmishes as the total amount for all four countries is a whopping 360K gold.
- Well crafted tactics gameplay
- Reimagined angle for the franchise
- Reputation system is fun
Fire Emblem Engage has some of the most unnatural sounding support conversations that look like they’d been written just to capture funny moments instead of developing the characters’ personalities and their bonds. The player character talks about how much they care about the recruits, however that is never really reflected in the way they converse in support conversations, which has always been how characters are primarily developed as individuals. The conversations are funny but feel more like moments specifically designed for sharing on social media as a way to promote the game.
In addition to all that, the overall story didn’t capture my attention and felt overly cliche, falling back onto the old tropes of the Fire Emblem series. This is very unfortunate after the story we received from Fire Emblem Three Houses that proved the team could tackle a more complex and adult story. Then there are the extra battles you can do to get experience for characters, however they’re set on a timer-based system and if you put the game to sleep before entering the battle, you lose that chance. It just feels like a way to prevent players from grinding the extra battles for experience to over-level the story missions.
- Story is a step down
- Grinding battles on a timer
Final Score: 8/10
Ultimately, Fire Emblem Engage is a mixed bag. If you’re coming in just for the story, you’ll be sorely disappointed but if it’s for the tactical gameplay, then there is a plethora of entertainment to be discovered here. The Emblem system is one of the most fun and unique ways to add a secondary class to your units, while making them feel unique and special on the battlefield. If you love Fire Emblem as a series, there are a lot of nice interactions to discover, even though there are still plenty of characters that haven’t been released in English and having the writing feel designed to be funny in the moment rather than focusing on driving the characters’ personalities.
Thank you for checking out our Fire Emblem Engage Switch review, thank you to Nintendo AU/NZ for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: