Fire Emblem Engage is a punchy, finely-tuned strategy RPG that comes packing a well-balanced combat engine, and lovable cast of characters. While there is a relationship mechanic in play here, it definitely isn’t as central as it was in the previous Fire Emblem title (Three Houses). Indeed, while Engage certainly has quite a bit of content to interact with outside of combat, it feels like the combat was the core focus of the developers.
Fire Emblem Engage exists in a unique position. It is perfectly approachable for players new to the series. There isn’t a single element that requires you to have played any of the previous games. Yet, a ton of fan-favorite characters have returned as Emblems, meaning there is also a hefty amount of fanservice for series veterans. It is far from being a short game, but its gameplay has been nearly universally praised.
TheGamer’s own editor and chief, Stacey Henley, wrote the review for Fire Emblem Engage, and she beautifully captured the duality of the experience. In regard to Engage following up Three Houses, Stacey wrote that “From a gameplay perspective… it’s far richer than Three Houses, both in terms of individual battles and in how you approach the map and choose your quests and paralogues.” Though this praise was balanced with the criticism that “the less violent parts of the game, which usually hold the most charm and heart, are found wanting.”
“This is the best Fire Emblem game to play ever. No exaggeration. I have not experienced all of the very early games, but I have seen enough to plant my flag for this one. But to fully experience? Way down the list. It’s frustrating in the extreme – I just do not care about these characters and their plight”
Stacey praised the mechanical depth that the Emblem system brings to the traditional Fire Emblem gameplay, praising the “fiendishly tricky layer of tactics to battles” that the system brings. While also criticizing the Emblems for being “a little too involved in the story.” While she clearly felt like there was a tug-of-war between the narrative and gameplay elements, she still ultimately enjoyed the game enough to reward it with a handsome 4 out of 5 stars.
Longtime fans of the strategy RPG genre are unlikely to be surprised when they hear that Fire Emblem Engage is, indeed, a lengthy game. Even if an individual were to rush through it on the easiest difficulty, it would still take them dozens of hours. Played on all but the easiest difficulty setting, it is also a pretty tough game. So, if you decide to test your mettle, the length of your playthrough will unquestionably increase.
And anyone looking to complete all the optional side-content, including maxing out your relationships with the large cast of characters, and completing the many paralogue missions, will find that the game is much closer to the 75-hour mark. Like we said, it isn’t light on content.
Fire Emblem Engage is only available on the Switch, and it is a brand-new title. So, your pricing options are pretty limited. You are likely to be paying the full MSRP, which is currently $59.99.
Seeing as this is a first-party Nintendo title, this will always be a Switch title, and their titles tend to hold their value. If you are looking to get a discount, your best bet is to check your local game store; from what we have seen, you will likely save around $5 by buying a used copy (if you are lucky enough to find one).
As for the DLC, that is an additional $29.99. It will provide you with more Emblem units to recruit, additional items, and even a new paralogue mission.
What Players Are Saying
Well-Paced With Pristine Combat – James Kennedy
While I enjoyed Three Houses—and thought it had one of the better narratives in the series—I couldn’t escape the feeling that the game dragged a little. And if I am being honest, the combat felt a little watered down. Fire Emblem Engage, on the other hand, is the anti-Three Houses. That is both a good and a bad thing, as it means that the game moves at a brisk, punchy pace, and the combat is absolutely top-notch, but the narrative ends up feeling thin and insubstantial. I like it for what it is, as the gameplay is marvelous and the pacing is excellent, but I do wish the story had a little more weight behind it. As is, the narrative is here solely to glue the combat sections together. It’s a great game, but I suspect the people who are primarily into the series for the story will be severely disappointed.
Well Worth An Engagement – Jerel Levy
While Three Houses arguably made Fire Emblem more of a household name, Engage proves that it’s ok to try new things, and leave successful implementation behind for a return to origins. Fire Emblem Engage thrives on its gameplay, with refreshing combat that’s gorgeous on handheld and on tv. The engage mechanic proves to be the most exciting driving force behind the battles, along with the new break mechanic, which brings more consequence to the rock-paper-scissors style weapon triangle. If you’re coming from Three Houses there will be too many characters, far fewer interesting bond connections, and a clear-cut story with no hint of a morally gray dilemma. Still, Fire Emblem Engage is worth every dollar spent, improving and succeeding where its predecessors do not.
Strategically Sound, Narratively Inferior – Seth Parmer
Seth ParmerFire Emblem Engage’s combat is a significant step above what was present in Three Houses in pretty much every regard, making each encounter feel organic, challenging, and rewarding. While the overarching narrative feels like a step down from previous entries, there’s still enough there to make you care for the world and characters. Overall, Fire Emblem Engage delivers on what’s expected from the series and is one of the best strategy JRPGs to release in quite some time. Even if the story doesn’t quite reach the highs you’d expect after Three Houses.
Definitely One For The Fans – Ryan Bamsey
Fire Emblem Engage has some of the most engaging (hah) combat the series has ever seen, with great map, enemy, and strategy variety that keeps things interesting. Unfortunately, the plot is weighed down by overdone anime tropes and a total overreliance on fanservice and references to past games. Overall, it’s a very solid entry, worth getting for the gameplay alone, but the writing is at a series-wide low, so don’t go in expecting much in that department.