Fire Emblem Engage: Nintendo Switch Exclusive Already Important? Our video review!
To get 2023 off to a good start, the Nintendo Switch is exclusively hosting a new episode of Fire Emblem called Engage. Four after the Three Houses box, this new episode of the tactical role-playing saga scheduled for January 20 intends to reproduce the older success. What ensures a Switch of quality exclusivity early in 2023 to start the year in the best light?
- A more classic story than the Three Houses?
- Flexible and spectacular fights
- Somniel, important hub
- A good Nintendo Switch game?
A more classic story than the Three Houses?
Like all episodes of the saga, Fire Emblem Engage tells a unique story set in its own universe. All the action takes place on the continent of Elyos, a region consisting of four kingdoms that surrounds the sacred land of Lythos, the land of the Divine Dragons. One thousand years before the events of the game, the continent has been ravaged by the war waged against the Fallen Dragons, clearly evil entities. To counter this, various empires have summoned the power of the Emblem rings that contain the spirits of otherworldly heroes, the other Fire Emblem. During the final struggle, our avatar, the Divine Dragon, defeats his foe, but falls into a deep sleep from his mortal wound. A millennium later, our hero finally wakes up when the Fallen Dragon looks like he’s about to return, as evidenced by the emergence of monsters called deviations. In order to defeat this threat again, our quest is to collect Emblem rings which are distributed among various nations in order to have the necessary power to defeat the evil entity.
Compared to the previous game, Therefore, Fire Emblem Engage offers a much more classic story, with on the one hand good and a well-defined demonic antagonist.. We were far removed from the terrible conflict of the Three Houses which prompted us to face those who were previously our disciples and companions at the Abbey. In addition to this Manichean story, we also note that players have far fewer choices than in previous episodes, which therefore makes the experience more intervening than we have known in the past. Despite the fact that it’s stitched together in the end with white thread, the story is still a joy to follow thanks to its lovable cast of characters who benefit from the colorful designs.
Going from one kingdom to another, we find different cultures and heroes with strong characters that are fun to interact with in Somniel, the headquarters of the title. Then, there’s also fan service with famous faces from previous games occupying hidden roles, but which will still please the fans. Beyond that, we deserve well-staged, cleanly choreographed cutscenes for history’s most important scenes, as is often the case in Fire Emblem. On the other hand, in light of more lambda conversations, we note that the staging is much simpler, even basic, for example with a simple back-and-forth shot.
Flexible and spectacular fights
As for the essence of experience, Fire Emblem Engage remains a tactical role-playing game where we connect turn-based combat where unit placement is central. From this point of view, Engage’s levels are very similar to Three Houses in that we find all of the same convenience options that make confrontations more fluid. We thought especially about the possibility of returning if we have taken the wrong action, the way of moving around the map or even the fact of easily switching from one weapon to another for example. Among the novelties, we note that the interface has been changed to be more readable, but also to display all the necessary information at the bottom of the screen so that it is not distracting.
However, the strong point of this Fire Emblem Engage battle, especially the animation, has received special attention from the developer. As soon as the duel between the two units is triggered, we witness an impressive confrontation in which the punches follow each other with amazing naturalness and fluidity., which gives the impression of having to do actual choreography. If that seems to be an element of detail, given the many duels we’ve been involved in throughout our adventure, we’re very happy that the fights are so much fun to watch. Another great novelty of Fire Emblem Engage is definitely the emblem fusion mechanism that allows you to join the spirit of the heroes present in the ring. In this combined form, a unit gains access to new skills that are distinctly different from those of the heroes in the ring. Among these new techniques we find for example the possibility to attack an opponent at the other end of the map, upgrade his allies, summon doubles, create blocks of ice or simply chain shots.
If at first we feared this mechanic would simply stupidly overwhelm any unit, even if it meant upsetting the balance of the game, this is not the case. Emblem Fusions are actually used to access various skills that reveal their full potential depending on the situation, to get players out of bad patches.. So hardcore Fire Emblem players rest assured, this mechanic isn’t broken as it doesn’t overpower any unit with the snap of a finger. Also, the transformation lasts only three rounds and the appropriate gauge must be refilled before it can be reactivated, which prevents constant abuse. And then, in terms of difficulty, as usual we can choose between several modes, with the possibility of activating or not permanently losing units if they die on the battlefield.
Somniel, important hub
But Fire Emblem Engage isn’t just about fighting becausewe also spent a lot of time on Somniel, the floating island that served as our heroes’ base of operations. This is where you buy equipment, healing items, and care for your units to prepare them for their next mission. For this, we can train them, make them change classes, but the most important thing is to discuss and spend time with them so that they are closer and they are more effective on the battlefield. Of course, your fighters can also get closer to each other, which also gives them stat bonuses when they’re side by side on the field. However, compared to Tiga Rumah, we note that this aspect of managing social relations is lacking., while being developed sufficiently for those who appreciate it, to keep everyone happy. Unfortunately, getting your units ready before the next one isn’t always easy as the exhausting menus can sometimes be hard to find. At this level, we want things to be a bit smoother and for the interface to gain general readability.
But beyond that, This great novelty from Fire Emblem Engage is emblem rings which let you upgrade your units outside of combat. For those equipped, they can learn techniques that give them passive bonuses against points earned during battle. But if there are only twelve emblem rings, it’s possible to craft more for your other units thanks to a random summon system that doesn’t guarantee what can be obtained. Well, this is definitely a mechanic found in gachas, these free mobile games that offer portals to summon, but we’re never quite sure what we’re going to restore.
Thus, in Engage, we restored the ring that represents the spirit of a Fire Emblem minor hero and which, once equipped, allows you to benefit from a small passive bonus in terms of stats. Hence the end a somewhat anecdotal aspect that has little impact on the gaming experience and one that we could do without since we have to make the game pay out the full pot. However, this isn’t the first time we’ve come across gacha mechanics in a Nintendo game as this already happened with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 which was released back in 2017. And like in Fire Emblem Engage, this system is based solely on in-game resources and doing so does not constitute an additional purchase, which is making their presence even stranger.
A good Nintendo Switch game?
To end this overview of Fire Emblem Engage, let’s tackle a graphics question that has surprised us more than once. That is easy, for the Nintendo Switch, the visual rendering is really clean, without too many visible technical flaws like aliasing for example. The 3D models of the characters appear detailed and colorful, which, combined with the animation, makes for a very enjoyable look. And like we said before, the cutscenes that are staged for key moments help put these characters more in the forefront.
But other than that, we note that during conversations and fights the sets and environments were abysmal, with little detail, which contrasts with the emphasized character. After all, it’s no wonder that games like Fire Emblem Engage benefit from more pleasing rendering than games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3 or Bayonetta 3. Due to the nature of the tactical role-playing game, the experience is on a smaller scale and presents a more limited environment, which explains graphic quality.
With Fire Emblem Engage, the Nintendo Switch offers first-class exclusivity early in 2023. If combat is still as fluid as it was at Three Houses, they now benefit from more spectacular animation than ever and increased depth thanks to Emblem Fusion. Aside from the quality of its friendly character designs, this title also shines with its successful graphical rendering for the Nintendo Switch, although some flaws remain. Finally, because of its not always practical menus, static staging, and classic storytelling, as well as being more interventionist than Three Houses, the experience is a bit fishy.