After episodes for all audiences, the strategy franchise offers an intense adventure for fans of the first hour. Test.
The saga Fire Emblem could have stopped a few years ago. Faced with meager success in the West, the license tried everything in 2012 with Fire Emblem: Awakening on Nintendo 3DS. This update achieves its objective and repopularizes the license in our green regions.
It is no longer a question of a niche game enjoyed by a handful of players: it is a nugget both in terms of strategy and in terms of narration. By leaving the possibility of having your own avatar as the protagonist, the RPG dimension is pushed and manages to convince even the most reluctant. Over the following episodes, the saga takes on a new face with mechanics that are now unique to it.
Romances with the characters and management of a hub among other novelties diversify the gameplay to make it less daunting and more varied. However, after all these welcome improvements, Nintendo decides to offer an episode closer to the original recipe. This new title whose surprise had been spoiled by a massive leak finally arrives on Switch. Is this return to basics bearing fruit? Answer in our test.
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Fights (almost) unchanged
If you play Fire Emblem for the tension of the battles and their stakes, you will be served. The fights have been perfected over the last few episodes, and Engaged features the best modern iteration yet. Why ? Quite simply because the fights go straight to the point. Unit categories are less confusing, and classes aren’t offered in the thousands. It is then easier to focus on the battle and strategic opportunities.
No more trying to figure out the attacks of a dragon-riding magician or any other wacky enemy. The famous triangle of armsthe very heart of how combat works, has its effect again. Swords have the upper hand over axes which themselves have the upper hand over spears which can cut down swords. When these boons are met, the player is now rewarded by disarming the opponent, preventing them from retaliating during that turn if attacked again. This “guard breaker” by itself makes it possible to deepen the strategic dimension and the choice of actions.
There are also bows and tomes of magic that can inflict serious damage on certain units. The other variants of weapons used to heal or attack from afar are also effective to understand. This simplification of the mechanics is effective and gives space only to the essential. Unfortunately, those who have only known modern gameplay risk suffering a hell of a reality check.
For example, it is no longer possible to link two units in order to make them fight together, thus improving their statistics and their friendship. This functionality is replaced by the new emblem mechanic which will be discussed again later. To put it simply, the units can be accompanied by large figures of the universe Fire Emblem. This new option can sometimes be too powerful, but still remains more balanced than the duo system. The challenge is higher and the game no longer takes the players by the hand.
Goodbye frills, hello fan service
As in combat, many mechanics that could be considered secondary in such a strategy game have been scaled down. We think in particular of the relationship system between the characters, much less advanced and interesting than in Awakening, Fate or Three Houses. This feature quickly became a staple of Fire Emblem new generation, but is shifted to the background for this new adventure.
No question of reaching an S rank to see your avatar get married and even have children who will become playable units. Veterans of the license had a hard time adjusting to this mechanism turning into a dating simulator. Intelligent Systems therefore offers them a title more in line with the heritage of the license.
Speaking of legacy, this game will especially resonate with die-hard fans as it honors the franchise’s great heroes. In the universe thatEngaged invites us to discover, the great nations share emblem rings, containing the power of heroes from other worlds. By equipping them, the new cast of characters can then fight alongside Marth, Celica, Corrin, and even Byleth among many others.
Since this mechanic takes a big place in the story of Fire Emblem Engage, beginners may find themselves confused. Whether in the words, actions or abilities of these emblems, the interest quickly becomes less without prior knowledge. However, even insiders face a problem: it becomes difficult to bond with newcomers when so many familiar faces are present. We quickly come to wonder if this mechanism on the verge of fan service is not too much.
A faster pace
By reducing everything to the essentials, Fire Emblem Engage nevertheless manages to score a non-negligible positive point: the rhythm of the game is all the more pleasant. Even if managing his own castle in Fate or take a walk in the monastery of Three Houses also participated in the immersion, these moments were only too time-consuming.
In the case of the previous episode, the monastery of Garreg Mach and its school dimension, and therefore calendar, forced the player to undertake many actions to optimize his time. If this recipe works particularly well in the series of personas, applying such tasks to a strategic game results in too slow a set. Everyone does not necessarily want to go fishing, cooking and eating in the mess hall between each battle.
The players ofEngaged will find a certain comfort in the capacity to undertake or not these various activities. The new hub in the form of a floating island called Somniel is much more optional than before. Everything you can do there will facilitate the adventure, but is absolutely not necessary to progress in the story. Everyone can build their own gaming experienceenough to satisfy any player profile.
Chaining the chapters without returning to the hub is a possibility, even if a few visits to the shops are necessary in order to buy weapons or improve them. In addition to this freedom of choice, the different difficulties offered also allow you to shape the gameplay to your needs. It is then possible to chain the fights without any fear, or to put the brains to the test to avoid seeing the precious characters die definitively.
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