Fire Emblem is one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises of all time and I’ve been meaning to play one of the main games for ages. Now at last I’ve made it. There may be some debate as to this being a spinoff or a main title but I absolutely give it the nod to hanging out with the other originals. It just works really well there with the classic gameplay. Nintendo has likely got the game of the year here with Engage since it’s hard to see this one being defeated. The story is phenomenal and every single aspect of the game is super polished from the dynamite soundtrack to the top tier graphics. Whether you like the tactics style or not you should check this one out.
The game starts off with Alear and the 12 Fire Emblem fighters of legend teaming up to deal some absolutely devastating damage to the villains. They even manage to destroy the villain and bring the world to peace. 1000 years pass and Alear wakes up in the present to find out that he is worshipped as a divine dragon. Unfortunately his waking was not coincidental as he is quickly attacked by the corrupted. They are a race of powerful villains, albeit fairly mindless ones who are aiming to really cause a lot of trouble. They are working for a group of villains who are trying to take over all of the kingdoms and steal the 12 Emblem Rings. Alear and friends will have to try and get them first but this adventure will go through a whole lot of twists and turns first.
The game took me over 24 hours to complete according to the playtime but if you count retries and such I’m confident it was a lot longer. Fortunately I had a lot of time to play this game, you make time for the top tier titles after all and I can’t think of the last time I marathoned a game so hard. It’s just because this is the kind of game you can’t put down. It’s just way too exhilarating and exciting. The rush you get while playing the story here is not something that just any game can get. You can imagine how much story content there is in such a long game and no expense was spared on the cutscenes.
For example a lot of games will have some cutscenes sporadically but this one has such long cutscenes that the switch would constantly dim from power saver mode and you’d have to make the screen go bright again. Additionally there is full voice acting in just about every step of the game which is incredibly impressive. You hear all the voices in the main story missions, the side quests, etc. It’s a lot of extra detail here and it’s the little things like that which make the game feel extra special. As I mentioned there are a lot of great tunes throughout the game as well and it starts with a very solid intro theme. The music can get quite emotional and then switch to action paced on a dime.
In terms of replay value it goes without saying that there is a lot to do here. After beating the game you can play through the tower of trials and a lot of other modes. There are extra paralogue chapters where you can meet characters and you can also increase all of your bonds with the characters to unlock bonus cutscenes. A nice bonus of watching these cutscenes is that they increase the bond level of your fighters further which increases the stats. There are even minigames like doing pushups to make your characters stronger. I didn’t touch too many of the bonus modes but there is just an incredible amount of content here.
Now if I have my first minor issue it’s that it can be difficult to see which weapon is more powerful to buy at the shop. In most games it’s quite easy to pick out the one you want since you compare it to the weapon you are holding but there is no easy menu to do that. Additionally every weapon has close to 11 stats and the one with the higher attack isn’t always stronger thanks to speed and type advantages. As a result that muddies the water even more and you almost don’t want to destroy any items. On the other hand it’s hard to earn money here so you really need to do that if you want more funds.
It’s a tough pickle for sure but this is a strategy game so that may be intentional. You can also adopt animals in this game which was cool. I made sure to rescue every animal I came across in the level hub worlds because as a hero I could do no less! You can pet them and feed them once you’re back at base which is fun. This is really a complete game. There’s nothing that feels like it was held back for DLC although we are getting several waves of that already. This is a game that was complete out of the box and I can always appreciate that.
Wow I still haven’t talked much about the gameplay right? Well, it’s your classic strategy turn based style so you move your fighters from area to area as you try to take out the enemy commander. Occasionally the objective will be something different but this is generally how it plays out. As the game starts you will control a few players but by the end you will control as many as 14 while the opponent has 30+. So it’s all about choosing when to start battles and when to avoid them. Like in Chess each character has a different amount of spaces they can move and their abilities are all different so you have to take that into account.
As you bond with your emblem you can learn new skills to stack on top of the old one as well. The gameplay is very thorough so pay attention to all of the tutorials. In terms of strategies my main tip is to always use Segall and Byleth as separate characters so don’t pair them together. The reason is that Segall can allow a player to get a second turn while Byleth can restore 4 turns. So if you use this as a combo right you can get 5 extra turns in the blink of an eye which is super handy. I used this combo a lot near the end of the game. There are plenty of other cool abilities as well so at the end of the day the main thing to remember here is to try and use each ability to the best you can. If you do that then you’ll be just fine.
If you die, no worries. You have a time crystal so you can respawn on any previous turn and rethink your strategy. Keep grinding out different formations until you have secured victory! The fight animations here are also really cool with complete choreography for each move. Admittedly I started skipping them after a while just for time’s sake as watching every attack would probably double or triple my overall play time. I do like that they put a whole lot of effort into this.
Overall, Fire Emblem Engage is an elite title and you will definitely enjoy your playthrough of it. I always enjoy tactics gameplay but that alone wouldn’t make this an elite game. No, what pushes this one over the top is how fantastic the story is. It’s one of the more emotional titles you’ll play in a while and it just has a super satisfying ending which seals the deal. I don’t go into much details here because it’s the kind of story where you want to go in fresh but there are just so many dynamite characters all around. Whether you’ve played Fire Emblem or not, you can absolutely jump into this one. It’s very new player friendly and you will have no regrets when going through the adventure.