- System: Nintendo Switch
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Intelligent Systems
- Release Date: January 20, 2023
- Rating: T for Teen
- Genre: Tactical RPG, Strategy
- Players: 1
- Official Website: https://www.nintendo.com/ph/switch/ayfn/
Fire Emblem, a franchise that has stood the test of time alongside the greats like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Utilizing a system of strategic turn-based gameplay, the Fire Emblem games have always pushed players into thinking ten steps ahead to avoid losing their units—sometimes permanently—and to best level up warriors to avoid overpowering one specific character. Fire Emblem: Three Houses was the last Intelligent Systems developed title, and it was met with some great fanfare proving this franchise isn’t going anywhere, which makes our hive happy here at Honey’s Anime!
Now in 2023, we have been blessed with yet another Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem: Engage, and it has some serious shoes to fill after how amazing Three Houses was! Does Fire Emblem: Engage continue to show why this is one of Nintendo’s best works or is it time for the TRPG to finally rethink its own strategy? We find out in our review of Fire Emblem: Engage for the Nintendo Switch!
Engage Those Rings, Baby!
In Fire Emblem: Engage, players assume the role of the Divine Dragon Alear—whose name can be changed as well as the gender—who has been in a slumber for over a thousand years after saving the world from the evil Fell Dragon. Awoken from their slumber, the Divine Dragon realizes their memories are basically gone—a common trope of the franchise—and the Fell Dragon is being resurrected. Told only they can stop the evil from regaining strength once more, the Divine Dragon alongside their motley crew are tasked with gaining the only thing that can put the Fell Dragon back into a slumber, the Emblem Rings, powerful rings containing various heroes from other lands called Emblems. Yeah, it isn’t the most original tale for a Fire Emblem game but there is more to this story that appeals to both newcomers and fans of the franchise.
The coolest part of the new story is that you’re going to notice it is quite easy to get into regardless of your Fire Emblem knowledge. Yes, fans will love seeing heroes like Lyn, Ike, and of course, Marth reappear as the new Emblem power—more on that in a moment—but the story is easy to get into and engaging, and filled with drama/surprise. We also love that your MC, regardless of gender choice, is completely voiced, meaning you get to hear them in every cutscene and moment within Fire Emblem: Engage!
We won’t spoil the big moments as there are plenty but be prepared for some pretty eye-opening moments and some really clever dialogue that only the Fire Emblem series can do so well!
Choose Your Emblem!
At its core, Fire Emblem: Engage is basically like most other Fire Emblem games but there are several big new changes that will shock even the most veteran player. Some of the bigger changes come in the form of the new Break system, the Engage Rings, and a return to systems more akin to Fire Emblem: Awakening than Three Houses. The Break System essentially works on the Triangle Weapon system of the Fire Emblem brand but adds a new tweak.
Now, hitting an enemy with their weakness has a high chance of breaking them and causing them to not be able to counter-attack as they used to in almost every Fire Emblem game! This means players can’t keep brute forcing their main character through fights as they will notice your MC isn’t the tank they used to be. We lost a few battles quickly and learned the Break system is a big game changer! Don’t worry though, the ability to rewind the flow of battle does return in case you mess up and were wondering if you needed to do like the olden days and reload a previous save!
The Emblem Rings are the main component of Fire Emblem: Engage and that is where the base of the story/gameplay comes from. Utilizing past Emblem heroes and heroines, Fire Emblem: Engage allows players to equip rings to characters and gives said characters various extra abilities/talents. These Emblem Rings can even allow your player to Engage and end up in a powered-up state with the added strength of using a super special attack that can change the tide of any battle.
The Emblem Rings can make Fire Emblem: Engage feel a bit easier, especially if you opt-in for the resurrection after a battle for lost allies versus the permadeath system, but you’ll still need to really think which rings are best suited for which characters. We found a nice idea to use mount-focused Sigurd—from Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War—on a healer so they can run up, heal an ally and then run away with their added extra movement only horse users can do.
We also mentioned that Fire Emblem: Engage feels akin to the titles like Awakening and/or the older games and that is true. Unlike the school setting of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Fire Emblem: Engage has players navigate a world map where they can choose the next skirmish rather than do it from a central hub. There is still a central hub to be found in Fire Emblem: Engage called Somniel, which acts as a place to rest, talk to units, engage—no pun intended—in various side activities, and power up your team of warriors. There are a lot and we mean a lot of elements to the Somniel but luckily, Fire Emblem: Engage is pretty straightforward explaining how each area works and letting you equally explore to find new places for yourself! It might not be as large as the academy in Fire Emblem: Three Houses but it gets the job done!
Visually Engaging…Okay No More Engage Jokes
The Nintendo Switch gets a pretty bad rep when in comparison to the other big consoles like PS5 and Xbox, which is understandable because it is a hybrid unit. That being said, Fire Emblem: Engage still looks pretty darn good with some impressive character details and some solid—and very colorful if we might add—cutscenes! Yes, the Nintendo Switch won’t be producing Elden Ring levels of visual flair for Fire Emblem: Engage but we can’t deny the more recent games we’ve played on this console, this one is one of the better-looking ones. This is important as when you begin to choose your waifu or husbando—which we know our fellow otaku will do with pride—you want to see every detail of your love-to-be! Good luck though as Fire Emblem: Engage has some pretty gorgeous characters both male and female so picking just one to confess your love to will be no easy feat!
Why Fire Emblem: Engage is A Step Forward for the Franchise!
One belief we have about Fire Emblem: Engage is that many fans of Three Houses will have mixed feelings on how it shies away from that format for a more traditional take on the franchise. Honestly though, Fire Emblem: Engage is a step forward for the series as it brings back a focus on nail-biting battles and less on taking care of units to see who can be better cooks or house cleaners. Fire Emblem: Engage has scrapped off the over-the-top unit micromanaging that was prevalent in Fire Emblem: Three Houses in lieu of a system that still has you needing to alter skills and armaments for the characters—which side note weapons don’t break as they use to unless they are staves—meaning you REALLY need to watch who has what on and if they can properly use it.
Fire Emblem: Engage did add an extremely handy item optimization feature that skips having to go through every character and the convoy to just get the best items for that specific unit automatically placed. Fire Emblem: Engage goes back to its roots and that is what made this game so ironically fresh and exciting! We can only hope for more DLCs to flesh out the already massive experience so we can be held over till the next Fire Emblem game!
Are any of you readers currently playing Fire Emblem: Engage and have some thoughts on it, like who your favorite new character is or what your favorite thing is about Fire Emblem: Engage? Comment below to let us know as we love hearing from you! Keep stuck to our engaging hive—that is the last engage comment—here at Honey’s Anime for more game reviews and all things anime!