If you’re a fan of turn-based strategy games or are hopelessly in love with fictional anime characters, Fire Emblem doesn’t happen much. While Nintendo Switch has already welcomed the immaculate Fire Emblem: Three Houses and the real—time spin-off of Three Hopes, developer Intelligent Systems is back to get more with Fire Emblem Engage, a kingdom journey that challenges players to solve the world’s woes with good old tile-based combat.
Engage’s journey begins when the protagonist Alear, a divine dragon who looks like a Colgate tube and suffers from a terrible allergy to alarm clocks, wakes up from a thousand-year slumber and discovers a kingdom in turmoil. A dark group is trying to resurrect an apocalyptic Dread Dragon, and Alear is tasked with tracking down many powerful emblem rings before they fall into the wrong hands.
These Emblem Rings are scattered all over the world of the Elians — some hidden, others entrusted to the ruling families of the kingdoms of the continent — and besides creating an intriguing plot, they offer the biggest twist in the game based on the tile strategy Fire Emblem. formula. Emblem rings, equipped with one of the many group members you pick up in your quest, allow their owners to briefly summon the spirits of famous faces from the Fire Emblem franchise to gain new attacks and abilities. These abilities are ridiculously funny—for example, Gaiden’s Selika allows its owner to teleport across the map to conduct a devastating magic attack; while March is an unstoppable powerhouse with a sword.
Although they are inherently very strong, your time with the emblem is measured and you only get a few moves with them before needing to recharge. This means that in particularly protracted battles, they become your trump card up your sleeve, and in combination with the Engage rewind function, which can now be used an unlimited number of times, players are provided with many options for solving increasingly complex game tasks. battles.
In addition, Engage brings several changes that will be familiar to old Fire Emblem fans, but will be new to those who appeared in Three Houses. Players still have a social center that they can visit between turn-based battles in the game, but since Engage is linked to a rail map of the world, you spend much less time there than in Garreg Mach. This means that Engage feels like a grand adventure where you’re always on the move — and while you can’t deviate from a pre-determined game path, additional missions will allow you to return to recruit new characters, collect additional loot, and gain more experience for your characters.
However, the first chapters of Engage throw new members of the group to you unusually quickly — and while it’s great if you play fast and loose with eternal death enabled, it’s hard to connect emotionally with each character when you’re juggling 15 of them. . You can still invite people on dates and sit like a fly on the wall to support conversations between characters, but many social elements are hidden away to enjoy at your leisure. While the decision to streamline the flow of missions will be welcomed by players who are solely interested in the turn-based thrills of Fire Emblem, it seems that the social side of Engage has, in a sense, taken a step back.
In general, it is difficult to find fault with the direction of Engage. The combat feels clearer and more enjoyable than ever, while the intriguing plot and colorful visual touch make Engage a great starting point for Switch owners who have never touched a Fire Emblem game. Last year was a stunning success for strategy games, and Engage looks like it will continue this trend. launch.
Fire Emblem Engage is released on January 20 for the Nintendo Switch. We will have a full review closer to this time — follow it on NME Gaming.