It’s difficult to say whether or not Fire Emblem Engage will appeal to all audiences, as it depends on what type of gameplay and features players are looking for in a game. I know that the Fire Emblem series has a dedicated fanbase that enjoys the turn-based, tactical gameplay and character development. The use of familiar characters from previous entries in the series may appeal to fans of the series, but it could also potentially alienate new players who may feel like they are missing out on previous storylines and character relationships.
My big worry going in was if I would miss out on so much story content because I wasn’t as tied to the franchise as others. After spending about 50 hours with the game, I ultimately decided that whether or not the game will appeal to all audiences will likely depend on individual preferences and what players are looking for in a game.
An Engaging Story
Fire Emblem Engage has a well-crafted narrative that seamlessly integrates characters from previous entries in the series. The idea of using the Engage ability via Emblem Rings to bring together warriors from different Fire Emblem worlds to stop a common enemy is a clever way to include familiar characters without feeling forced. And you will need the strength of these characters to take down the Fell Dragon and save the world.
The goal of collecting the Emblem Rings to gain the powers of old allies is an intriguing gameplay mechanic that adds depth to the game. And the overall objective of bringing peace to the continent of Elyos is an engaging and classic fantasy trope that is easy to understand. In a world of 4 kingdoms, different personalities, and different relationships, coming together to defeat a common enemy isn’t as easy and straightforward as you might think it should be. But then, that would make for a terrible video game story, wouldn’t it?
Traditional, Fire Emblem Combat
Fire Emblem Engage offers a lot of depth in its tactical combat system and character customization. This is akin to past games in the franchise, and older fans – as opposed to those introduced to Fire Emblem in Three Houses – will find a lot of nostalgic practices that they are incredibly familiar with. I love the balance between strategic battles and pre-battle customization. The game allows players to spend as much or as little time in menus as they want to prepare for fights, with the option to auto-equip items and weapons for those who want to jump straight into battle.
The Engage system, in which players can fuse their main character with past Fire Emblem characters to gain improved stats and unique attacks, adds an additional layer of strategy to the game. This is the big change for Fire Emblem Engage, because after you get past this system, things might feel VERY familiar. Fire Emblem has brought back the traditional weapons triangle, which is actually a really accessible combat system for new players. There are other classes to consider of course, including those using spell books, bows, and daggers. These specific classes of characters are weak to any physical attacks, so while they lay outside the traditional triangle, they still have a weakness to consider.
The game also provides detailed information on character abilities and movement, making it easy for players to plan out their teams and strategies. Everything on the map is highlighted, including movement abilities, players you can attack (whether close up or ranged), and even how much damage you may cause. Being really tactical and strategic will be important if you are playing with permadeath, however. Lose an ally in battle, lose them for good!
The camera work and environments are also top-notch. The camera zooms in for special attacks, adding visual appeal to the game. With an array of characters to use and classes to master, Fire Emblem Engage offers a lot of replayability and the opportunity for players to create the perfect team for the battlefield.
Different Then Three Houses
Fire Emblem Engage has a smaller and more focused hub area, called the Somniel, compared to the expansive school grounds in Three Houses. This is likely due to the game relying less on social encounters and focusing more on tactical combat and character customization. The Somniel is still a charming place to explore, it is just different. Giving gifts, chatting over meals, and strengthening bonds between characters can still help in battle when they fight alongside each other. Still, the Somniel is present for more than just that; it is offering players the opportunity to check up on gear and items as well. It’s worth noting that there is no item destruction in this game, so there is actually a little less weapons management to worry about this time around.
The social aspects of the game are still present, but not as prominent as in previous games. Overall, while the hub area may not have the grandeur of Three Houses, it is still an important and enjoyable aspect of the game.