I think, after a certain number of hours, something magical arises in the planning of the battles of Fire Emblem. Suddenly, the selection of units is uncovered as a test of commitment that clearly measures the extent to which we are going to bet on one character or another. This happens to me, obviously, when the hour counter has gone off, and the time that I have shared with each of the characters is enough to have become fond of them. Then one usually already has concrete plans for the most outstanding units; a road map that can come to clash head-on with the needs of the battle, uncovering the most primitive aromas of the saga and impregnating our gray mass with them. It is the most reflective moment of each game. Errors must be minimized and, therefore, one must take into account the particularities of the combat zone, the type of units that the enemy has and all the options that the game puts at our disposal. For this reason, perhaps, it is usually at those moments when my little head clicks with this saga, suddenly revealing the synergies between the different mechanics that the title has been presenting. This with Fire Emblem Engage, is almost continuous during its first thirty hours, as each Emblem Ring is accompanied by a series of unique movements that change the rules of the game. A maneuver that has managed to give him hours of my life planning each chapter. And I would say that, broadly speaking, that’s what it was about, right?
I already anticipate that, despite the generous playful offer of the latest installment of the star franchise of Intelligent Systems, I still think so. Here the sirloin is the fighting, and the rest is garnish. An accompaniment that serves to tone down the strong flavors of the main course, sweetening a core that, if not nuanced, could seem less attractive to the general public. In fact, that is, in my opinion, Engage’s first big hit; make crystal clear what is secondarydrawing a dividing line that clearly separates its playful offer. Three Houses He was less categorical on this point. The inclusion of the academy was accompanied by a decisive impact on the development of the game. The calendar and side missions became part of the core of the experience. The garnish, to understand us, was not something that one could leave on the plate without feeling violated. Now, with its return to a traditional structure, and the inclusion of a zone separated from the action (the Somniel), things change.
Fire Emblem Engage can be understood as a title that looks to the past, like the other side of the coin, the antithesis of that revisionist installment that was Three Houses, an opposite that, by its nature, incurs virtues and defects that derive from it. Do not expect, in fact, the emotional crossroads that his predecessor led us to, nor the depth that accompanied his political plot. The continent of Elyos does not have the nuances of Fódlan. Here what is presented is a plot that revolves around the rise of a dark lord fallen from grace centuries ago. The character destined to stop the catastrophe is Alear, the Divine Dragon, who has lain dormant on Lythos for a millennium. His awakening, accompanied by bad news, leads us towards a traditional journey in search of the twelve Emblem Rings that contain, inside, great heroes from other worlds. A Manichaean, predictable and anecdotal plot that incurs in the classic topics that have been accompanying the franchise during its long journey.
This is perhaps the trickiest aspect of the traditional Engage approach. His story works, in fact, as a mere excuse on which to articulate the relationships between a large group of characters. Nothing new. In fact, taking into account the narrative particularities of the saga, it is clear that what is important here is the development of each of the units, as well as the relationship established between them and the player; that emotional bond that can be affected by a critical hit that knocks out our favorite character. Although on this occasion, as in the past, we can always resort to the Chronogem to undo the wrong – that already depends on how each one faces their departure. But I can’t help but think that, as much as she wants to dress the monkey in silk, the monkey stays. And it is that what is told here, contrary to what happened in Awakening or in the mentioned Three Houses, it barely got me excited. Another thing is what has been told in my departure, what has emerged from that relationship that I have forged with Vander (the thirty-second guardian of the Dragon), Framme (one of his apprentices), Alfred (whose friendship has accompanied me throughout moment), Daimant (warrior pride personified) or Louis (the gossip). There, the formula continues to be as emphatic as ever; losing Etie was hard.
that’s the only one but What can I put to Engage, that its plot, the one that motivates the trip and articulates the script twists, does not accompany the charisma of its characters, nor the forcefulness of its combat. Luckily, one comes here to what comes, to think and rethink each movement, to dive into the rules of the board that each new Fire Emblem planet. And there, Engage, is a beast. From the outset, it should be clarified that the title says goodbye to the squads and the innovations that accompanied them to return to a much more traditional approach. Battles are again fought by individual units that they will only have support if we take advantage of the appropriate synergies. Although this, like everything, has certain nuances. These nuances arrive in the form of a ring, since each character that we equip with one of the Emblem Rings will have, from that moment, an ally that will accompany them at all times. This can come to remind the couples formed in Awakeningbut the differences are notable.
Only by wearing the ring, the unit obtains certain advantages such as extra support in each of its attacks. Said support will come from iconic characters such as Sigurd, Lyn, Marth, Celica, Ike, Roy or Lucina. Protagonists of previous deliveries that, with their presence, convert Engage in some kind of Fire Emblem partya tribute to the saga that can be read in the key of fanservice in the Japanese territory, but that here, due to the incidence that the franchise has had, it will work on many occasions as a letter of introduction for past installments. But the key to everything is found in the fusion, a maneuver that will allow us to unite the bearer of the ring with his companion, giving rise to a new being endowed with its own statistics and unique movements. Considering that the rings total to twelve, and that each featured character has their own unique abilities, passive perks, and attack moves, it’s easy to imagine the increase of tactical possibilities that its inclusion supposes. There is everything, from combo attacks to extra turns, going through area enhancers, projectiles from a distance, abusive displacements, instant class changes, and a long etcetera that can also play against us.
But accessing these benefits is not free, the (input) fusion only lasts three turns. After that time, if we want to summon one of those characters that contribute so much again, we will have to fill a certain energy bar, defeating enemies or ending the turn in some special squares that are scattered around the map. This brings you an extra to the tactical management of each fight, since it invites us to reserve the fusion for the most delicate moments of each battle —you never know when reinforcements may arrive. The inclusion of the Crest Rings adds an extra layer of complexity to the tactic that, at higher difficulty levels, is not only inescapable, but delicious.
But the richness of Engage’s approaches is not reduced to the inclusion of this new mechanic, Intelligent Systems once again demonstrates its talent when it comes to presenting varied and disparate situations that completely eliminate the feeling of monotony. The variety of settings is again essential to understand the greatness of this saga. The game manages to present, over and over again, changing elements that determine our strategy. From scenarios affected by the ebb and flow of the tide, to villages shrouded in the cloak of night, boardings, hasty retreats, fires and fortress defense, to name a few.
With what has been said so far, and continuing with the gastronomic metaphors —so useful in videogame analysis—, I will close the space dedicated to sirloin. It is the turn of the garrison. And the garnish, in this case, has its own name: sleepy. It is a sacred place that has sheltered the Divine Dragon for a thousand years. An island suspended in the air that serves as a meeting place for our character, and for all the extras that Fire Emblem Engage offers, which are not few. It is, in fact, the main space for exploration (although not the only one) and management of both the group and its relationships. Inherit abilities from the Emblems, forge lesser rings with which to modify the statistics of each unit, buy and sell equipment, improve weapons, acquire clothes and gifts, or share a meal to improve attributes. Everything related to the development of the units is conveniently dietetized in this space that, in addition, offers a few minigames. If we are a little tired of fighting on the continent, we can train, fish or, for example, fly in a wyvern to kill time and, incidentally, improve our character. All this without the ties to which we were forced in the academy, which allows those who do not want to waste time on these activities to ignore them without too many problems.
El Somniel is also the home of the Tower of Challenges, an addition that will extend, more if possible, the life of an already long-lived title. The first option we find in it is the Storm, a series of challenges that consist of overcoming several consecutive battles with our team of characters, and that are a real treat for the most knowledgeable in the field. In addition, it has two more modalities that add meaning to the online aspect of the title. The relay challenge, in which we will have to take on a battle that has already begun, carry out a series of turns, and leave the battle for another player to continue; a really fun mode that can lead to the most tricky situations. And finally the alien challenge, in which we will face against the armies of other players online, in a list of maps that can also be edited. The icing on the cake.
All in all, I think it’s fair to say that Fire Emblem returns through the front door, that with its return to the most classic side of the saga, it doesn’t lose an iota of freshness in what really matters and, even, that Intelligent System has learned to manage, better, how to offer everything accessory to the nuclear experience of his fetish saga. Fire Emblem Engage It is a video game that moves away from the groundbreaking spirit of its predecessor, which represents a return to the roots that more than one fan of the franchise will appreciate. It is true that if all this were accompanied by a text to match, the result would be unappealable, but, above all, I believe that what must be measured is its value as tactics, and in that sense it is an excellent exercise, endowed with an unfathomable depth, which will delight fans of the genre. A collection of systems that, once again, have managed to burn hours planning each of their battles. Little more could he ask for.