Fire Emblem Engage review (Switch)

Arguably the first major release for the Nintendo Switch in 2023, Fire Emblem Engage is a strong return to the popular franchise. Here’s our review.

Releasing just over half a year after Fire Emblem Warriors – Three Hopes, Fire Emblem Engage lets fans quickly return to the franchise. Perhaps quicker than you’d expect, but a different (audiovisual) approach makes sure that this one feels fresh again – not in the least because character designs are way more anime-inspired this time around. Expect off the wall costumes rather than the most history-inspired take that Three Hopes offered. But while the story can be underwhelming, we can also see this becoming one of the most accessible and beloved games in the series yet. And that’s something, when you consider that Fire Emblem has been around for three decades in the tactical RPG realm.

The aforementioned story is introduced to the player through an epic battle that takes place that involves the main character you choose. Battling as a group and supported by the Emblems, this fight with a mighty dragon called Sombron ends with a win – but also sees protagonist Alear fall into a massive slumber that lasts for a thousand years. When you finally wake, you discover that Sombron has risen to power again, and you’ll have to find the twelve Emblem rings in order to defeat him and his forces.


This quest spans four large regions in the land of Elyos, and it’s not something you have to do solo. Over the course of the adventure, you’ll run into and pair up with other heroes – each with their own abilities, style and mastery of combat or magic. Because they all feel unique, you’ll grow attached to them, which is an extra powerful mechanic when you play the game with perma-death turned on (which is optional in this game). Characters who are essential to the plot won’t actually die, but their role in combat will be played out.

Although turning this off makes it easier to experiment in combat (your fallen comrades will simply return for the next battle), the combat feels more engaging and the narrative more impactful if you decide to leave it on. Seeing a longtime ally fall in combat hurts way more when you know it actually means something for the next battle, and something similar is true when you’re exploring the safety of a base and aligning yourself with its inhabitants. If you treat your team member as disposable, all of that will feel relatively meaningless – at least from a narrative perspective.

From a gameplay perspective, if you didn’t enjoy the direction that Three Houses took you’ll have happy to know that Fire Emblem Engage is closer to the previous games in the series. From the role that the Emblems play as heroes to the battle system that’s based around the interactions between swords, spears and axes again, Engage will feel instantly familiar to longtime fans – while managing to be accessible to newcomers as well.


In battle, you have the ability to imbue characters with the powers of an Emblem (a hero from former FE games) by having them wear the aforementioned rings when you find them. This gives them additional abilities and stat boosts for a few turns, which is an interesting mechanic – an additional layer on top of the learning curve of getting to know more about standard ‘classes’ and abilities. There’s a Draconic Time Crystal that can help you with this too, as it lets you rewind a few turns when you use it.

In addition to main story quests, you’ll also run into optional side quests that can give you better equipment and/or will unlock new members for your party. Going for these isn’t the only optional element though, as you’ll find risk vs reward elements on many battle maps as well, with rewards that can be risky to acquire when you consider you might lose a party member if you go for it – again, something that’s more impactful when perma-death enabled.

It might seem like we’re trying to push people into playing this one “the hard way”, but Fire Emblem Engage is actually one of the more accessible games in the series and a great starting point if you like the genre but haven’t started playing Fire Emblem yet. With its use of past heroes, well balanced mechanics and enjoyable activities in between battles, this one should please both longtime fans and newcomers.

Score: 8.4/10

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