An Introduction to the World of Elyos and its Heroes
Fire Emblem Engage is the latest chapter in the esteemed Fire Emblem series. Released for the Nintendo Switch in January 2023 by Intelligent Systems, this tactical RPG has earned praise for its deep combat systems, captivating characters, and immersive plots. This review aims to dissect the offerings of Fire Emblem Engage and assess its worthiness as a part of your game collection.
The game unfolds on the continent of Elyos, a land imperiled by dark forces. Players assume the role of Alear, the Divine Dragon—a young, customizable warrior on a mission to collect the Emblem Rings, powerful artifacts needed to defeat evil. Along the way, Alear encounters a diverse cast of characters, each with their own motivations and traits, who join in the quest.
While Fire Emblem Engage focuses primarily on battle sequences and combat systems, it does offer some narrative twists and character development. However, compared to other titles in the series, it falls short in delivering a compelling narrative. The lack of a charismatic antagonist weakens the story’s pull.
The pacing and character growth can’t match the heights reached by its predecessor, Fire Emblem Three Houses. However, the lore and world-building are skillfully crafted, providing a sturdy foundation for the unfolding events.
Mastering the Battle Grid: New Mechanics and Classic Strategy
Fire Emblem Engage offers the turn-based tactical strategy gameplay that fans adore. Each chapter serves a dual role, featuring not only a main battle but also optional side quests like paralogues and skirmishes. These are randomly available in scenarios you’ve completed before.
If you’re new to Fire Emblem, imagine the battles as an advanced chess match. Units come in distinct classes with varying movement abilities, engaging enemies as soon as they make contact.
You’ll move your units on a grid, strategically positioning them to attack. All the while, you’ll need to consider weapon types, terrain advantages, and enemy locations. Every team has its unique set of abilities and strengths, with some units being particularly effective against specific enemy classes.
The Engage system is a key new feature. As units fight alongside their equipped Emblem—a ring or bracelet—they charge a gauge. Once full, this allows them to enter Engage mode, fusing with the Emblem to gain three turns of unleashing special abilities and powerful attacks.
Another innovation is the Break system, a mechanic that activates when a unit initiates combat with an inherent weapon advantage, such as swords over lances, or lances over axes. Close-combat units can inflict Break status on ranged foes like archers and mages. When afflicted, the enemy unit loses its weapon, becoming unable to counterattack until the end of the next turn. This concept isn’t entirely new; it’s seen in other titles like Octopath Traveler.
After each skirmish, exploration awaits. Players can roam the game world, engage in conversations, gather items, and even adopt animals. These animals take up residence at your Somniel base and offer resources like iron.
A Feast for the Eyes and Ears: Graphics and Sound Design
Perhaps one of the most remarkable features of Fire Emblem Engage is its breathtaking visual design. Characters are rendered with meticulous attention to detail, nearly leaping off the screen in vibrant life. Moreover, the environments—be it battlefields or the tranquil resting spaces like Somniel—are far more filled-in, leaving fewer gaps than its predecessors.
Yet, where the game truly shines is in its animations, especially during Engage attacks and “fusions.” The special effects accompanying these moves are nothing short of dazzling, becoming highlights that punctuate the gameplay.
In addition to its visual allure, Fire Emblem Engage presents an audio feast. The soundtrack perfectly complements the game’s atmosphere, boasting an array of tracks that serve to enhance every moment. Whether it’s the rousing orchestral anthems during battles or the softer tunes that grace quieter scenes, the music is consistently on point.
The game’s sound effects deserve a special nod. Each weapon clash and magic burst resounds with palpable impact, making every action in the game deeply satisfying. Adding further depth is the voice acting, which has been selectively reduced primarily in cutscenes, resembling the approach in the spin-off Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. Notably, the protagonist is no longer silent, contributing a voice that lends greater emphasis to their character.
Value and Longevity: More Than Just a Campaign
Fire Emblem Engage is far from a fleeting encounter; it offers a substantive gameplay experience. The main campaign alone requires roughly 45 hours to conquer, yet optional side missions, skirmishes, and paralogues abound, introducing fresh characters and adding layers to the story. Intriguingly, the game opts out of a New Game Plus feature—a common staple that allows players to restart with added bonuses after completing the campaign.
Instead, Engage ventures into the realm of online play. The game offers modes like Relay Trials and Outrealm Trials, inviting players to either collaborate or compete against one another. Access to these modes is unlocked via tickets earned during the primary campaign, adding an extra layer of longevity to the experience.
Should you crave even more, an Expansion Pass is available for purchase. This additional content arrives in four waves, featuring new characters, story arcs, gameplay features, and a range of fresh classes and costumes to adorn your units.
Final Thoughts: Fire Emblem Engage, A Worthy Encounter in Tactical Gaming
In summation, Fire Emblem Engage stands as a robust installment in a storied franchise, one where the battle is as pleasing to the eye as it is engaging to the mind.
The game’s visual palette is rich and dynamic, marked by intricate character designs and vibrant colors that push the limits of the platform. Meanwhile, an evocative soundtrack amplifies the immersion, rounding out an already captivating experience.
While the narrative may not reach the heights of complexity seen in earlier entries—namely, the emotional depths plumbed through dating sim elements in Three Houses—the game excels in providing a gameplay experience that is both accessible to newcomers and sufficiently intricate for veterans of tactical RPGs.
Fire Emblem Engage is generous in its offerings: from side quests and paralogues to competitive online modes and purchasable DLC content. The absence of a New Game Plus feature is notable but hardly a deal-breaker.
To conclude, Fire Emblem Engage is a commendable addition to any tactical RPG enthusiast’s repertoire, as well as an inviting gateway for those uninitiated into the franchise. It might not captivate with the same narrative gravitas as its predecessors, but its innovative mechanics and memorable characters make it an experience worth embarking upon.
With solid gameplay, impressive graphics, and an immersive soundtrack, Fire Emblem Engage offers a fun and accessible tactical RPG experience, although its narrative could have been more developed.
In partnership with Moshbit Gaming.