Fire Emblem Engage
This review currently goes up to Chapter 3: Hostilities. This page will be updated as I play more of the game.
Table of Contents
- First Impressions and Early Disappointments (Prologue through Chapter 3) [Nov 11 2023]
First Impressions and Early Disappointments
Hey guys! As you all probably know, I'm a huge fan of the Fire Emblem series, so of course I had to give the newest entry in the series a try. Unfortunately, I can't find my capture card, otherwise I would've done a let's play of it on YouTube. So, a blog post on my personal website it is!
I gotta admit, seeing all the pre-release material turned me off from the game because I don't believe that over-the-top VTuber-like character designs are in line with what a mainline Fire Emblem game should have. Even Fire Emblem Fates with its more... questionable clothing designs have more of a medieval fantasy look than Engage does.
Fates can have a woman's whole ass showing and I'd still like their character designs more than Engage's.
It also doesn't help that the protagonist's (Alear's) hair reminds me of mixed berry Fruit By The Foot.
I've since mellowed out on my initial critiques on the aesthetics and accepted this is the tone that they've decided to take this entry. I feel it's only fair if I judge it on what it's trying to do rather than what I would like it to be. On that note, the flashy anime-esque tone is charming. The opening theme, summoning your Emblems, and using your Emblem's skills all give the feeling that you're playing through a late-2010's, early-2020's medieval fantasy anime. I understand this may be Intelligent Systems's way of reeling in more players into the series, but I hope that the series doesn't keep going in this direction. If this keeps up, it may be alienating to older fans who are more in favor of Fire Emblem's more grounded earlier entries.
So, I start up the game, choose Hard-Classic mode, pick female Alear as my avatar, and get started with the Prologue. And oh boy I already have issues. Not with the writing (yet), mind you. I think the Prologue starts off great. we get a nice cinematic cutscene before getting to the actual gameplay. It's where the gameplay actually starts where I'm already rolling my eyes. Why the fuck is the game giving me tutorials on how to move my character? I picked Hard mode because this isn't my first rodeo, bucko. The description for Hard mode even says that this mode is intended for experienced players. By that logic, doesn't that mean basic tutorials should be omitted? At least give me an option to turn them off or something! Giving tutorials on new mechanics like using your Emblem Rings is fine, but I don't need the game to tell me that flying units are weak to bows. That's been a series staple since day one!!
Chapter 1 gameplay-wise had no glaring issues outside tutorial stuff. The writing is where I have some complaints. As is typical of post-Awakening Fire Emblem entries, our avatar gets praised left, right, and center by our allies right out the gate. To be honest, Clanne and Framme's praises were getting annoying, but I'd just chalk it up to them being young and immature. Speaking of Framme, she died during Chapter 3 since I didn't realize how many enemies were in range of her. Nothing of value was lost :) Okay, but I did just lose my healer, so maybe something of value was lost. Alright time to loop back around to the Prologue, since I noticed a gaping plot hole. It's heavily implied that the Prologue took place in the past judging by Emblem Marth repeating what he said to Alear at the end of the Prologue when he reunites with Alear in Chapter 1. Yet, the Prologue shows Alear fighting alongside characters that will recruited later in the game. How is this possible? I sure hope this gets explained later because this will be bothering for a while.
Onto Chapter 2! Gameplay and writing, again, are pretty solid here. We get introduced to Lumera, queen of the Divine Dragons and Alear's mother. She's... very sus. This may just be me coming from Three Houses and seeing our maternal figure Rhea being sus but dang Lumera is not being very trustworthy. She doesn't seem all that worried about her only child losing all their memories. Sure, she explains that she has an idea of why that happened, but she doesn't go further into the subject, just saying she's glad to at least reunite with Alear. We also get some lore about the continent of Elyos and how the Fell Dragon is gonna wreak havoc on the realm. Typical Fire Emblem stuff. Speaking of the Fell Dragon, I'm just gonna call it right now and predict the Fell Dragon Sombron is Alear's father. Considering Lumera has blue hair and blue eyes and Alear has red and blue hair and one red eye and one blue eye, it just feels like this is gonna be an obvious "twist". It doesn't help that Alear dreams of themselves being fucking evil and having their hair and eyes being completely red. I hope that, if this prediction is correct, it won't be treated as THE big plot twist of the game. It would be more interesting to see why Lumera and Sombron had a child together in the first place. I want THAT to be the big plot twist.
Alright. Chapter 3. Again, solid gameplay once again. But holy fuck the outro cutscene made me so fucking mad. They killed off Lumera and expected me to fucking care. We only got to know her for like one and a half chapters. For those of you who aren't familiar with the pacing of Fire Emblem games, early-game chapters will take maybe around half an hour to complete. I've known this woman for not even and hour and they play out a ten-minute(?) cutscene of her dying and she won't fucking shut up. I thought she was dying!! A dying person should not take this long to say their last words!!! It got to the point where it was more funny than disappointing, but man that made me put the game down for the night.
Anyway, I'll be playing more soon, and I still wanna give it a fair shot despite the issues I have with it now.