Fire Emblem Engage: Initial Review

video courtesy Intelligent Systems


Moises Alvarez, Staff Writer


Fire Emblem Engage has just been released on the Nintendo Switch as the newest entry in the Strategy JRPG series, bringing an incredible return to form for the franchise that satisfies both new and old players.

(Non-Spoiler Review)

One thousand years after his defeat at the hands of the Divine Dragon and the twelve heroes from other worlds known as Emblems, the Fell Dragon Sombron has reawakened from his sealed slumber to bring ruin to the land of Elyos. At the same time, the divine dragon child, Alear, has also reawakened from their thousand slumber inflicted by a past injury. After being greeted by their stewards Clanne, Framme, and Vander encounter monsters known as Corrupted that have manifested by the Fell Dragon’s power. Alear remembers their power, the ability to summon Emblems. With this threat shown to them, they are given their quest by Queen Lumera of Lythos: retrieve the twelve Emblem rings before Sombron’s forces do and defeat the Fell Dragon.


This newest entry in the franchise brings easily some of the most fun, challenging and engaging gameplay the series has ever seen. The map design and enemy placement feel fined balanced to give an experience that offers a challenge without being too overwhelming or just outright unfair.

The reintroduction of the weapon triangle mechanic to the series, along with the new “Break” mechanic puts a new spin on the old system that seems both rewarding as it does punishing.

The game actually finds itself quite difficult but not in a manner that feels unfair but in a manner than gives the player the feeling of needing to reflect on their strategy. When a unit is lost or placed in a bad position it often falls on the player to assess their challenge more critically.


The titular mechanic of this newest entry: Emblems, twelve iconic characters from past games across the entire series return to assist Alear and their army adding both celebration for the series as well as offering a new variable to the classic gameplay loop, ultimately they feel very…Fun!

Their mixture of unique weapons, sync skills, and engage attacks allow the player to go for creative and unconventional strategies to win when their back is to the wall. The limit of being able to engage for only three turns feels fair, causing the player to think of when to put them to use while not being too limiting of how it is they choose to use them.

-Story & Writing

The story is certainly there but in comparison to past games, it feels a bit shallow. It serves more to move the game along than to be deeply invested in it. There are highs and lows for these characters as the plot moves along but they lack some weight. It does offer some breathing space with the little break spaces placed after levels are complete but they don’t offer much to the character’s involvement. It also moves along pretty fast with being able to choose to simply move from level to level without visiting areas like the Somniel.

Along with the weaker plot, an essential pillar of the series support conversations seems to be in a “lesser” state as well in comparison to past games, support conversations find themselves much shorter. Mixed with the higher difficulty and character overflow in the earlier parts of the game, support conversations are now much more difficult to max out. This is disappointing as they provide the meat and potatoes for character depth in Fire Emblem. Games of the past like Fire Emblem Awakening(2012) and Fire Emblem Three Houses(2019) have communities that hold their love for the series because of the characters they found themselves invested in. For the gameplay-first focused player, this may not offer many issues but for old players that fell in love with their games because of their character writing or new players wanting something to be invested in, this is certainly a shame.


On a brighter note, Fire Emblem Engage has absolutely incredible visual presentation. The UI, animations, and visuals of this game are a direct upgrade over its predecessor Fire Emblem Three Houses(2019), whereas three houses felt to have an overload of menus upon menus mixed with washed colors and over-detailed displays which while fitting for three houses, could feel overwhelming. Engage cuts the fat and nonsense offering a clean and visually pleasing menu that clearly displays every piece of information the player needs to easily manage their units. The much brighter color palette also helps to give atmosphere to the large variety of map designs that help make them pop.

Engage’s animations also offer a step closer to classics like Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade(2003) and Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia(2017) with flashy and eye-catching attack animations that greatly elevate the gameplay loop. Each one from taking a hit to crushing an enemy, dodging an attack, and especially the absolute spectacle that is the engage attacks, offers a clean motion that feels exciting every time they trigger.


Ultimately Fire Emblem Engage finds itself as an incredibly well-crafted and balanced entry that offers one of the most definitive gameplay experiences in the series. While its writing and plot loop may not be favored by all fans, Engage truly succeeds as a celebration of the series in a way never seen before.


Definitely Recommend.