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Fire Emblem Engage is here, but how does it play? (Image via Intelligent Systems)

Fire Emblem Engage review: An amazing tribute to the classic strategy series

Many fans were worried about Fire Emblem Engage as the game drew closer to launch, but I don’t think there’s a lot of merit to those arguments. Admittedly, Alear’s design, with the Colgate-colored hair, is hit-or-miss; it grew on me after a bit. I liked both the male and female designs of the character. Another thing people were worried about was. Frankly, Fire Emblem Three Houses was a smash hit.

Moving away from the Persona-esque time management system and deep relationships worried fans. After all, one of the series' most popular parts is the heroes' interpersonal relationships. Fire Emblem Engage shifts away from that, but players are rewarded with the best combat the series has ever known.


I miss having many S-Rank partnerships with comical, awkward, or cringe-inducing interactions. While yes, the game cuts back a significant amount on relationships in the game. Everything else has been a smash hit for me.

Fire Emblem Engage is a trip through time in a modern setting

Set in the land of Elyos, the story of Fire Emblem Engage is simple enough to follow. It’s a battle between the Divine Dragon and the Fell Dragon. The game starts with the end of the two forces’ battle, and somehow, the child of the Divine Dragon falls into a thousand-year sleep.

In this battle, we were introduced to the Emblem Rings. These contain the power and memories of heroes of Fire Emblem's past.


After a thousand years of peace, the seal on the Fell Dragon weakens, and the hero awakens again. Alear’s goal is to free Sombron, the Fell Dragon. This is done by gathering up all of the Emblem Rings, though not all of them are in allied hands. It’s up to Alear, and a few allies, to build a force worthy of gathering all of the rings and putting evil to rest.

There are 36 potential party members in Fire Emblem Engage, so no matter what character archetype you want in your party, the game has you covered. Alear is pretty quick to make friends, too. This leads me to one of the few things about the story and character interactions that felt strange to me.

This is from Chloe's very first support conversation in Fire Emblem Engage (Image via Intelligent Systems)

Everybody, and I mean everybody, in Fire Emblem Engage is "thirsty" for Alear. Regardless of what gender you make the protagonist, everybody is looking to get close to the Divine Dragon. Now, I don’t mean that literally.

Lots of characters have platonic interest in Alear, but goodness. There are so many moments where a character discovers the protagonist is the Divine Dragon, and they almost immediately flirt with the character.


It often comes across as pretty comical, but I understand why this might be happening. You only get one S-Rank relationship in the game, and it’s with Alear and someone else. Regardless of gender, you can romance pretty much everyone in the game.

Watch: An early support conversation.

I appreciate that a great deal and many players feel the same. Some relationships are romantic in Fire Emblem Engage, while others are flirty or platonic. Some of the party members are young, so it's worth pointing out that not all S-Rank conversations are romantic.

There are still character interactions, but they’re brief, whether between Emblem Rings or between fellow party members. Thankfully, quality of life changes and combat more than makes up for this.


The best Fire Emblem combat a player could ask for

Combat is the best part of Fire Emblem Engage, as it should be. You will have up to 12 party members at any moment in battle, and some things have been simplified. The weapon triangle is back, so it’s clear what weapons are strong and weak versus what. Traditional weaknesses remain as well. Magic is strong against heavily armored units, and arrows devastate flying units.

Each character has a different passive in battle, making every party member worth using. I still focused on particular party members that I enjoy using. But no matter how solid or weak someone is, you can further enhance them with Emblem Rings. Each party member can wear one. You can give them an Emblem Ring or a lesser Bond Ring created via Bond Points.

Bond Rings are one of the weak parts of the game, though. Not the actual stats or strength of the items, as some are incredible. Putting it behind a weird gacha/RNG system? Not so much a fan of that. Thankfully, you can manipulate that as well quickly enough.


Each Emblem Ring confers the powers and abilities of one of the legendary heroes of the Fire Emblem series. These range from weapon proficiencies to new passives and special weapons.

Those weapons can only be used when you activate the new Engage Mode. This transforms your hero into a super-stylish anime character with new abilities, special attacks, and occasionally weapons to use.

For example, if you level up your bond with Marth enough, you can use Mercurius, a sword that grants double exp when you strike with it in battle. Many of these skills have incredible power or can completely change the tide of battle. You can also refill the Engage meter over time, or by stepping on, and staying on a glowing blue tile, for one turn. So you aren’t forced only to use it once in battle.

There are two incredible changes for battle, though. The first goes to healers. The default healers are Qi Adepts and monks. They can block an incoming attack with Chain Defense, provide the healer is at full HP. You can also heal with some Emblem Rings, making even your most powerful DPS character a healer in a pinch.


Healers are tankier now and less dangerous, but they start soft and weak. But the big takeaway is that they are so much safer to use. There are lots of useful utility spells they can purchase as well. You can warp people around, create ice blocks to prevent foes from crossing a tile, and much more.

Mostly, it feels like the AI is much more competent. It’s more prone to moving in groups and flanking/surrounding the weaker members of your party. The time-travel mechanic from Three Houses is back too.

If someone dies, you can rewind the battle a few turns, as many times as you need. However, you don’t have to play on Classic. You can choose to play without permadeath, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Watch: Combat in the battle for Anna.

However, even on Classic, there are battles you can enter into that won’t trigger permadeath. Skirmishes pop up occasionally on your world map, and if it triggers on one of the allied castles, it will instead be a Training Skirmish. Characters don’t die on these, at least on Normal. Instead, they retreat.


The Somniel is pretty but incredibly tedious

Your home base is known as the Somniel, a vast castle town with several things to see and do. Thankfully, it has fast travel, or it would be unbearable. You do everything from activating your Amiibos to fishing or training battles in Somniel.

In particular, the place you’ll likely visit first on every trip home is the Ring Chamber or the Arena. The Ring Chamber is where you go to equip passive skills from your Emblem Rings. The Arena hosts one-on-one training battles and one-on-one battles with the Emblem Rings. You can spend your Bond Shards here to increase your ranking with a ring much faster.

You can also see the rewards on the right side of the screen in Fire Emblem Engage, so it’s clear what you’re investing your points into. These rings are incredible and can help shift a character's future from one class to another. There are tons of classes to unlock, and you can only enter a character class if you have the correct weapon proficiency/levels.


That’s what makes the Emblem Rings so great. You can use them to give characters new weapon proficiencies, allowing them to take classes they normally might not have access to. For example, you can take Anna down the High Priest route for extraordinary Luck growth. You combine that with the Tiki Bracelet (one of the DLC characters) to make money farming easier.

I love this place in Fire Emblem Engage, but it’s so massive and empty. You can have brief but disappointing chats with characters, go fishing, or farm items off your adopted animals. It’s not the worst home base I’ve ever seen, but it is underwhelming.

Visuals and soundtrack of Fire Emblem Engage are stunning

There are lots of little things, visually speaking, to love about Fire Emblem Engage. The character designs are mostly terrific, and the actual world is breathtaking on the Nintendo Switch. In particular, I love the movements made in the battle scenes. Watching Chloe rocket back on her flying mount and smash through a fellow mounted unit with the sunset in the backdrop?

It’s perfection. I’m a big fan of the game's aesthetic, and the battlefields are colorful and easy to navigate. It’s not unclear where I can or cannot move unless the map is purposely darkened for in-game reasons. Fire Emblem Engage’s soundtrack is top-notch as well. It’s excellent at setting the mood and features several classic Fire Emblem tracks.


Watch: Combat continues

If you have Amiibos from the Fire Emblem series, you can turn them in for classic music, even back to the NES era of Fire Emblem games. It’s fun to shake up battles because you’ll likely do a fair amount of grinding while playing this game.


While I am disappointed that the character interaction was nerfed in Fire Emblem Engage, the story is light-hearted and enjoyable. The back-and-forth “good versus evil” story would make an excellent anime. Not everyone will appreciate the story's tone, and while I prefer tragedies, I also like what was done here.

Fire Emblem Engage improved combat in virtually every way, from adding smash attacks that knock foes backward to reducing the strength of Chain Attacks. It was heartbreaking to see Chain Attacks weakened, but it was probably the right choice.

The latest Fire Emblem has a clean, easy-to-read UI, fantastic gameplay, and a varied roster of characters, each with their style and background. There’s a lot to love about Fire Emblem Engage. It’s worthy of the title “Fire Emblem.”


Fire Emblem Engage

Fire Emblem Engage is a gorgeous, enjoyable tactical RPG experience (Image via Sportskeeda)

Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch (Code provided by Nintendo)

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Developer: Intelligent Systems

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: January 20, 2023

Edited by
Srijan Sen
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